Re: Brin on Privacy

Sean Hastings (
Wed, 18 Dec 1996 14:05:46 -0600

John K Clark wrote:

> But again, Brin is making 2 fundamental errors.
> 1) He's assuming that everyone, including chicks, will be just like him and
> equate privacy with paranoia.

Not just paranoia, but danger. Fear is generated by the unknown. In a
world where all else was open, those who tried to hide their actions
would be feared. The social pressure caused by the people hosting the
"transparency meme" reinforces the meme and creates an ESS. A child
raised in such a society would never see the posible benefits of hiding
their actions. A mutant genius who does see the advantages will most
likely be destroyed or rendered impotent.

> 2) He's assuming that by some black magic everyone, including chicks, can
> tell if I'm using cryptography, but in actuality, the fact that I have a
> secret is a secret.

Are we talking about actions or words here? Secrets held unused are
worthless. Do you have some black magic by which you can make use of a
secret without revealing its existence?

> Suppose I run the best small painting company in silicon valley, we can do a
> better job at a lower price than anyone else, but through black magic it is
> known that I have a secret.
> Do you really think INTEL wouldn't hire my company to paint the outside of
> their new chip manufacturing plant?

They most certainly would not, given that a transparency ESS holds.

In the current ESS I can probably gain economic advantage through the
use of slave labor, but no one will buy my products or services when
they find out about my business practices.

Try telling INTEL that you have a gang of slaves fresh off the boat that
you are going to send over to paint their plant just as well as the
competition will but at half the price, and see what happens.

> >The increased tolerance of the society I described would
> >apply to everything except your privacy. In your above
> >example you would at best be shunned and at worst killed
> >out of fear
> Sounds like a splendid place to live, I can hardly wait.

Will your crypto-anarchy protect those who use slave labor? If so, I can
hardly wait.

All of your arguments are valid under the current ESS. All of mine (and
Brins) come into play only under one that does not yet exist. That is
why it is difficult for you to accept them. It is very hard to break
away from a strange attractor once you are in its zone of influence.

Perhaps one day soon our society will emerge from this ICE-age of
secrecy and deception into the warm greenness of transparency and

(Sorry, I couldn't resist. ;-) )

> Brin wants to write his book in an intellectual cocoon, isolated from any
> disturbing ideas that might challenge his own.

In fact, personally, I find the whole transparency meme pretty
abhorrent. But then I too am a product of current societal pressures.
I'm sure that Brin is either "in an intellectual cocoon" or heís a
mutant genius (or both.) He avoided the pressures of current thinking
and grasped the possibility for a workable transparency ESS. I certainly
didn't see it without his help.

The real question is not whether a transparent society is possible (I
think it is, but if it isnít then we neednít worry about it.) but
whether it is "better or worse." Should we actively strive to push
society one way or the other, or just let chaos do its trick unfetterd
by the additional effects our self referential proccesses?

--Sean H.
--V-mail: (504)825-1232 or (800)WHY-SEAN
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