Re: Privacy

J. de Lyser (
Sun, 8 Dec 1996 21:49:36 +0100

At 07 Dec 96 18:59:45 EST, Paul Wakfer <70023.3041@CompuServe.COM> wrote:

>I do not think that
>privacy is "evil", but simply that it is counterproductive to communications
>and to mutual understanding in human relations. In addition, in my view a
>person who has high self esteemm, ie. is proud of all his/her thoughts and
>actions should have no need for any privacy and, in fact, should be completely
>happy to have these things all open to the public.

In this case of course, you are assuming all of humanity, having the same
level of openmindedness and understanding towards other peoples
thoughts/actions, which are now considered 'private', as you yourself may
have. Not regarding some of them as 'deviant' or ethically judging them in
any way. In sharing all of ones thoughts and memory of actions with people
who are this open minded, i do see an increase in productivity and
effectiveness of human interaction. The point is that someone open minded to
(what is considered to be) ALL of humanities 'deviant' or 'morally dubious'
behaviour, will be hard to come by.

As a matter of fact, most humans will have at least some ethic, or morality,
by which they 'judge' other people, instead of just themselves. Until this
changes, i see your assumedly intended goal of making everyones thoughts
available to everyone, as being more counterproductive than todays
situation. People today communicate their 'private' thoughts and actions,
with individuals from who they expect will have that open mindedness on a
specific level, and from who they expect communicating these to them, will
bring benefit (in whatever form). IMO, a very rational and productive system.

Another point is, that people in general show a tendency to 'react' to
knowledge of another individuals thoughts, (considered private or not) when
they either share those thoughts enthousiastically or disagree with that
same level of 'enthousiasm'. Under the current situation, sharing your
'private' thoughts and actions, would bring productivity increase by
communication with that small percentage(or promilage, etc) of humanity,
which agrees with you, some productivity increase by communicating with
those that are able to constructively criticise, but counterproductivity, by
those stuck in their dogmas, who will just condemn you for whatever they
will disagree with. And ofcourse that 99.9999 etc % of humanity will just
ignore you like they always have...

Choosing which ideas to share with which individuals, requires insight in
those other individuals. Whereas i basically agree that more 'open'
communication can lead to an increase in productivity, i still believe that
this insight will remain a strong factor in just how efficient that increase
will be.

> In all my dealings with others, I try to be as open and revealing of my
>inner most thoughts as possible. I reject totally the idea that "white lies"
>are OK. Furthermore, I have stated many times that my desire to be able to
>communuicate with fidelity what I am is so great (and I seem not be able to
>accomplish this by standard interpersonal methods), that I would very much
>welcome a human augmentation which would allow us all to transmit and receive
>each others thoughts. I have stated that if such an augmentation were possible,
>then I would volunteer to be the first to allow others to read his thoughts. I
>believe that it would (eventually) be a much less violent and generally better
>world, if everyone could read everyone else's conscious mind whenever they
>liked. (Although if instituted suddenly it might lead to more than half the
>world's population killing each other.)

Have you considered other consequenses of what you suggest ? Some
individuals have a greater 'quality' of manipulating other individuals,
privacy of thought, protects us from eachother in this. Children would get
away with doing things, by being able to candidly read the minds of their
parents and teachers , who may sympathise with the child, but need to 'lie',
or try their best to be 'tough' on them in the childs best interests. The
same could go to some extent, for those individuals in society who hold a
higher responsability, and have acchieved higher levels of education,
experience and insight, towards individuals who haven't. Like the child may
not be able to see the parents 'reason', individuals may not see eachothers
'reason' wether based on intellectual differences, or cultural differences.
Or do you suggest we become a homogenous population of equal intellectual
and cultural 'values' ?

Every society creates a set of rules to live by. Private thoughts and
actions also serve in those cases where the individual assumes his
responsability in 'breaking' those rules in order to adapt them to his
personal 'reason' (the politician, but also the criminal). A 'reason' other
individuals may not understand.

>My basic point here is to question the rationality of anyone valuing privacy.

IMO, privacy serves the individuality of people. Your idea is very noble,
but the reality is that your 'altruism' may not be the same as someone elses
altruism. Someone may think you are 'abusing' his candedness, where you are
not thinking the same, and vice versa.

Another way of looking at things: do you want to know all thoughts, and
memory of actions of other individuals ? Being able to selectively choose,
is also part of what makes us an individual...

thanks for bringing up an interesting point.

J. de Lyser