Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Futility of Hiding

“In the struggle for freedom of information, technology, not politics, will be the ultimate decider.”  -- Arthur C. Clarke

We’ll start with one more news item showing the futility of “hiding from elites”: The U.S. high court approves a rule change to expand FBI hacking power by interpreting search warrants broadly. 

It happens almost weekly - expansions in elite powers to see. And these are "normal" times! Imagine what new powers of vision will be granted, the next time the public is scared? Hiding is no solution.

Nor is it just government. “The Google-owned artificial intelligence company, DeepMind, is in deep water after it gained access to the confidential health data of more than 1.6 million National Healthcare Services patients in London,” reports Futurism.com. The data feeds an app called Streams, which would help hospital staff monitor kidney disease patients, markedly improving patient care. But also sent were non-kidney-related data including HIV test results, details about abortions, and drug overdoses.  

One of you wrote in asking whether this is sousveillantly good or bad? 

My response. And you are surprised? If you yowl and make them back off today, it won’t work next year, or the next. The stunning myopia of imagining top-down vision can be stopped is simply amazing. 

But there is good news! The fact that we do now know about this and can discuss it is an example of something called sousveillance. Of course we need more, much more.

 == Identified, wherever you go ==

In The Transparent Society I begin with a tale of two city-states. In both of them, eyes are everywhere: cameras that proliferate across the landscape, from towers to streets to parks to the electronic realm. Oh, but the two cities are different where it matters most. And we are seeing both kinds emerge now, in the real world.

Singapore Is Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a Whole New Level. The Wall Street Journal reports on how government-deployed sensors will collect and coordinate an unprecedented amount of data on daily life in the city. 

“As part of its Smart Nation program, launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in late 2014, Singapore is deploying an undetermined number of sensors and cameras across the island city-state that will allow the government to monitor everything from the cleanliness of public spaces to the density of crowds and the precise movement of every locally registered vehicle.”

“Officials say the program is designed to improve government services through technology, better connect its citizens, and encourage private-sector innovations. For instance, sensors deployed by private companies in some elderly people’s publicly managed homes will alert family if they stop moving, and even record when they use the toilet in an attempt to monitor general health.” Any decision to use data collected by Smart Nation sensors for law enforcement or surveillance would not, under Singapore law, need court approval or citizen consultation.

There's your City Number One. Oh, citizens are assured that the top-down surveillance is beneficent and paternally protective. But citizens have no way to verify this, or to enforce that promise.  


So let's look at City Number Two from The Transparent Society, coming alive as we speak.

I’ve met the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who has overseen the country’s transformation into “e-Estonia,” where every citizen participates in a single, modern database that handles all health, income, insurance and government benefits records, relating them seamlessly so that paying your taxes “takes 90 seconds.” 

No one denies that Estonian citizens have garnered many benefits in time saved, efficiency and eliminating the shadows wherein corruption thrives. Estonia has the highest web involvement and business startup rate on the planet. Moreover, the information is two way. Except for the most sensitive things like defense matters and imminent (time limited) police investigations, citizens have unprecedented real-time ability to supervise and comment on public officials, including those managing the computer-data systems. 

And that is the difference. Not whether technology will shine light into every dark corner; there is no "whether." Rather, our choice will be either to trust the assurances of paternalistic authorities... or demand the power to enforce their good behavior, by relentlessly looking back at power. 

== Can E-Stonia lessons be applied elsewhere? == 


The article is interesting. Though it leaves many quandaries unanswered.

These include scalability… is this approach best suited to a small and highly educated nation? Or might the benefits be transferred – ‘turn-key’ – to some poor country like Botswana? Then, of course, there’s the worry that almost certainly vexes you – might Estonia’s universal database approach, for all of its clean efficiency, turn into a tool for permanent oppression by governmental Big Brothers?

To these fretters, I have one question; do you honestly believe big nation elites won’t have all these tools anyway, in the next decade or so, no matter how many times you invoke Orwell? Indeed, would you bet your life they don’t, already?  Estonia’s innovation is to make the database transparently accountable.  Any time a citizen’s records are accessed, he or she is told who did it, and officials are required to answer questions about why. 

That, alone, does not guarantee safety, privacy and freedom, of course; it will be a never-ending struggle.  But that arrangement makes plausible further activist efforts to keep big brothers under reins.

Moreover, it ingrains in citizens an expectation and a habit of supervision. And a willingness to get angry when that expectation gets thwarted. And a willingness to reward whistle-blowers, in that event. Not only is this a (somewhat) plausible way to protect liberty, it is how our ancestors (with cruder methods) got theirs. And it is the only way - even theoretically - that freedom can be preserved in the future.


Seriously.  Name another approach that's even remotely plausible. I have been demanding this for three decades.

In contrast, what is the pragmatic recommendation of the West’s most stalwart paladins of info liberty? Almost always they propose the normal-reflex “solution,” to scream at elites: “don’t look at us!”

...without ever getting specific about how the demand might even be enacted, let alone enforced.
Take the problem of identification.

== You exude and ooze ID ==


New biometrics abound and they get ever-creepier! Skull echoes could become passwords: SkullConduct uses the microphone already built into augmented-reality glasses, such as Google Glass, Meta 2, and HoloLens, and adds electronics to analyze the frequency response of sound after it travels through the user’s skull. Individual differences in skull anatomy result in highly person-specific frequency responses that can be used as a biometric system. It’s not as accurate as the CEREBRE biometric system (you can now be identified by your ‘brainprint’ with 100% accuracy), but it’s low-cost, portable. 

Binghamton University scientist Sarah Laszlo talks in this interview about an experiment which suggests that biometric "brainprints" could replace fingerprints in the future.  “Brainprints may carry some potential advantages over fingerprints in identifying people. For instance, if a person’s fingerprint is stolen, there’s virtually nothing that can be done because fingerprints are “non-cancellable,” Laszlo said.   “Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable,” she said. (Many different styles of brainprint can be recorded and the old, compromised ones publicly canceled as ID.) “So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorized user, the authorized user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint.””  

