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« Connecticut's Nano Governor | Main | Nanotechnology and Mutation »

August 13, 2005


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Mike Deering

To anyone with a pathological insistence on privacy, I have to ask, "Why?"

Is it merely a Victorian era embarrassment? I think they have therapy for that.


Some if not most laws are unjust on some level. The potential for tyranny increases as the level of surveillence increases; same problem as posed by assigning MM adminstrators. Even assuming perfectly just laws and enforcement mechanisms, it kind of defeats the point of being human if my every thought is known and bounded. In such a circumstance, I'd contribute what I could and then exit into an unsupervised inert simulation or something.

Nato Welch

Two things:

First, there's a difference between public surveillance and government surveillance. In public, any person could follow and detect various things about you, constantly. The reason people are upset about surveillance is not the intrusion, but the lack of accountability. If I'm being followed and detected the old fashioned way, I have the ability to detect who is following and detecting me. If there's a public camera, is it public access? Who has access to the recordings? Can I use a photo from a traffic camera to support my alibi should I be falsely accused of a crime?

Secondly, The trouble with government justifying it's surveillance with the zero-sum tradeoff argument is that most of the policies they implement don't provide security they claim to be trading people's freedom for. There is a zero-sum transaction happening, but it's a trade of the citizen's freedom in exchange for *the government's* freedom. Security is not increased at all, in these cases, we're just losing power as citizens to increase the power of government.

to combine these two concerns, We're giving away power to government that we could share a bit more equally. The problem with USAPATRIOT Act style power is that it not only invades privacy, but it leaves government unaccountable for that invasion. Why should it be allowed to keep all this data to itself, as long as we're arguing that we have no right to privacy in public to begin with?

If we can not have secrets, why should they?

Mike Treder, CRN

Exactly. The greatest combination of accountability, security, and freedom would result from *universal* transparency.


Without a radical overhaul of our laws, such universal transparency multiplies the problem. I jaywalk a thousand times a year. How many married couples fell in love under circumstances that would constitute statutory rape? Loitering and littering laws would nab us all. Alcohol and cigarettes are legal but narcotics are contraband? I would be in a constant state of paranoia over routine actions in such a state.

Tom Craver

Large scale government surveillance is an inversion of "innocent until proven guilty" - "everyone is guilty enough to justify watching them closely enough to catch them in the act".

With perfect surveillance, many if not most people could be found guilty of breaking some law they didn't even know existed - perhaps some part of the massively obscure tax code that could end up ruining them financially. That gives people in the government the leverage to get whatever they want:

Petty revenge - maybe you disrespected a TSA inspector in the airport, and suddenly you're on a no-fly list.

Political advantage - you oppose a candidate who has buddies in the IRS, and suddenly you're the subject of a tax fraud investigation.

Career advancement - after building up a good life for yourself, you look like a "big fish" to an investigator - and rather than looking bad for having wasted time investigating someone innocent, they twist your employees' arms until someone "admits" knowing something you've done wrong.

Money - you're rich, they're greedy, and they know some mistake you made that will cause you no end of legal hassles or penalties, not to mention ruining your reputation.

This situation - which we're not too far from already - is a perversion of "rule of law" - it's "anarcho-tyranny", where people in positions of authority can use the law to do pretty much anything they like, as long as they don't mess with anyone more powerful than themselves. Surveillance is a force-multiplier for anarcho-tyranny.


Before we know it, perhaps our family members are actually clones cum home security camera. I think that the evolution of security cameras will be faster than we thought. Let's just hope that whoever gets to use them will make use of cams in a positive way.

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