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Mind reading and ethics

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User offline. Last seen 12 years 28 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-09-18
We might fix the singularity

We might fix the singularity if we become the printers, that is, project our minds into the printers. But I am somehow not satisfied with this solution Smiling.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 47 weeks ago. Offline
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One-Way Mirrors
democrates wrote:

My father always said, if you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to worry about. How many would agree with that today?

It's interesting. Why do we value our privacy? Is it because there are things of which we'd be ashamed? Is it shyness? Insecurity? Is it, perhaps, just a peculiarity that once had some sort of evolutionary advantage? Is it like some kind of natural version of corporations wishing to keep "commercially sensitive information" secret? Thinking about it, I actually find it very difficult to come up with rational justifications for privacy.

In lieu of an actual, rational justification for privacy, the best I can come up with is the Golden Rule. Just as I would not have others deny me privacy, I should respect others' wishes for privacy. But obviously this doesn't work if I don't value my privacy. Should we allow those who don't believe in their own privacy the freedom to disregard the privacy of others?

One thing that I think might be relevant is the issue of being discretely monitored, where you don't know who it is who might be monitoring you, etc, but you do know that it may well be happening.

Imagine sitting in a room with a window through which you can see into a neighbouring room. Whoever's in that room can see you, and you can see them. How uncomfortable would that normally make you feel? Is there really any relevant difference between there being two rooms with a window in between, and there being one, single room (those two rooms combined)? But suppose it's not just a window. Suppose it's one of those one-way mirrors, where, in the room you're in, it's a mirror, but in the other room, it's a window. Except that you know it's a one-way mirror. Would you feel more uncomfortable with that? And, if so, why?

Stalking also comes to mind. I imagine the key things about being stalked are that you know you're being stalked, but you don't know everything that the stalking involves, but are aware that you don't know. You don't entirely know what the stalking's going to lead to, either.

Another thought that occurs to me is the apparent incongruity between someone (or an organisation) disregarding your privacy, at the same time as trying and wishing to keep the details of their surveillance of you private. If they say (like your father said), "If you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to worry about," at the same time as objecting to your efforts to find out about their surveillance of you, it would at least seem hypocritical of them - one rule for you, but another for them.

Come to think of it, I think it might be about trust. We keep some things private, because we don't trust everyone. If people we haven't come to trust are surveillancing us, it's obvious that they must have a reason for surveillancing us, otherwise they wouldn't bother doing so. But, as we haven't come to trust them, we don't yet trust that their reasons are good. And if they're being somehow secretive about their surveillance of us - as if they've something to hide - that just makes it worse.

And so "Big Brother is Watching You" comes to mind. The idea, of course, is that it's supposedly a good thing, and would surely be regarded as a good thing by those who trust Big Brother. But if you don't trust Big Brother, you're not so likely to regard it as a good thing.

Anyway, that's a dump of my current thoughts, pretty much as they come to mind, at this time.

:-)

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User offline. Last seen 10 years 15 weeks ago. Offline
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excellent Slashdot post
democrates wrote:

My father always said, if you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to worry about. How many would agree with that today?

This post explains it excellently.

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I think the conclusion that

I think the conclusion that it is about trust would be the right one. It is not about having something to hide. It is about having something you'd rather not show. There is a subtle difference between these two ways of putting it. Hiding implies pro-actively trying to prevent something from being shown, that would probably become public otherwise. It is like when you steal something and want to hide that fact from the society. It applies to cases where you actually violated someone elses privacy, freedom or other fundamental rights and wish to prevent this fact from surfacing.

But simply *not showing* implies having things that you'd rather never show to others. In this case what we are not showing is not something bad we did to someone else or the society as a whole, but rather something that pretty much doesn't have anything to do with others. It has to do with yourself only.

Anyway.. this is why I think that this whole proverb "if you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to worry about" applies only to a special context and not as some general concept about privacy. In fact it probably doesn't have much to do with privacy as much as it has to do with conceiling something that really shouldn't be conceiled, when you in fact are guilty of some sort of violation.

With that out of the way, privacy is a natural fundamental right of all people, and there's no question about it. There may be various degrees of privacy that various people need or want (depending on how much they trust others), but everyone has a threshold somewhere. As long as they respect others' wishes for privacy it's as it should be.

So about these new technologies.. they should respect the same rules as every human. If they start digging deeper than they ought to, which is deep enough for someone's innocent privacy to be hurt, that's called misuse of these technologies.

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User offline. Last seen 7 years 7 weeks ago. Offline
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Should we be so trusting?

I get the points about privacy and trust, that sure sounds like the world I want to live in, but is that the world we live in?

Do I like being searched? Hell no. Will I submit to a search when boarding an airliner? Yes, in fact since 9/11 I won't board an aircraft unless people are searched first, I won't take that risk.

At the same time the elevated danger isn't a carte-blanche for an Orwellian attack on our rights, sadly that seems to be happening and there may be worse to come if the underlying problems continue to be exacerbated rather than diffused.

In any event, beyond these genuine exigencies of responsible statehood which we hope are temporary, I have zero tolerance for invasion of privacy for commercial or other non-necessary reasons.

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I trust very few people (I

I trust very few people (I think it is few), because of this I hate people giving out too much information to people I do not know, since I do not trust them with the information. How do I know if people invading my privicy are not going to use the information they gain for their own egotistic purpouses? I do not. So I find the idea we are too trusting by not allowing some privicy violations strange.