 Dreamy “cypherpunks” talk of shrouding their online activities with encryption and wearing dazzle masks on the street, to stymie all the cameras. But to what end, when each of us fizzes with biometric identifiers? Your unique walking gait might be altered (for a short time) by a pebble in your shoe. But can you change the specific ratio of lengths of bones in your hand? Or the speckles on your iris, or the pattern of blood vessels in your retina?  

How about the oto-acoustic tones that many humans emit from their own eardrums, and that can be uniquely identified by sensors?  Some time ago I mentioned how your farts will betray you, revealing a very specific spectrum of micro-biota from your gut.

Our civil liberties defenders at the EFF and ACLU etc have the right instinct to fret about Big Brothers and asymmetric surveillance. But they always draw the wrong conclusion -- to resist the Orwellian nightmare by crying out "don't look at us!"

Over any extended time, you will not preserve safety or freedom by hiding. You’ll not. Dare I repeat? You... will... not... prevent elites from knowing you and knowing where you are and what you do. 

And besides, hiding from them is a cowardly, self-centered approach.  

What you can do… perhaps… is unite with a couple of billion other world citizens and demand that big folk behave themselves. That they not use the info to harm or oppress us.  Because billions of us are watching them. 

Unafraid of what elites can see, we will curb what they can do.

== What about encryption? ==

Yes, yes. The grand, always-invoked magic word. I shared a stage with a (skyped-in) fellow named Edward Snowden who - while impressive in some other ways - offered up this tiresome cliche, despite the fact that much-touted crypto-methods topple each and every year. And that any year’s cipher-breakers can, at minimum, dissolve the protective coats of encrypted material from ten years ago… always have and always (likely) will. 

The glaring fact is that even if such methods worked permanently and perfectly – (and I use some myself, for pragmatic reasons) – cypherstuff will only stymie elites (governmental, commercial, oligarchic, criminal and so on…) regarding three or four of the dozens of methods used by oppressors across the last several thousand years, since Hamurabi’s time.  As well-expressed in a famous XKCD cartoon, why spend millions cracking a suspect’s secret cache if a two-dollar wrench can wrest the password, when you bring him in?

I have yet to meet a cypherpunk activist who has read up on millennia of spycraft, before proclaiming “crypto is the solution!” Point out the other secret police methods that encryption does not touch? Or the sheer number of biometrics that spew from them, whenever they walk down the street? All you get is angry glowers. 

And they call me ‘naïve’ for recommending that, instead of trying to shroud ourselves in e-burkhas, cowering from Big Brother’s minions, we instead act vigorously, while we are still somewhat free, to strip all elites naked!  That is militance.  It is how we got what freedom we do have – hundreds of times more than any of our ancestors.

Moreover, in the most important civil liberties advance in a generation, our right to aim cameras at the police is now established and making a bigger difference than all the raving jeremiads of both left and right.

And sure, we can negotiate with our officials and the Protector Caste how to supervise in ways that still let them do their jobs.

The choice is inevitable, between City Number One, whose best and most benign-confucian example is Singapore but more likely Oceania... 

...or else the e-Estonian solution of utterly empowered citizenship, in which the skull-echo and fart-tracking and lie-detection and personality profiling methods help us to reduce the power of psychopaths and keep civil servants accountable.

The transparent city is coming, so let’s take a hand in its design, so that it reveals more about the mighty than about us. 


If so, then instead of Big Brother forever, we might have Big Brother never.

== Addendum ==


Envision contact lenses that are also tiny cameras, recording and storing whatever you see, and even playing it back before your very eyes.  Sony has patented such a system – though we’ve portrayed this in science fiction, for ages – using blinks to command the unit (again, as I depicted in Existence.) Oh, but what if it is hacked?  We can and will adapt, provided every advance is competitively and vigorously criticized and open-tested. 

126 comments:

raito said...

Well, wherever there is inequity, there are 2 choices to correct it (assuming it needs correction).

You can either pull the high side down (cf Harrison Bergeron).

You can lift the low side up (cf our host's works).

Pulling the high side down seldom works, and seems to always be temporary.

As far as connected society goes, I live in a state where, until relatively recently, the drivers license and vehicle registration computers did not speak to each other. This meant that you might have to go into a room and stand in a line to renew one, then into another line IN THE SAME ROOM to renew the other. Things are marginally more sane these days.

Alfred Differ said...

I would have appreciated the kidney monitoring features of an integrated medical system. It was an eye-opening experience to be told by my nephrologist to monitor what other doctors prescribed and to be taught the basics of metabolite extraction duties of the liver and kidneys. He warned me because he had to. There was no simple way to ensure a future doctor would know my GFR number like he did and correctly deduce that I shouldn’t receive prescriptions that result in extra work for my kidneys. It all cleared up in a couple years and I don’t have to worry, but I got to see a flaw in our medical industry that allows doctors to cause unintentional harm. It could be fixed if we dared.

Linda B said...

Yes! We need a completely transparent system, not a one-way mirror.

Linda B said...

Yes! We need a completely transparent system, not a one-way mirror.

David Brin said...

I think Linda just demo'd the principle of the laser!

Alfred Differ said...

One photon kept to stimulate more.
One photon released into the correlated garden. 8)


On transparency, though, there is one thing I think gets skipped. I get that we can't reasonably expect to hide from elites. Forcing them to open up to us is good sense. Prudent even. I think what annoys people is they don’t understand why we should WANT elites to know as much as they will. There is an argument to be offered beyond prudence that explains what is in it for us. What higher virtue is being served in them learning so much about us?

