Friday, February 11, 2005

Giving up privacy

Why are people so eager to give up privacy? I understand a little bit of this in terms of privacy vs. security, but this recent discussion in my "Issues in Software Engineering" class is over the top. Below are the two posts (the original and the response); the names have been removed to protect their privacy ;-). The last line of the response is of concern to me.
An author you all might like to check out is David Brin. He is an SF author, but has written extensively on these issues, including a book - "The Transparent Society". One of his basic points is that the lack of privacy in society can also serve to our benefit, in that it lets us "watch the watchers". His point is that corruption and self-serving activities among our business and political leaders can be enabled by privacy, while held accountable in a "transparent" society. An interesting point of view. You can find his stuff here:
I follow you. This societal transparency is as appealing to me as the clearly visible gearing of a bicycle and the source code to a Perl script. I am not comfortable with black boxes, secret societies, handshakes, or, for that matter, any one special interest group that holds information as power, in secret, over or at the expense of another. The internet has a potential that is yet untapped to promote a truly democratic, transparent society where individuals are perhaps not living in complete privacy but finally, able to have an equal and compelling opportunity to cooperate in myriad ways with their fellow human being.
At the risk of being a bit too far afield and feeling the effects of too late an hour, I will say human society needs to take a drastic quantum leap into this transparency or something similar in order to in turn make the corresponding technical leap to a new age where the survival of human beings on our own planet will depend on a certain clarity of interdependence.
Buckminister Fuller said some 30 years ago that we are on Spaceship Earth. I think he meant that our survival depends on our leaving privacy and self-interest behind to go into the future as a society of communal technical collaborators with the common goal of ensuring our survival as a species. At about the same time, the Fabulous Thunderbirds came out with the hit We Gotta Work Together. That song seemed to me to be an attempt to make privacy loss a positive thing. Perhaps our loss of privacy will be the lever to help make our world a more cooperative place.


At 1:26 PM, Anonymous the german said...

Yes I got the first comment!

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Swinder said...

I see. First comment eh? See how nice anonymous comments are???


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