Re: Fw: Today's Headlines from Wednesday, July 4, 2001

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 00:42:00 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:

> An important issue in the whole "Transparent Society" debate
> hinges around how people in truth actually feel. My guess is
> that you are wrong here; I know I wouldn't have been at all
> bothered to know that the detective had been frequenting the
> same beach that I did. I'm eager to know if others agree with
> Steve here or with me.

I more agree with Steve. Unlike the detective, which there are
relatively few of and which are more avoidable, ubiquitous
electronic survelliance and recognition software is nearly
impossible to avoid. The level of power this gives an
autocratic state is staggering and quite worrisome. A lot of
freedom is protected by
the high cost and difficulty of enforcing uniformly the State's

> > Many people would object to the [some of the] hypothetical
> > case[s] you describe, after all this is what despotic regimes
> > have been up to for a long time and people objected to that.
> I think that what people objected to was the way that the
> regimes used the information, and the actions that were taken
> against people. I have to concede one of your main points:
> namely, that in the question as to how much governments can
> be trusted, the burden of proof lies on those who say they can.

Of course. Produce only enlightened leaders or fully protected
republics where the politicians cannot run amok and then we will
happily talk of perfect and perpetual survelliance and such.

> > It's interesting to speculate how people would react
> > if we did get a transparent society with effectively constant
> > surveillance, a kind of society wide panopticon.
> I liked David Brin's book "The Transparent Society" which
> dealt very well with this whole issue. It's very controversial
> on Extropians as well as everywhere else, however. Although
> some very reputable thinkers believe that the government or
> the rich will always have the upper hand---and this will just
> make it worse---I was persuaded by Brin's arguments.
> > Perhaps we'll all start behaving like the inhabitants of the
> > Big Brother house :)
> I greatly enjoyed listening to Arthur C. Clark and Stephen Baxter's
> "The Light of Other Days", which picks up on an idea of Clark's
> from Childhood's End: a history machine is created that allows
> universal surveillance not only of the present, but of all of
> history too. Maybe it would be as bad as Big Brother (as an
> Orwell fan, I sure hate this usurpation of the term), but I
> don't think that I would act any differently if I knew that all
> of posterity would have access to my life.

But you would act a great deal differently if you knew that you
and those you care about could be punished drastically for
state-decreed wrongs that are not wrong or that your descendants
could and would be punished in the future for your actions in
the past.

- samantha

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