Arguments about the protector caste doing their jobs don’t cut it when many are suspicious of them at best and not at all inclined to grant them the dignity that should come with doing those jobs well. Sousveillance connotes suspicion of those watched, so I don’t see an argument for assigning dignity where it is earned/deserved. Personally, I don’t need an argument to persuade me, but I suspect many others do.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin - My primary skepticism (although I'm still trying to be convinced - that's not hostility, so much as real uncertainty) - as to sousveillance as a means of restraining power given

(1) the ease by which power can quash the 'wrong sorts' of eyes looking at the wrong sorts of people, and
(2) the banal content toward which eyes tend to be drawn (e.g., who is Mr./Mrs. X sleeping with, rather than what they are doing to other people).

The Thiel v. Gawker challenge is a a great fight, because these are the two greatest weaknesses in sousveillance as a viable check on power. We have possessed "power" to check "power" for some time - but few of us have much incentive to do so (unless we are imminently at risk of loss of liberty, property, or life).

"Unafraid of what elites can see, we will curb what they can do."
Most law exists precisely to serve that purpose - to limit what elites DO with the power they amass. Law opens possibilities for non-elites to attain elite status, but it also applies restrictions that limit elites more than they do non-elites. From Hammurabi's time until our own, the reason to say "One eye for one eye" is not because it is right, but because those with troops at their disposal could take far more than that if they wished (and indeed, Hammurabi recognized the distinction between noble eyes and commoner eyes - full parity of humanity came about far later historically).

"Stop looking at me" may mean, "I fear what you will do with what you see!" - but can also be a variation on "I own my own face - you cannot use it for any purpose without my consent."

Louis Shalako said...

...those pesky micro-biomes.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Funny thing about owning our own faces is that we obviously don't. I might be able to bar someone from using it for commercial purposes if I'm willing to fight it, but at the poker table I have a much harder time barring someone from using it to figure out what I'm thinking. It's not just because I'm willingly sitting across the table from them, though. We use each other's fizzy body language all the time.

Property claims are one thing. Recognition of those claims by others is another. I’m not sure I see the point in recognizing someone’s right to hide based on a claim of self-ownership. Like copyright, I’m inclined to recognize it when it is useful to the community, but apply fair use VERY broadly.

Anonymous said...

This will be very difficult to hide from.

http://www.gapatton.net/2016/05/152-eyes-have-it.html

Kal Kallevig

donzelion said...

@Alfred - "at the poker table I have a much harder time barring someone from using it to figure out what I'm thinking."

Fair shift in metaphor, but note the standard response by the players: sunglasses, masks, and artificial means of hiding their tells (computer terminals). Still, reading tells is "fair" - a camera actually spying on another player's cards is not. How does one deal with someone habitually cheating at the game? Typically, one stops playing with them and excludes them from the benefits of play. That is my take on the EFF and ACLU approach - "stop trying to look at my cards!"

"I’m not sure I see the point in recognizing someone’s right to hide based on a claim of self-ownership."
Not my point, but rather, an illustration of my point - that law is one key in restraining surveillance. The key cannot be "inventing better means of hiding"(legal, technological, or psychological) - but living in a world where hiding might serve a temporary means, but is never a worthy ends in itself. It seems to me that the Thiel v. Gawker struggle shows the limits of a dumb camera 'gawking' at elites as a means of balancing their power - but that is a question, rather than an answer.

Anonymous said...

What pearly palantir hast thou pawed? Estonia is unique, and Singapore and Estados Unidos are bastions of the Carbon-clutching 1%, excepting where one clocks in somewhere below $38,000 a year, in which case the question of whether the riche in their gated 'burbs are transparent enough is likely of little to zero concern. By the Grossly Damaged Planet (GDP) per capita numbers, Estonia is around 75% by quantile, though more importantely has a small population (no pesky scaling issues) and has a Peter the Great style leadership (rare) and has a dominant minority neither too dull (as Peter the Great discovered) nor too sharp (as Caesar discovered). Thus, unique, and in no way inevitable (blinkered binaryists to the contrary), especially given such trends as the decline of the middle class in America, and the decline of entrepreneurship, and the increase in suicides, and so forth.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

Poker is doomed to die, then, along with many games already gone, such as Trivial Pursuit, to name one (although for the reason of Google.) All card games.
It's the slow creep that's interesting. Used to be Nielsen had to figure out who's watching what on TV. Now the boxes send it all in and no one even squeaks about it.
Business trade secrets: gone. Private diplomacy between nations: gone. Private sex: gone. Hiding cash under the mattress: not even. A politician who picks their nose, ever: unelectable.

David Brin said...

Alfred: “I think what annoys people is they don’t understand why we should WANT elites to know as much as they will.”

ANSWER: You can’t always get what you want. (In this case it is utterly impossible.) But if we try, we might find, we can get what we need. Fredom and safety and civil servants who remain forever servants. All-seeing servants who leave us the fuck alone.

donzel: “
(1) the ease by which power can quash the 'wrong sorts' of eyes looking at the wrong sorts of people, and
(2) the banal content toward which eyes tend to be drawn (e.g., who is Mr./Mrs. X sleeping with, rather than what they are doing to other people).”

ANSWER: #1 is simple. Don’t let it be easy! Making freaking hard for them to do. Reward whistle blowers so that no such plot can trust its henchmen. I neaver said this would be easy. But it can be done. We have proved that.

#2 The problem of gossipy-bullying “little brothers” in an oppressively conformist 51% majority, who might bully eccentricity LEGALLY in an open world? Sure. But American mythology, in every single movie and song, HATES that!

This particular anonymous barely conveys decent English but actually makes a cogent point or two.

D.G. Hudson said...

It's going to take a lot of convincing for society as a whole to 'believe' that the elites will do anything other than what their superiors tell them to do. The track record for honesty in government and industry has been poor these last few decades. Secrecy still abounds in much that NASA or other government agencies oversee. Abuse of power by politicians, abuse of power by police in racial and other conflicts (homeless, addicts, minorities) all muddy the belief that a transparent system would work both ways. There needs to be a lot of trust in the systems and in the safeguards that are going to be required. (I like the idea of accountability, but that's asking a lot of that part of society which thinks that government is the problem.) Enjoyed your post and the comments.

