Re: Privacy

Paul Wakfer (70023.3041@CompuServe.COM)
18 Dec 96 01:22:31 EST

I wish to re-start this thread which I had to abandon (because of lack of time)
ten days ago without answering some of the replies.

Max M's post of today gives me the segue which I needed:

>Privacy is something very personal. I think the biggest problem with having
>cameras everywhere would be with the most immideate family. How would you
>like your wife, mother, mother in-law, lover, mistress... to be able to se
>how you behaved at the last party you where at. Did you dance a little to
>close to someone, did you talk about things a little to personal. Did you
>perhaps even kiss someone in drunken happines?

Why are you so concerned? Are you ashamed of your behavior? If so, then why did
you do it? And isn't it then something that you will strive to correct? Or do
you like being ashamed? Or are the people who you don't want to know about your
behavior so irrational and non-understanding that they will think ill of you
for your behavior? If so, why do you wish to continue to associate with them?
Don't you wish to associate with people who will accept what you are and esteem
you *because* of it, not *in spite* of it? Or at the very least with people who
will accept *all* that you are because of some high qualities which are
attractive to them.
I believe that, if not an "abnormal" life, it is a mentally unhealthy
life, to be wishing to hide things from people. As stated before the only
exceptions which I would make are when dealing with governments or others who I
suspect will have no compunction against stealing from me or otherwise coercing

On 08-Dec-96 12:15 PST, Kennita Watson wrote:

>What about ideas which might be demonized by irrational or coercive people
>(witness Nazi Germany)?

Then undemonize them! Or don't you believe that good memes can drive out bad?
Coercive people are another matter. You must either convince them that coercion
is not in their self interest or you must eliminate them.

>What about not wanting to be ogled naked in your living room by every >lecher
who might wander by?

Are you ashamed of the way your naked body looks? If so, why aren't you doing
something about it? And why on earth does it matter to you what is in the head
of anyone else so long as s/he does not coerce you? Especially, what is in the
head of a total (and irrational) stranger?

>What about not wanting anybody to know about the surprise party you're
>planning for someone, lest word get back to them and the treat be ruined?
This is an interesting one which I hadn't considered. Personally, I don't place
much value on surprises. I would always rather know and would be even more
pleased and happy with the party if I could prepare myself and look forward to
it. However, I can't think of any deep important reasons to fault someone who
likes to be surprised.

>What about wanting to avoid telling what you know about something that you
>are proud of but happens to be illegal? I could think of many such >examples,
but I have other things to do

You are correct here. I too have many such examples. I am really addressing the
question of why anyone should want privacy in a truly free society.

On 08-Dec-96 11:28 PST, Wade Cherrington wrote:

>> Now we have come to an issue which I think is important in the here and
>>now, and about which I seem to have serious differences in viewpoint from
>>most others. I would like to see what others think of my idea. 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.
>I think there may be a confusion on exactly what level we
>are discussing "privacy" on. I understand what you're saying,
>that people who are intensely private are missing out on a lot,

Although it may be true, that's not what I was trying to say. I am quite
unsociable. I miss out on a lot anyway by personal choice. But what I long for
is to be able to fully communicate myself at high bandwidth when I do wish to
do it. And I would be willing to do it continuously (except to those who would
coerce me) in order to achieve the benefits.

>but really what you're talking about is privacy as a personality trait.

Yes, the rationality and personal desirability of privacy in a free society is
my topic for debate.

>What is a more basic concern to myself as a libertarian is the RIGHT to

As a former libertarian (I don't like to call myself that anymore, since I
believe that I have long since gone above and beyond 'mere' libertarianism) I
no longer believe in the RIGHT to privacy (in a totally free society. A RIGHT
is only valid when it is the 'natural' default condition, ie. when in order to
have that right one need only be left alone, ie. not be coerced on ones own
private property. PRIVACY is not primary to this paradigm. It can only be a
consequence of have a right to prevent trespass onto you property. If methods
of detection and readout of anyone's activities become so advanced that
whatever you are doing, thinking, etc. can be determined without coercion of
yourself or trespass of your property, then privacy quite properly goes out the

IAN GODDARD expressed this very well when he wrote:

>IAN: The only "right to privacy" I have is a right to the privacy I'm
>able to maintain. For example, if I don't want to be seen naked, then
>I'd better build a house, put me in it and close the windows when naked.
>If I don't close my windows, I cannot tell people in exterior properties
>that they cannot examine the photons traveling from my property onto
>theirs which convey information about my property, and indeed, such
>a claim on my part would violate private-property protocols.

Wade goes on:

>How open can you be to anyone individual when anyone and everyone could hear
>what you're saying?

So what, if they are not going to coerce you!

>What I consider counterproductive is people who demand of you at every turn
>"What are doing? What are you working on? Why are you wasting time with that?

Unless they have something constructive to contribute, why can't you just
ignore them? Why must you let *your* life and *your* thoughts be controlled by
anyone else, certainly not by such nosey, meddlesome people.

>You can be proud as you want of what you're thinking, but if you're in a
>situation where there are people who will attack,

agreed, if you mean physically. If not why care, verbal attackers ultimately
just harm their own image in others minds. They some get to be known and their
opinions dismissed by those rational people whose esteem you would desire.
Physical attackers should be eliminated from the gene pool.

