Re: FreeNet downside

From: Emlyn (pentacle) (
Date: Sat May 06 2000 - 03:31:06 MDT

> As I've said before, privacy is a thing of the present, not of the future.
> I'm sure it will take quite some time for everyone to get on board, but
> only way to real freedom is mutually assured surveillance. Anonymity is
> worthless to most law abiding citizens. As fewer legal things become
> "taboo" anonymity will be completely worthless, except to criminals. It's
> not Orwellian at all. It's me watching you watching me watching Big
> watching us all.
> This is transparency. This is the way.
> -Zero

Ubiquitous surveilance has its appeal. It is certainly an interesting
approach to the problem of "Big Brother"; Big Brother may be watching, but
so is everyone else, and Big Brother is as watched as anyone else.

However, it does not take account of the (necessary in my opinion) split
between the private and public spheres. We all live in cultures where the
formal, public culture is different from private, informal culture; we act,
feel, and live differently in public than we do in private. This is a
psychological effect which has nothing to do with criminal behaviour in
private; people just like privacy, for a whole slew of reasons.

What I think would be interesting would be some kind of effort for people
who wanted ubiquitous serveillance to don wearable cameras, and link up
their surveillance systems in real time (likely over the net). This would
build a huge database of surveillance information, and would normally be
voluntary. Etiquette might dictate that cameras were always easily
recognisable on wearers, or indicated prominently, by some kind of
international "surveillance" symbol on clothing perhaps, if the equipment
chosen is too small to be easily noticed.

Such a database would be an excellent base of information for other
endeavours. For example, a system might be devised which could take all the
most recent info from the database, and build a realtime, 3D, navigable
model of the surveyed portions of the world; detailed information rich maps
and their hi-tech equivalents could be produced from this database of
surveillance (note this likely requires images to be combined with GPS

Another interesting possibility is for others to tap into the surveillance
participant's video and perhaps audio feed, and experience what the wearer
is experiencing. This could be connected to a royalty-based system of
payments, and produce a direct way for people to make money from simply
leading interesting lives; if it's interesting enough, others will tag along
and pay for the privelege. For instance, imagine someone climbing Everest
was part of the surveillance network; you would imagine they might attract
quite an audience!

Steve Mann seems to be heading down these kinds of paths with his WearComp
wearables; I assume that Zero is aquainted with his work.

Anyway, this whole attempt to disolve the private realm is interesting. For
instance, imagine if a potential employer could examine your entire life in
minute detail (presumably with the help of some very smart information
filtering/collation systems), to decide whether to employ you or not.
Eliezer has complained in the past of the fact that there are still very
public searchable databases of his participation in various internet forums
available now, from when he was 14, and held opinions which he does not hold
now. Imagine that problem multiplied out to the level where every single
instant of your life was available to all.

I've toyed with the idea of going down the constant wearable camera route,
publishing the entire feed live on the net. But there are a lot of issues of
privacy which need addressing. I'd like to have the, ah, gumption to do it,
but for now its still in the "Things to do when I go completely insane"


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