My Photo

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

April 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
Blog powered by Typepad

Become a Fan

« Hell with Rules | Main | Big Data. New Physics. »

August 04, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Dave M

Missing from discussions of how privacy is eroding in modern society is the fact that the vast majority of humans through out history have never had any privacy. "Privacy" only became possible with the advent of medium to large cities. It has only been recently (I think in the last 30 year or so) that more people are living in urban areas than rural. Through most of human existence the vast majority of people lived in small villages or tribes. And when you are born, live and die in groups of 30 to 50 people every one knows everything about you. Who you liked, who you hated, when you wake up, what you eat, etc. The households were multi-generational and houses were small with only a couple of rooms at best. Everybody knew your business from birth to death. It was only by becoming anonymous in cities that you could have privacy. Your privacy depended on blending in with the crowd and not being interesting enough be be noticed. As you noted in your post anonymity comes from being average. This has always been the case. This is why celebrities and public figures have never had much privacy. When you become famous you lose your privacy to the public. When you become notorious you lose it to the government.

I don't think this will change in the highly interconnected age. There will be a huge amount of information available about you but for the most part it will never be looked at unless there is a reason. From a technological perspective we have an unprecedented ability to gather, correlate and examine information on individuals. On the flip side is that there is a corresponding flood of new information that still overwhelms our ability to process it. Putting a video camera on every corner simply floods the system with noise. By the time we have figured out how to automatically process all the video some new vector of information will have opened up to add more noise. Processing and examining this information has a cost and people are not to pay it unless there is a benefit. We live in a vast digital city and you can still hide by being average.

The one thing that has changed dramatically from all our previous history is the ability to disappear. 500 years ago if you wanted to disappear you left your village. If you made it more than 20 miles away nobody knew who you were and were unlikely to find out. The world was vast and transportation sucked. Information moved as fast as people and since most people were illiterate information transfer relied on human memory. Today you can't exist in modern society with out leaving an electronic trail. A system like NORA can then correlate the electronic bread crumbs and a service like Choicepoint can make the correlated information available everyone on the planet instantly.

How will mankind respond? Probably by not really giving a crap. Everybody already knows that if you stand out you get noticed. The transparent society magnifies the effect but it isn't new. Besides, there are plenty of people (see Lady Gaga) who love standing out. The good news is that they try extra hard to be outrageous and suck all the attention to themselves leaving us more mundane folks comfortably anonymous and unnoticed since our "deviant" behavior is average compared to the global outliers like Gaga. But I think overall humanity will become more accepting of diversity as a consequence of being constantly exposed to it.

If you want an interesting fiction book on the absolute end of all privacy try The Light of Other Days ( by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter


I will have to admit I don't believe in privacy I think it is a new concept that is past it's time. And if you never believe you had privacy to begin with...then it's really not much of a loss.

I think there are two different ways you can come to this conclusion...first is from a technical perspective which I assume most are comfortable with cause it presumes you have control over the technology at some point and the other is the spiritual perspective which I would suggest few are comfortable with who deal with technology.

Technically speaking we are losing our privacy because everything we interact with is connected and as we move through life all those connections are recorded somewhere in some type of media that is accessible by someone. And from this conclusions can be drawn and predictions made...which I believe aligns with the posters way of thinking...

But from the spiritually speaking perspective...what if we were always connected, always are connected and always will be connected by consciousness...what if the universe is consciousness in various forms...what if all actions ever occurring are recorded in consciousness and becoming human simply masks the awareness of everything for a brief period of time. From this perspective privacy is not possible and this more aligns with my belief.

Now from either perspective...privacy is going away and what I believe is the future is tolerance for variation. But along with that tolerance...or what has to precede the tolerance is the awareness that variation is required and will not threaten another's existence...but is this awareness possible through a technological perspective? I don't know...the poster even says himself that he is outside the bell curve and this concerns him in the future...I would agree that if we don't move past a technological perspective of the world...the outliers should be concerned...but if we move to a world where our origins are unveiled and what always was comes into view then there will no longer be outliers...only variation that is required for specific experiences in life to occur and learn from.

I enjoyed the post and my thought was to simply get across that I don't believe the hope of a tolerant future as technology encompasses us is possible without an awareness of a higher connectedness beyond what we see on this planet. But I also believe that whether we believe in a higher connectedness or is going to hit us and will be unavoidable as a concept and very soon at that.

Bob N.

Privacy or not - connectedness or superseparated - the qualities of the future lie in the concepts put forth by the individuals who construct the separatedness or connectedness. The quality of the future is not intrinsic in the privacy or lack thereof. Those who promote lies and falsities will more widely promote them and those who believe them and pervert and forward even those will do so. And those who attempt to discover truth and make it known will also do so on a bigger scale. Tolerance comes about through an ability to recognize the relative truth of another's creation. Boy, that sounds good - doesn't it? I wonder if it is true. Anyhow, for those who wish to foster tolerance shows a code which if understood goes far in advancing tolerance of and in one's fellow human beings. When it has been made known to them, whole populations have experienced reduced crime rates.


great post.

"I hope for a highly tolerant society in the future. A place where it is widely known I am four or five standard deviations off center, and despite such deviance: my personal and professional relationships carry on, unaffected."

i agree with your worldview on where we are heading; to transparency that embraces diversity. not just because i'm an idealist, but because fitness necessitates diversity... its our biological imperative.

The comments to this entry are closed.