Working in computers almost requiresyou to be paranoid for a living. We spend so much time trying to get at all kinds data that we know for a fact that someone out there is drooling at the prospect of being able to rifle through our iTunes folders. Whenever the idea of any large entity having access to our “data” whether it’s facebook, comcast, or the City of Seattle. We go on multi-minute tirades on the right to privacy and the dangers of identity theft all the while thumping a copy of “1984” like some kind of nerd war drum.
It’s always interesting to me how we’re quick to discuss the cons of living in a post-privacy society while ignoring all of the pros. Not that I’d really want a post-privacy society. I’ve read my share of dystopian cyber-punk stories. While they were awesome, living in one would be a complete pain in the ass. The reason we should be discussing the pros of living in a world without privacy is that the advantages are what make such bad ideas reach into reality.
Take slavery, for example. It treats people like animals, sure, but free labor kept it going for so many years. Pollution is merely a side effect of accessing the energy necessary to make modern society possible. Speaking of post-privacy societies, Facism and Communism got their run because the effect they had on crime and class warfare.
The erosion of privacy in western society may be something different from the totalitarian governments of the past. Sure, anyone can see your information, but what if you could see everyone else’s? If your movements could be all tracked, they could become the perfect alibi if you are accused of a crime. If everyone just starts producing all this data, wouldn’t it hamper government efforts to spy on people by producing a lot of dummy data to sift through? You wouldn’t have to lock your doors or your car anymore, those things just won’t open or start for people who don’t have rightful access.
These advantages are what would make a “Big Brother” society possible in the 21st century. What sort of advantages can you think of?