Alfred Differ said...

@jumper: Heh. If people who picked their noses were unelectable, the Libertarian Party wouldn't have much to do in advocating for a smaller scope of government. You'd all have done the work for us.

@donzelion: The game changes quite a bit depending on the house rules regarding glasses, masks, and so-on. Poker without tells and the reading of them isn't poker as far as I'm concerned, though, so I take my money to where I choose to play. Poker without tells is computation. Bots. Boring.

As for Gawker, I'm not so sure that they didn't deserve a swift kick in the butt-ocks for what they were doing. There ARE limits on what upward facing cameras can and should do, but we find them by stepping beyond them as I feel they did. Anyone who wants to look up and be a social T-cell has to be prepared to get smacked back. Fortunately, many people seem willing to do it.

For me it is really about agreeing to the bourgeois deal. Leave me be and I'll make you richer if I make myself rich. If I'm caught in the act of doing that and someone wants to complain I'm not generous enough, I'm going to smack them and then encourage them to show how it should be done. Cut the envy crap because that is NOT part of the deal.

Time will tell with Thiel.
I'm willing to wait patiently to see.

LarryHart said...

Speaking of Clarke (as you did in the main post), believe it or not, I have never before read "Rendezvous With Rama", but I am getting to it now.

So I did get to read for the first time, this gem of a line:

Even by the twenty-second century, no way had been discovered of keeping elderly and conservative scientists from occupying crucial administrative positions. Indeed, it was doubtful if the problem would ever be solved.

David Brin said...

D.G.H. your stylish, reflex cynicism is discrediting. The fact that you can go around daily in a society where you are NOT routinely asked for bribes in order to get even daily matters done... taking that historic miracle for granted without a scintilla of historical perspective ... is kinda sad, but typical of a society in which very few citizens ever ponder history.

Is there a lot that is "half-full," meriting some cynical realism, knowing we have lots of oligarchy power to take-on? Sure.

Is it just plain dumb to ignore the myriad ways that the glass is half full? Absolutely. Because ignoring that implies that nothing can ever succeed. That the whole experiment is futile. It is the attitude that will prevent us from trying. It is an attitude that will kill us all.

David Brin said...

LarryHart, I have known many elderly scientists, and 1/4 or more of them decided to use their august positions to become... rascals. To champion almost-crackpot possibilities. To stand up at meetings where no one dared to stop them and poking hard at established ideas.

What's sad is that you've probably never even heard of this. Yet I worked for or knew a dozen or more of these rascal sages. Hannes Alfven. James Arnold. My current friends Freeman Dyson and Vint Cerf. Others ranged from Fred Hoyle to Leslie Orgel.

Granted, this is a cultural thing. Our present society encourages rascal-hood.


Alfred Differ said...

So I should want ‘forever servants’? I get that these are roles filled by people who voluntarily enter and exit, but I think there is a multi-millenia history backing the notion that long-term servants run their lord’s household. I’d be fearful of people who wanted such a role and I know many of them who would do it for their entire lifetime if they could. Sure… I could watch them, but would I want to if I had other options available? Sure… others could watch them, but that makes them another kind of servant, thus part of the risk.

Hiding from people won’t solve anything and will likely make things worse, but watching everyone who serves isn’t something many of us want to do I suspect. We wouldn’t write automation tools to do it if we liked the work. I make a living supporting people involved in IT security and even they don’t like to watch what people do with what they know. The usual complaint is that it is dehumanizing to the watcher.

By the time I finished your transparency book, I was coming to the opinion that the only way it would all work is when we can write enslave-able AI’s to do all the watching. Since we don’t know how to do that and the best approximations we have right now are our own savant children, I couldn’t see how to make the transparency vision palatable. My take away from the book was that we don’t have much of a choice. Complaints from our palettes will have to be addressed by our smarter, richer children.

Jumper said...

Al Franken interview, with some on our very topic (lack of PAC disclosures in Citizens United decision aftermath).
And Supreme Court discussion.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-26/here-s-what-al-franken-really-thinks-about-business-the-supreme-court-and-donald-trump

Alfred Differ said...

Last time I saw Freeman Dyson speaking about climate change, he was definitely earning his rascal street-cred.

My own advisor encouraged us to get out of our chosen fields every 7-10 years (by choosing another) to avoid gumming up the system, but he never went so far as to suggest rascal-hood.

David Brin said...

Oh, Freeman is the penultimate rascal.

Alfred your assumption that we have to watch all the time is absurd. Every civil servant misbehavior does not have to be caught. So long as enough are caught and made examples that there’s a real deterrent. And rewarding civil servant whistle blowers means they will not be able to trust each other not to blow whistles if they do bad stuff. And those are the people who will know how the system works. Come on, man, stop thinking in terms of fine sounding sound bites and actually envision why we RIGHT NOW endure less daily corruption than ever in all of history.

locumranch said...



If we can't hide (take Flight) from this New Transparency, then our societal defense responses are limited to Freeze, Fawn or Fight:

(1) Those who opt for flight hope to avoid scrutiny in the obsessive-compulsive pursuit of perfection;
(2) I currently favour the dissociative option (freezing) after abandoning the first option as futile;
(3) David seems to relish in Stockholm Syndrome-style 'Good Dog' codependency (fawning); and
(4) Treebeard appears to prefer Confederate lost-cause defiance (fighting).

