Re: Brin on Privacy

Guru George (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 13:54:01 +0000

I don't have access to whatever Brin wrote that started this off,
so I may be missing the point, but here's my tuppence-ha'penny worth anyway.

I don't see any conflict at all between privacy and transparency;
it's purely up to the individual to decide whether or not his or her
dealings with the world be open or private. Of course if you're
talking about what a government should do, that's a different, and
more difficult question. Broadly, it isn't the government's place to
'encourage' either mode particularly, and government itself (where any!) should be
largely transparent, except (surely obviously) with regard to
sensitive military matters.

We normally observe the world and remember things we've observed.
You can't hide from people.
Extropians should have no problem with enhancements that allow people
to observe better and remember better. This alone would mean more
transparency generally, with something like Brin's policing grannies
vision coming about as a matter of course. Heinlein conceived
something similar with his notion of the 'fair witness' too, did he

I quite fancy that it will soon be possible to have a wearable,
unobtrusive and powerful personal computer with miniature digital video camera and sound recording
equipment attached, ongoingly recording say the past 15 minutes or so
of one's experience (so that one could 'capture' it or 'sample' it to
disk at the touch of a button). This would be a really useful tool
for people who wished to keep an eye on things. Especially police

Again, I stress that Extropians should have no problem with this, as
it is simply an extension of the observer's own experience and

BTW, did anybody read the recent article in Wired on this very
subject? The writer thought that since Big Surveillance Technology was coming
anyway, far better that we watch each other than that we have Big
Brother watching us.

As for encryption, the usual arguments apply: it is obviously very useful, and the
arguments against it invoking the Three Horsemen of the Infocalypse
(child pornographers, terrorists and I forget the other one) are
irrelevant. Hard cases make bad law.
Guru George

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" - AL i.40
"So with thy all: thou hast no right but to do thy will" - AL i.42
"Do that and no other shall say nay" - AL i.43