>verbally abuse,

Who cares?

>or even lock you up for saying it,


>you had better be able to practice some disgression about who is hearing
>you and who isn't.

In my book, you got two right and one wrong :)

>>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.)
>I have serious reservations about this sentiment. The problems
>of violence don't come from lack of adequate means of communication, but
>rather the refusal to communicate on a meaningful, productive level,
>invariably stemming from an initial refusal to think at all.

> All the ESP type powers given to people not inclined to some modicum of
>rational thought and respect for other individuals will not a utopia make.

I agree.

>Sorry, but its a classic case of putting the carriage before the horse.

I was questioning why we want privacy to suggest removing it completely as a
practical current alternative. I was simply suggesting its removal would be
productive and rational the system we all desire in the future. Hey, I thought
you extropians were always busy working out how the world of the future will
function in excruciating detail when is it highly unlikely to evolve in any way
much related to what you now think and most of your hours of work and debate
will have been totally wasted (in any practical sense except for the purposes
of mental exercise and masturbation). Can't I too have my occasional fling to
this sort of day-dreaming? :-)

>>My basic point here is to question the rationality of anyone valuing privacy.
>Privacy in some situations is detrimental, in others necessary.
>For any given statement you can make, there will be people out there who
>don't care what you say, be annoyed at what you say, be annoyed just because
>you're saying something, be violently annoyed at what you say, misinterpret
>what you say, twist what you say, violently misinterpret what you say,
>decide to use what you say against you...the list goes on.

Yes, as long as they don't coerce you, then such actions will always lead to
more information to yourself and a better understanding of those who you are
associated with (and perhaps should abandon).

On 08-Dec-96 12:55 PST, "J. de Lyser" wrote:

>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'
>behavior, will be hard to come by.

I don't care if I am 'judged' negatively by others. That is *their* problem so
long as they don't coerce me. To the extent they judge me negatively for
something of which I am proud, I will in term judge them negatively and
associate with them less. I would rather know this than not know it.

>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

I certainly don't want to eliminate differences in judgement of behavior in
people. This would be a very stifling boring society. I need continuous input
of the judgement of others in order to continually evaluate my behavior and to
determine if it is something which I can be proud of. If someone who I highly
esteem judges some behavior or thought of mine negatively then I will give
his/her opinion very serious consideration. If someone I despise or don't even
know does the same, I will generally ignore it.

>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.

I totally agree. My problem with this has always been the small bandwidth of
such communication which is possible.

>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'.

If this were true it would be good, unfortunately, I think that people usually
react much more strongly when they see something they judge wrong them when
they see something they judge right.

> 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.

My hope would be that by vastly increasing the openness and totally of my
communication with them, their "dogmas" (about me anyway) would be able to be

>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.

We would all be stronger for having to learn not to be manipulated as we grow

>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

One should never lie, most especially to children. It is ultimately always
harmful to their well being. Being 'tough on' children is certainly necessary
and it is better if the child fully understands what is going on.

>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.

This sounds somewhat elitist and repugnant to me. Especially, with children one
should always explain and give reasons for everything even when they are too
young to understand the reasons. In this way, they come to understand that the
world is rational (or should be) and that there are reasons for everything. And
when they are older this view causes them to think and to seek the reasons for
everything around them.

>Or do you suggest we become a homogenous population of equal intellectual
>and cultural 'values'?

No, and we could not if we tried. What I do suggest it that we 'treat' everyone
who does not use forcer or fraud as an intellectual and cultural peer. For that
is the best way to help and induce them to become so.

On 08-Dec-96 13:48 PST, Hal Dunn wrote:

>I respectfully disagree, even tho' I suppose it's possible that an advanced
>transhuman might improve his brain to the point of never doing anything or
>having any thoughts he didn't mind sharing with everyone else.

My idea has nothing to do with perfection. It has to do with being proud of
everything you do and think -- even the mistakes.

>However, regarding those <TH (less than transhuman) . . . A few examples:
>Daydreaming or fantasizing about strange things (most creative types do this)
>that you wouldn't want certain other people to know about. Mistaken thoughts
>that you later correct, but only after others learn of your mistakes. (A big
>part of the creative thinking process is coming up with novel ideas,
>thinking them through, weeding out the bad ones, etc.)

So what is wrong with sharing all of this it might even lead to others having
more understanding and empathy for what you are. And if your creative
techniques are especially good, many others could thus become more creative.

>There are plenty of things that others don't need -- and might not WANT -- to
>know, e.g., what I look like in the shower, sitting on the toilet, or having

If you're proud of it, why do you care? If not don't you wish to change it?
Maybe more understanding of your fallible 'humanity' would probably help your
relationships with others. They would know "your shit do stink". :-)

>>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.

>I can't imagine this bringing anything but misery. If everyone received
>everyone else's thoughts, there would be a helluva lot of noise.

Not if there were some ability to direct your reading to a particular person
and a particular thought set. And remember I said read the 'conscious' mind,
which is generally quite linear, at least in its thoughts.

-- Paul --

Paul Wakfer phone:909-481-9620 pager:800-805-2870


Check out the Prometheus Project web site at URL: