Re: Surveillance Technology

den Otter (
Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:13:20 +0100

> From: Paul Hughes <>

> I think you have managed to trap yourself in a logical paradox of your own making.
> The real question becomes who decides who is part of the masses and who is not?

Everyone must decide this for himself, that's what personal empowerment is all about. Being part of the masses is the default.

And who
> put them in charge?

They themselves did, usually. You break free form "the masses" by taking control of your own life, and consequently (sometimes) that of others.

History (and the present) is full of people (who think they are
> better than everyone else) making decisions for our own good. It is those
> that have brought us to the over-legislated unfree society we have today - the one
> and I both detest.

True, but the problem is that due to, for want of a better word, "human nature", overregulation and oppression will always reoccur. History proves it. So, simply put, unless you "enforce" a liberal and fair society with minimum regulations etc, someone else will come along and eforce *his* kind of society, which is probably considerably less pleasant. Guaranteed. Until the Singularity (and possibly beyond), one has to fight fire with fire. Not because it's an ideal solution, but because there is no viable alternative, afaik. I'm well aware that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but personally I prefer a fighting chance to meekly accepting the status quo any day.

> I have no problem with your desire to see crimes of rape, murder and theft
> It's your proposal about how to accomplish these goals that I find untenable. The
> present exercise of government power, which you want to see increased, has shown
> to be completely incapable of using that power wisely and with fairness - with
> like Burma and China most glaring.

I'm certainly not recommending the system for that kind of countries which are obviously totally unwilling and/or incapable to uphold anything resembling fair justice. I'd certainly add Singapore to the list, btw. Now that's a disgusting fascist police state, and definitely *not* what I want.

More often than not, such surveillance technology
> has been used to squash every type of political opinion that my threaten those
> in power. How will your system have safeguards that prevent any such group of
> that power to control another peaceful group against their wishes?

I have described various safeguards in previous posts, such as a "circle" of independent watchers, and I think we could come up with many more if the whole list held a brainstorm session. Of course, in the end their will *always* be risks involved. Nothing can (ever?) be made 100% safe, though a practical level of reliability can no doubt be reached with some effort. Besides, due to the nature of the system it would be more effective against criminals than against resistance fighters(*), so that's perhaps the biggest safety.

(*) For technical reasons, surveillance would have to be limited to busy, highly populated places (the limited capacity must be used as effectively as possible) such as cities and the roads between them. This is where criminals target their victims, so *they* would be hit hard. Resistance fighters, who have a different motivation and goal, could still hide out in less populated areas (or go abroad, if the system isn't "global") where the surveillance is sporadic and [thus] considerably less effective. So, should the regime ever turn oppressive, the surveillance system, good as it is against crime, won't make it invulnerable to rebellion.

> > Based on one test of questionable integrity? Yes, it *could* work for
> > some, but I'm highly suspicious about the alleged success rate.
> The alleged success rate is simple fact. Only 2 of the 67 released ever went back
> prison. What exactly are you suspicious of?

It simply sounds too good to be true...It's known that the effects of drugs like LSD can vary enormously per person and even per trip. It is very hard to belief that Leary could achieve such apparently uniform results. Do you know where I can find more details about this test?

> Its obvious you have never taken a psychedelic.

It's true that I haven't taken any "hard" psychedelics, though I've got plenty of experience with magic mushrooms and ganja. I've had some very good trips, some of which even had a mildly educational effect (I think). Also, I've learned to appreciate music more...

I highly suggest you withhold opinions on things you don't have personal
> experience of.

Even if I had taken LSD, that would have been just my subjective opinion, nothing more. It could work great for me, and horribly for someone else, or vice versa. I know for a fact that this is the case with pot.

I seriously doubt the prisoners participating in this program, think of
> their voluntary LSD experiences as abuse. They enjoyed their experiences
> not least of which was that it gave them the power to lead lives free of crime and
> desperation. I'd hardly call that abuse. Your solution of beating and torturing
> prisoners is another matter altogether.

Afaik, you oppose the surveillance system (mainly) because it has the potential to be abused by politicians etc, but LSD therapy is just as much, if not more, open to abuse by the power-hungry. We all know of the CIA drug tests with POWs and even their own people, for example. It's not a bad idea in itself, but rather a very slippery slope. Voluntary LSD therapy could be easily changed to compulsory brainwashing for all "sociopaths". It is just as dangerous as state sanctioned corporal punishment and execution, but even more insidious because it involves no apparent violence. Of course, once you take the (rational) gamble of more and better surveillance, adding (voluntary) LSD therapy to the reform package is only logical, assuming that it works as well Leary's study suggests.