"Habituated 4F defenses offer protection against further re-abandonment hurts by precluding the type of vulnerable relating that is prone to re-invoke childhood feelings of being attacked, unseen, and unappreciated. Fight types avoid real intimacy by unconsciously alienating others with their angry and controlling demands for the unmet childhood need of unconditional love; flight types stay perpetually busy and industrious to avoid potentially triggering interactions; freeze types hide away in their rooms and reveries; and fawn types avoid emotional investment and potential disappointment by barely showing themselves - by hiding behind their helpful personas, over-listening, over-eliciting or overdoing for the other - by giving service but never risking real self-exposure and the possibility of deeper level rejection" [http://pete-walker.com/fourFs_TraumaTypologyComplexPTSD.htm]


Best
_____
@Alfred: Some NOAA climatological models predict inversion of oceanic halocline layers by 2100 which, COINCIDENTALLY, is the most common approach to Oceanic Farming wherein deep nutrient-rich (but oxygen poor) oceanic water layers are pumped to the surface to trigger explosive growth of plankton, zooplankton & assorted sea life, while simultaneously generating green electricity by temperature differential (of which FeSO4 seeding represents a crude approximation thereof).
https://www.newscientist.com/letter/mg14719906-500-floating-farms/

David Brin said...

"seems to" yes... we all well-know your blind zones, locumranch. None of your four dolorous and dismally dumb-pessimistic "options" bracket anywhere near my actual positions, or indeed aim even in the same general direction.

If you were capable, you'd gain cred by at least mentioning the actual position you mean to rebuke. You'd paraphrase it and then attempt to refute it. But even the concept slips past you... indeed it is related to positive sum, and hence is neurologically inaccessible to you.

This - other guys - is one reason that I find the fellow fascinating. Intelligence is weird and we must consider the possibility that aliens will be like this - unable to grasp some things we find simple. The scary thing is to try to imagine my own blind spots. That I might have some as severe as this? Terrifying thought.

raito said...

Blind spots? We all have them. It may be most often that our blind spots are our personal experiences getting in the way of seeing the larger picture.

I'm a bit of an example of this. I expect to be treated poorly by those in power because it's what's happened in the past. By contrast, I have a friend who has never been significantly screwed over. For him, the world is a nice, warm, fluffy place. Must be nice.

It gave him quite the case of cognitive dissonance when my predictions of our mutual boss's actions became true. I don't think he ever had seen anything as negative and irrefutable.

But I'm optimistic in that I believe things can get better. And pessimistic that they probably won't.

As for rascals, there will probably be fewer here in WI, given the tenure situation.

donzelion said...

@Alfred - my main concern with Gawker v. Thiel (or vice versa) is as an illustration of the stakes in the game. In a Hammurabi universe, one attains the authority to take an eye only after having lost an eye (and again, only if the individuals are of equal social rank). Here, a story alleging sexual conduct re Hulk Hogan yields a $140 million judgment - where the value of a child's life in a wrongful death case is less than $1 million.

I cannot pick "good" or "evil" in this story - but it seems to me that we shall have to at some point to maintain a consistent premise that sousveillance can check the power of oligarchy. Such is a premise in much First Amendment litigation - and one of the great distinctions between American society and Saudi society (where 'truth' is not a legal defense, by any stretch of the imagination) - and where government appointees curry favor by attacking any critics.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - I wasn't listing two attacks on sousveillance, just challenges that will have to be met. I'm still coming to terms with the concept, and thinking out loud about whether it has merit as a means of limiting modern manifestations of oligarchy (or whether, like law, it is more likely to serve to expand oligarch power, rather than restrain it).

With the "Private Attorney Generals Act" and qui tam actions, we do reward whistle blowers in many contexts - but to become an effective whistle blower, one must hide the intention to do so until after accumulating sufficient evidence: transparency only becomes possible after forming an intention to breach trust, or after another breach of trust occurred (e.g., many 'whistle blowers' are also 'disgruntled employees').

One sad aspect of the existing system is that a whistle blower aware of government corruption can profit by (1) bringing a public claims, (2) exploiting the fraud to obtain leverage over the corrupt officials, (3) joining the conspiracy, or (4) disclosing details to certain interested parties to empower them to utilize such information. But whatever happens in any single claim, any other employer will be aware of the duplicity at work in that employee (even with good motives, that employee needed to lie and distract to acquire that evidence) - so the whistleblower had better anticipate a lifetime wages as a payoff, or a broad life transition.

Davrod said...

I am interested in the idea of sousveillance that has been expanded across this blog, and would like to deepen my thinking on it. So I have a question.

If it is to be assumed that elites will resist attempts to limit their ability to see, including by circumventing the law, why should we not assume that Elites will resist attempts to expand sousveillance just as effectively and by the same means?

surveilance is known to exist, some say "dont look at us, we want laws to prevent this behaviour" and will be ignored as its not in the interests of the elites, some say "let us look too, at you specifically, and with an aim to regulate your behaviour" and will as surely be ignored for the same reason.

Tony Fisk said...

@Davrod, David has expanded on his ideas about 'sousveillance' in his non-fiction book "The Transparent Society".

Short answer: the elites' attempts to suppress being looked at will be as ineffectual as commoners for the same reason: the technology for looking will become ever more accessible, pervasive, and discreet. It grows faster than the technology for blocking.

Anonymous said...

"David Brin" said "...And besides, hiding from them is a cowardly, self-centered approach."

You're the guy at the pool party who strips naked and jumps in, then calls everyone else a chicken for not joining you. The fact is, you are an exhibitionist and a pervert, metaphorically speaking, and we are normal, modest people who prefer not to "let it all hang out". Of course, you know that about yourself, and revel in your "outlier" status, and we enjoy your occasionally entertaining antics, so I guess it all works out.

A.F. Rey said...

Alas, Anon, you are the Emperor, saying how nice and beautiful his new swim shorts are, and mocking David for not being able to hide anything, but not noticing that your shorts are see-through, too. :D

You don't get a vote on whether you are hidden or not. Or, more precisely, as was said by Kira on Deep Space Nine: "Of course you get a vote. It just doesn't count." :D

So the only question is, will you try to limit what others can do with what they see, or will you try to hide and ultimately fail?

locumranch said...


Most definitely, David is NOT "a pervert": He is very intelligent, open minded & inquisitive.

