Re: Brin on Privacy

Sean Hastings (
Wed, 18 Dec 1996 02:45:10 -0600

John K Clark wrote:
> On Thu, 12 Dec 1996 Sean Hastings <> Wrote:
> >it seems to me that Brin's ideas on privacy hold some merit.
> >Postulating a society in which everyone is capable of tuning
> >in to everyone elseís lives on a real time, or archived
> >basis, I predict the following: [list of nice things]
> Brin's world would be inherently unstable, so discussing its merits is like
> talking about if it would be fun to live in a world where gravity was a
> repellent force rather than attractive. It isn't going to happen.

Amara Graps wrote:

"For the Alcubierre "warp drive", you need to create a "negative energy
density" behind the ship (essentially like anti-gravity, to "push" the
ship from behind). Alcubierre knew of no possible way to do this.

But there is a way- the "Casimir effect" - which may help solve this
problem. Surely someone told Alcubierre, because I think their
papers came out around the same time.

S. Weigert. "Spatial Squeezing of the Vacuum and the Casimir Effect",
Physics Letters A 1996 v214 #5-6 p.215-220."


> If nobody in the world has secrets except me, that means I know all about the
> marketing plans and product development of your company but you know nothing
> about mine, that gives my company an advantage, it will grow and so will the
> privacy meme. The only way Brin's world could work is if everybody was
> exactly like Mr. Brin.

A world of Brins is certainly not impossible. Mr. Brin made an attempt
at describing an Environmentally Stable Strategy (ESS) which would
continue to suppress the privacy meme when he talked about a culture in
which chicks didn't dig paranoid guys. I would further predict that
where such an ESS holds, no one will buy your products if they don't
know what future corporate strategies their money might be financing.
Once an ESS for a totally open society is established, privacy minded
people will be feared for their lack of openness. ("If I canít see what
heís doing how do I know its not evil?") The increased tolerance of the
society I described would apply to everything except your privacy. In
your above example you would at best be shunned and at worst killed out
of fear, depending on what other Altruistic Class memes were common to
the society.

> On the other hand, if I tell all and have no secrets but everybody else has
> secrets, then it is my company will be at a disadvantage and shrink, and so
> will the transparency meme.

Absolutely true, and this example is closer to the current conditions of
our society. So the question is, how do we get from the current privacy
ESS into a transparency ESS? The answer is: the same way Earth changes
from a dark warm planet to a bright cold planet during an ice age. The
(social) climate breaks away from a local strange attractor when the
proper chaotic conditions align to give it the necessary escape

This might happen, and it might not. I will maintain only that it could,
and that the result would not have to be the drastic loss of individual
liberty that you predict.

>Wonderful though it would be, the world need not
> be full of people like me for Crypto Anarchy to work.

Iím not sure what you mean by Crypto Anarchy working. In fact, Iím a
little shaky on the whole Crypto Anarchy thing. Please point me to some

Regardless, my above argument doesnít say it wonít work, only that a
society could develop in which it is neither wanted or needed.

> >Certainly secret ballot would disappear, but would it be needed?
> Not really, but then elections aren't needed either...

Nor is would a democracy by representation be needed. We would have a
pure democracy.

> By the way, I'm not sending Brin a copy of this, he made it crystal clear
> that he doesn't want to talk to me again, EVER! That's fine with me.

I suspect he's listening in. (Hi Mr. Brin!) If not he's missing out on
some good source material for his book, as he will certainly want to
have characters arguing the point.

--Sean H.
--V-mail: (504)825-1232 or (800)WHY-SEAN
--S-mail: 5500 Prytania St. #414/New Orleans, LA/70115