The problem is with states having the power to invade privicy "in an emergency", and hoping it will go away when things get better, is that governments like power. If it is not the politicians themselves who like the idea of knowing everything about us, it will by the civil servants who want a way to make their jobs easier (such as the police locking people up without charge etc.). We may not like it but often we are forced to give information to governments to do basics things, like have the permission to leave the country, even if it is for a day trip to Ireland. In the UK we will have (now) to have biometric details on a central database to get a new passport - the Government classes this as making the choice 'optional'. There are no responsible states, there is corruption everywhere, so as we give up our right for the precived emergency now, me give them up for ever. (Hmm, I'm sure you're agreeing with some of my points here, from re-re-reading your post).

Hmm, I'll stop here or I will go on a pointless rant which is useful to no one.

dylunio

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dylunio wrote: So I find
dylunio wrote:

So I find the idea we are too trusting by not allowing some privicy violations strange.

No actually it's the opposite. We are not trusting and that's why we don't allow privacy violations. That idea is about a relation between trust and desire for privacy.

What you describe is also exactly that, you don't trust that once you give up some privacy due to an emergent situation that you will be able to regain them.

When we're on the subject of elevated danger justifying giving up some privacy and freedom, it is quite doubtful whether the current internation (and national especially in UK and US) situation justifies this at all. I think the threat of terrorism has been way overblown by Bush, Blair and their puppet media to a point that masses are today basically so convinced that they would willingly give up freedom in that name.

While I wont talk about some big conspiracies here, I can't be absolutely certain about 9/11 either. There are some mysteries about it which shouldn't exist. I just know that I don't trust Bush nor Blair and I don't find many of the activities that ensued as justified by these terrorist attacks as really justifiable. War on Terrorism is one big scam, and even if the 9/11 attack was genuine, it would be a scam, because the "measures" taken have gone too far.

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on→of

The "war on 'terrorism'" is a war of literal terrorism—on the people supposed to be fighting against terrorism.

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User offline. Last seen 7 years 7 weeks ago. Offline
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Fist of fury, hand of friendship

As individuals, ideally we want the freedom to fully manage the facts of our lives with our preferred access privileges for partner, family, in-laws, friends, work colleagues, the state, businesses etc etc.

I get that we can't have it both ways though, IE be safe from attacks while everyone has as much privacy as they want. It's not just the state gaining access to hitherto private information, we partake in the process too, I won't be going back to Cairo any time soon having seen a tour bus attacked by a suicide bomber under the exact same bridge a bus I had taken passed.

We're warned by some that the war on terror may never end, this is the classic 1984 trick of keeping people in a constant state of fear and thus amenable to control. So I agree that aspects of certain states reactions are totally overblown.

Other aspects are the opposite of overblown. On the 9/11 conspiracies I've an open mind. I've seen web sites, videos and tv programs and yes, something stinks to high heaven, some actions of the Bush administration seem thoroughly inconsistent with those of an innocent party. What was that quote, the bigger the lie the less likely it is that people will question it? My gut feeling is it's all about the shady money deals of Saudi-America. Frankly I wouldn't put anything past those who are infected with the sickness of greed.

For the same reason I have little faith in their willingness to tackle the underlying problems if it interferes with wealth concentration. There'll always be extremists, but their capacity to gain popularity directly correlates to easily demonstrable injustices. Any excuse will do. For Bin Laden it was 'infidels' in Saudi Arabia. Why are they there? It's easy to point at the headline financial benefactors, but western jobs are hugely dependent on oil. Is there another way?

The rampant globalisation of capital has all nations at each others throats in glorious competition (brilliant plan - let's all struggle ever harder), and peak oil is only going to raise the stakes. If rich nations continue to approach every international forum be it the WTO or UN with the goal of enhancing our own interests regardless of the impact on others, we can expect more explosive reaction from our victims. If that happens I think we can probably expect further reductions in our levels of freedom and privacy.

Unless that is, we are prepared to find a way out of world war zero, the pathetic dystopic class war that has always been. I'm optimistic that we can, though the way forward is not clear and others have different views of what the key problems are, the Internet is the key enabler of the dialogue necessary to proceed to a peaceful accord. Would people agree that our freedom to engage and organise is getting better despite reduced privacy?

memenode's picture
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Nice post. I'll just respond

Nice post. I'll just respond to a couple of points.

democrates wrote:

I won't be going back to Cairo any time soon having seen a tour bus attacked by a suicide bomber under the exact same bridge a bus I had taken passed.

And that would be your own choice, not the choice a state made for you. That's the difference between agreeing to let the state remove some freedoms for the sake of protection, and choosing to do or not do something on your own. All the government should really be doing in a state of elevated danger is education, not more anti-citizen laws which are supposed to ironically protect the citizens. If properly informed, citizens can protect themselves.

democrates wrote:

...the Internet is the key enabler of the dialogue necessary to proceed to a peaceful accord. Would people agree that our freedom to engage and organise is getting better despite reduced privacy?

Internet probably redefines the way we look at privacy or at the very least challenges us to sometimes let go of what we once considered private in exchange for some other value, which comes through cooperation with other people. And that is fine, as long as governments and corporate cartels don't mandate giving up of some privacy.

And this also follows on nicely to the point above. With internet it is easier for the government to inform rather than lock up the public in various laws. Because of internet, education (and a constant open dialog) is the key more than ever, not legislations.

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