I suspect that David's infatuation with positive summing stems from a 'Belief in a Just World (BJW)' which, according to Lerner, Rubin & Peplau, is highly correlated with a tilt towards authoritarianism, an admiration for political leaders, an above-average work ethic, an internal locus of control (aka 'the expectation that one can determine their own rewards & punishments'), an exaggerated sense of trust & otherness, certain types of religiosity, and contempt for the underprivileged as expressed by morally-loaded terms like 'lazy', 'flawed', 'ignorant', 'unenlightened' & 'cheater'.

As Lerner wrote: “The belief that the world is just enables the individual to confront his physical and social environment as though they were stable and orderly. Without such a belief it would be difficult for the individual to commit himself to the pursuit of long-range goals or even to the socially regulated behavior of day-to-day life.”

Assuming that Transparency is inevitable & unstoppable, David labels the defiant Fight component of the 4F typology as futile (as in 'Resistance is Futile'), dismisses the dissociative Freeze response as unenlightened (cynical), and advocates in favour of a 'just' hybrid Fawn & Flight response wherein the compulsive workoholic ceaselessly proves their 'deservingness' by their cheerful & subservient utility to others.

Unfortunately, this 'Belief in a Just World' may generate more negative than positive consequences:

First, it can encourage a culture to exert tremendous effort in order to help right social wrongs & restore justice to the world;
Second, it can lead to justification rather than justice as we deny & minimise the suffering that results from this pursuit of justice;
Third, it may cause us to conclude that the suffering experienced by the unfortunate/unenlightened/masculine other is deserved; and
Fourth, it may result in magical thinking as we attribute all of our health, wealth & good fortune to cultural, intellectual & moral superiority rather than dumb luck or circumstance.

Although the negative effects of our BJW surround us -- manifest in the collapse of the EU, the progressive attempt to weaponise political correctness, the growing Red v. Blue divide, USA's disastrous foreign policy & the portrayal of climate change as 'sin' -- we repeat history & blind ourselves with the belief that our 'deservingness' will protect us from these negative consequences as if by magic.

http://hazlitt.net/blog/monstrous-cruelty-just-world

http://www.peplaulab.ucla.edu/Peplau_Lab/Publications_files/Rubin%20%26%20Peplau%201975s.pdf

http://pete-walker.com/fourFs_TraumaTypologyComplexPTSD.htm


Best

donzelion said...

@Tony - I suppose I'm still looking for the longer answer. Cameras can create a delusion of control, but the ability to (ab)use information is wholly distinct and comes from a totally different source than the mere acquisition of facts about the powerful.

Take Elizabeth Holmes: her $4.5 billion 'net worth' was shifted to $0 billion by Forbes, simply on a reassessment of the meaning of her "50%" ownership stake in Theranos (a drug lab kiosk supposedly deployed by Walgreens). A "thousand cameras" actually did follow her steps and story...and this week, one or two journalists took a different interpretation of what they saw (amounting to the evaporation of $4.5 billion - there's no new evidence about the products themselves that I'm aware of).

My fear with sousveillance is
(1) Miss Holmes has a strong incentive to squash anyone who disagreed with her assessment of the meaning of her wealth - and would doubtless have means to do so. Forbes is a touch more legit than Gawker, but the same tools work the same way.

(2) Gawker and similar rags would never have cared about the meaning of those notes anyway, so much as whoever she sleeps with, whether she said a dirty word, wore the wrong attire, got drunk and did something silly. Most vehicles monitoring such celebrities would be similarly fixated on trivialities, and miss the $4.5 billion story.

Perhaps these are not the sorts of problems sousveillance can address. (I have no specific information or connection with Theranos or Miss Holmes - but I'm very interested in the data that might be amassed through a kiosk-style medical lab, and who might use that for whatever purpose).

donzelion said...

@Locum - "if we can't hide (take Flight) from this New Transparency, then our societal defense responses are limited to Freeze, Fawn or Fight"

It's interesting that the typology you refer to as the 'societal defense responses' seems to have come from an attempt to identify various types of mental illness that manifest in response to trauma (and one would think, a very specific sort of abandonment trauma). It would seem that all four of the defense strategies harm the person adopting them. But beyond all that, is living in a "monitored society" a "traumatic" experience - or is this an "environmental condition" rather than a trauma?

Individual prey animals do adopt strategies like "fight, flight, freeze (hide), or fawn" when confronted by a predator they cannot otherwise oppose. One could imagine an individual response to a trauma resulting in a neural However, social prey animals have other, more complex social responses available to them (form a school, trample, confuse, out breed, build, among others). Humans may have more complex responses still (including, perhaps, sousveillance). An individual human participating in a collective adopting such an approach may still experience trauma and fall back on the more primitive approaches under certain conditions (e.g., the calf gets separated from the herd, and confronted by a pride of lions, reverts to fight/flight/etc.) - but that doesn't mean the social defense is faulty, only that it didn't protect that individual in that instance (it may have protected all the other calves, or it may have worked for that calf on a hundred other days, but not that day).

This is why I'm not really hostile to sousveillance - more, curious how it could work, and still trying to grapple with the function, if any.

Tim H. said...

donzelion, the handwriting has been on the wall for Elizabeth Holmes for a while now, see:
http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2015/10/15/theranos-and-its-blood-test-machine
My 2¢ is she bet that the technological development would be there when her customers needed it, and she lost. If her investors choose to punish her critics it'll open a particularly nasty can of worms, like, should successful competitors be liable for the losses of those they defeated in the marketplace?

Alfred Differ said...

@David: Your argument works for me, but seems to fall short with some of my friends. I’ve been trying to figure out why and what can be done. You explained in the book at catching the cheaters more often matters enough to change the game. I get that it makes the need to watch everyone all the time unnecessary, but it DOES require that we look more often. That comes with the territory for sousveillance.

