Re: Brin on privacy

The Low Willow (
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 14:00:12 -0800 (PST)

On Dec 12, 1:53pm, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

} 1) The amount of freedom is directly proportional to the amount of
} information citizens have about government officials.
} 2) The amount of freedom is inversely proportional to the amount of
} information the government officials have about citizens.

Except that the issue isn't just one of government. Brin's scenario is
of everyone watching everyone. whysean said this would increase
tolerance and acceptance. But I have memories of people escaping from
small towns to the big city and praising the anonymity and privacy from
being lost in the crowd, although some also regret the impersonality.
The point is that small towns are often represented as near zero-privacy
milieus, and therefore represented as hell for deviants. I can't argue
that a huge open society would have to be the same as a small one, but I
haven't seen any counterarguments either.

Of course, strictly speaking Brin's thesis seems to be that we won't be
able to avoid being watched at all, so it is simply a question of
whether we'd be better off being watched by one person or group or by
everybody. Given the starting point I grant the preferability of the
latter. But I think the given is unproven. Privacy was never the
natural state; naked people on the plain have to wear clothes and build
walls. Technology can make privacy harder, but it can also counter
itself. Little bugs staring at my keyboard can be squished. Very
little bugs can be hunted down by other bugs. One's home can be made
private, I think. Public areas would be open to cameras, yes. That's
what public means.

And if Brin has actually called for banning the use of cryptography
something is definitely wrong. I'm not sure that he has done such a
thing, though.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"I can see that you have a lot to unlearn."
-"If you are talking about my vulgar instinct for survival, forget it."
-- Roger Zelazny, _The Courts of Chaos_, Corwin