Re: Privacy
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 23:04:40 -0500

In a message dated 96-12-18 01:24:52 EST, you write:

<< >>then I would volunteer to be the first to allow others to read his
>I believe that it would (eventually) be a much less violent and generally
>>better world, if everyone could read everyone else's conscious mind
>>they liked. (Although if instituted suddenly it might lead to more than
>>the world's population killing each other.)
>I have serious reservations about this sentiment. The problems
>of violence don't come from lack of adequate means of communication, but
>rather the refusal to communicate on a meaningful, productive level,
>invariably stemming from an initial refusal to think at all.

> All the ESP type powers given to people not inclined to some modicum of
>rational thought and respect for other individuals will not a utopia make.

I agree. >>

This brings up an interesting idea. If everyone could read everybody elses
mind, and presumably their sensory input as well, than where would one person
end and another begin? We could simply become one collective entity made up
of billions of components in constant communication with each other, not
unlike the human brain.

For those familiar with Star Trek (forgive for invoking television but this
is the best example I can think of) you could think of the Borg (ignore the
recent movie). Most people react with horror at the idea of ever becoming a
cybernetic being controlled by an impersonal collective. What most do not
realize is that we are moving towards that stage. Already communication is
becoming increasingly easy. Now we can wear a cellular phone. As for the
cybernetics part, that should be obvious to any extropian.

Communications technology will continue to advance and eventually we will
learn enough about the brain to tap into the language center with our
communications technology. From there we could progress to other areas until
we could transmit the complete array of thoughts and perceptions we have at
any one moment. Some may think that people would never allow this but people
today say they would never carry a cellualr phone because they wanted to stay
disconnected from the world at some times. Many of those people have changed
their minds (and many of the rest will be dead in thirty years or so).
People will sacrafice privacy for efficiency.

And this is where I tie in this digression to privacy. Complete
communication between members of a workgroup would allow for greatly
increased efficiency. There would be no more misunderstandings because of
the limitations of language. Time would not be wasted trying to find the
right words. One persons random thoughts might cause another person to come
up with something. The problem that specialization has created in dampening
scientific innovation would be eliminated by total communication between
specialists. In the end, it would come to weighing privacy against profit.
You decide the odds.

I am aware that many of the things I said have little backing in our current
stage of technology. I am also aware that the human brain may be unable to
process the increased input. Such things as neural-computer integration
would help in this case. That would be simple in comparison to mind reading.

Dan Hook