I work a DoD contract supporting people who support the US Navy. We HAVE to watch for bad guys and each other for security reasons and do a reasonable job of it. Most of us don’t want to, though, and not out of laziness. They REALLY don’t want to do it and have to be reminded through persistent training each year to do what they are paid to do. People like Snowden got away with what he did because people like my peers relaxed their procedures that didn’t even involve watching him all the time. It was the simple stuff that didn’t get done that ended up mattering.

My immediate peers are great, of course. That’s part of why your argument works with me. I get the advantage we gain by watching often enough to drive up the chances of catching the cheaters. I don’t see how to make our attitudes scale, though. My more remote peers are paid well as protectors, but it is obvious they don’t really want to do what is necessary. From that, I suspect you are up against a cultural barrier that gets expressed as “Do not look at me”, but is more about a feeling that looking too much is a dehumanizing thing. We don’t dignify voyeurs for good reason, so I suspect your message needs something that explains to people why we should want to take a step in that direction without stepping off a nearby cliff.

I don’t see a flaw in your case. What I see is that it isn’t complete enough to explain to people why they must want to do something they currently don’t want to do. You describe the disaster that happens if they don’t, but not the wonder if they do. Well… you DO in your novels, but I think many are missing that.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: Regarding locumranch’s mental illness typology, I’m glad I read down the thread before responding. I was looking at ‘fawn’ and thinking it was awfully limiting when we have so many other closely related options. Social conditioning isn’t out of reach if the so-called predator is as human as us. Send in the lady with the curves if the predator is male and while he is distracted record him in the act. Get him counselling if his marriage is in trouble. Do what it takes to convince him to switch sides. 8)

My list includes consume from within, domesticate, black mail, undermine their ROI, and gossip and that’s without breaking a sweat. Humans are SO much more complex than his typology.

Regarding the Hulk Hogan settlement, I have to suspect much of that goes to paying legal fees. I sincerely hope that wrongful death cases involving children can be settled quickly keeping those fees down. If there is a silver lining to there being enough cases to calculate an average settlement it is that the lawyers involved should be able to explain how case law works there. With Hulk Hogan, we wouldn’t yet have enough cases, right? Until we do, I don’t think it fair to compare $140M to $1M. Apples and oranges.

David Brin said...

Anon’s crime is not illogic, ARF. His crime is incuriosity.

Locum, on the other hand, has an inner sould of a gentleman but is roiled by incessant grouchiness because of faults in percept which he cannot help, or indeed, grasp that he has. Take this:

“I suspect that David's infatuation with positive summing stems from a 'Belief in a Just World (BJW)’…”

Nice try, son. But you mile by several miles and almost two radians. In fact, my paranoia about Big Brother is vastly stronger than yours, because my awareness of human history runs vastly deeper. I now how easily everything we have - delights that you ingrates refuse to acknowledge - can be taken awa, tumbling us back into wretched feudalism.

It is BECAUSE I am deeply aware of those awaiting pits that I have done what you will never, ever do. I have looked closely at our present miracle and distilled the essence of why we have succeeded for ten generations at improving it, instead of losing it.

The positive sum games are about ACCOUNTABILITY. About shining light everywhere so that companies must compete, scientists must compete, litigants must compete, politicians must compete, and thus hold each other accountable.

And because cheating is kept below a dull roar, then people behave better and are more creative and the goodies flow.

Tell me, doesn’t it disturb you at all to always be so, so wrong about your reflex “conclusions?”

David Brin said...

donzel you too keep slipping your mind past the obvious. Those are exactly and precisely “the sorts of problems sousveillance can address.” Moreover your inability to see yourself… and your complaint… as an example of the self-corrective process is kinda disturbing.

Alfred, institutional reciprocal suspicion was satirized in Neal Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH where all that’s left of the USA in southern California is twenty acres next to the 405 freeway.

Alfred Differ said...

Isn’t there a decent argument to be made that we had accountability more than 10 generations ago too? What we have now is a different definition for ‘justice’ and that redefined what we mean by ‘accountability.’ European nobles were accountable to someone above them all the way up to and including Kings… at least it was believed to be so. With dignity and liberty for the bourgeoisie came a levelling, though, that demolished the old Justice.

I’d argue that Accountability is derivative. Dignity and Liberty come first. Not quite nit picking as it might help us spread the gain. For example, can I be surveilled and still maintain my dignity? I’d say yes with qualifications. Liberty? Same answer, but the qualifications might change. Give me both and I’ll reciprocate.

locumranch said...


Healthy adults have appropriate access to all of their 4F choices in response to danger: Easy access to the fight response insures good boundaries, healthy assertiveness and self-protection; an unimpeded flight response allows the adult to disengage and retreat when confrontation would exacerbate their danger; an appropriate freeze response allows the adult to give up and quit struggling when further activity or resistance is futile or counterproductive; the ability to fawn allows the adult to listen, help, and compromise as readily as they assert and express themselves; and, finally, a pathological response occurs when then individual fixates or is forced to rely on only one or two of the 4F responses.

I don't "dislike" Transparency (and/or Sousveillance) per se & I agree that it is a 'done deal'. David claims that positive sum games are about enforced ACCOUNTABILITY, enforced competition & shiny lights; however, by arguing that one cannot Fight (resist), Freeze (dissociate) or take Flight (escape) from Transparency's undesired advances, David recommends what amounts to a pathological Fawn response and, in advice eerily reminiscent of forced sexual violation, advises us to just relax & enjoy that from which we cannot escape, resist or dissociate.

Like most progressives, David is trying to 'force the issue' in matters of Transparency & Society and, by doing so, is creating unnecessary political opposition, social pathology & reflexive 'push back'. He has brought the metaphorical draft horse to water; he knows that the horse has no other choice but to drink; but, instead of waiting patiently for the horse to quaff (transparency, diversity, redundancy or what have you) at its own pace, he has resolved push the dumb brute's face into the trough & demand its immediate obedience.

The results of this ill-advised intervention will be neither pretty nor rational. This I know from personal non-metaphorical horse-related experience: Even the mildest & most gentle horse will smash you like a bug when provoked; and, Trump, Nationalism, Tumbrels, Jackboots & Bloodshed are just the beginning.

Once provoked, the Reactionary will cut off everyone's nose (including his own) to spite your face.


Best
______
First & foremost, the positive sum game requires CHOICE in the sense that it must be voluntary. Forced Accountability is NOT accountability when this term is defined as "an obligation or WILLINGNESS to accept responsibility"; and, forced competition is NOT competition when this term is defined as "a person or group TRYING to succeed against another".

David Brin said...

I have to admit that I am fascinated! He is simply incapable of grasping the notion that he cannot see or grasp some concepts. It's like watching a tone-deap, mostly deaf and rhythm-deficient person howl rock music and flail at a guitar. Real Bill & Ted stuff.

" however, by arguing that one cannot Fight (resist), Freeze (dissociate) or take Flight (escape) from Transparency's undesired advances, David recommends what amounts to a pathological Fawn response.."

Sorry guy. You are like some ship captain at the Battle of Jutland, firing away at a Danish lighthouse. "By arguing..." Har!

How does one argue with someone who is waaaay over somewhere screaming a a strawman of his own creation? One cannot help but stare.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: I really don’t see how you can interpret David as trying to force anything. He is advocating, not forcing. You are also getting some of what he advocates wrong. YOU are the one making the connection to forced sexual interaction… not him. What he is pointing out is that it is stupid to resist the tsunami.

You can flee if you like, but you just might have to do a bit more than wear a mask or hide behind encryption.

You can fight if you like, but you’ll need quite a few allies to fend off a civilization.

You may also freeze. You have a better chance of succeeding at that than fleeing since the world is rather small. Your best chance is to avoid urban areas and let yourself be frozen in time too.

If fawning is more to your tastes, please don’t submit to anyone. Your best option is to own your options as best you can. You won’t own them all, but you don’t today either. No one ever does.

Seriously. This isn’t about forcing you into anything. You don’t get to control the stage and the scenery on it any more than any of us do, but how you act is up to you. The stage is established by our civilization, so it’s not like you have no say about it either.

Alfred Differ said...

From hanging out on a few local boards/blogs over the years, I've learned that when two people really don't get each other, it is best to have them meet face to face over a couple of beers. I’ve had the opportunity three distinct times and benefited from each. One was deeply religious, thus started from very different assumptions. Another was so ticked off he advocated building a border wall and laying mines near it. The last was a commercial real estate developer. All of them failed to convince me of their opinions, but they were more understandably human once I got to meet them.

Dark beers so thick a spoon would stand up in them. That’s what I like. 8)

Tacitus2 said...

Although many other mistakes were made at Jutland I do not believe any lighthouses came under fire....

Tacitus

Paul SB said...

Tacitus, while you may be historically correct (WW 1 naval battles are not my area of expertise), I think people get the analogy.

But on another matter, I think Don Ze Lion had a point worth considering w/ #2 (way, way up there). While I agree with Dr. Brin's retort, people nonetheless remain obsessed with such banal pursuits. Gossip seems to be built into our DNA, or if not, it's a synergistic effect of our intelligence and social drives. The tragedy of Princess Diana's accidental death trying to evade paparazzi did nothing whatsoever to shame the industry, because the market is huge.

Given that this is a community of science fiction people, I would think some of us would be interested in speculating beyond the limitations of today. It seems to me that we have a lot of evolutionary baggage that needs to be removed from our genomes before we can make any lasting change. There was a novel I read back in my college days called "Ascending" in which one alien race was manipulating others to take them out of serious competition, not by trying to destroy them (a trick that always backfires - think about the rage of Nanjing) but by getting them hooked on commercialism. Another race, called the "Cashlings" had been under the the first race's influence for so long, they had lost all drive to do anything at all except scrounge money with which to purchase entertainments made by other species (they had stopped creating their own entertainments generations before, because none of them had any creative drive). This transformation was not accomplished by direct genetic manipulation, but by social manipulation. But after 1000 years natural selection had set in (or more likely sexual selection), no doubt acting on baseline hormone and neurotransmitter levels, ultimately changing the genetics of the population.

So what might it take to do this to our own race? Not turn us into entertainment zombies (there are most definitely a quantity of people who fall into that category already) - but rather weed demand for paparazzi peeping out of the species?

David Brin said...

Bah, Alfred sorry but you understand the concept no better than locumranch does.

Most of the oppression across history was done by cheaters. And nearly all cheaters and bullies and criminals and corrupt officials and exploiters and rapists ... are lethally allergic to light. And if they are protected by high authorities? Then those authorities are lethally allergic to light.

I will not need to fight or fawn or flee, if I can easily apply accountability and clearly show how I am being oppressed, showing it to either honest systems or to millions of neighbors. And if I can do that and my neighbors can do that then the bullies will get used to limitations on their bullying and it won't be a habit.

I have better things to do the fighting, fawning fleeing or whatever. I want to do NONE of those things and most of my life I have done none of them on any given day, unlike all my ancestors. I do them so little because I am confident that I CAN fight, effectively, if I must.

Paul SB said...

Now the letters /p/ and /g/ are pretty far from each other on the keyboard, so I am assuming that my "Rape of Nanjing" turned into "Rage of Nanjing" was some kind of autocorrection error, but I would think it would have done something weirder with the name of a Chinese city...

Dr. Brin's latest comment just brought to mind the peasant from "The Holy Grail" who shouted, "Help, I'm being oppressed! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!"

Few people really see the world beyond the limitations of their own place and time. It takes a willingness to accept the possibility that your gut instincts might turn out to be completely wrong - a prospect most people will not seriously entertain.

Erin Schram said...

donzelion said,
...to become an effective whistle blower, one must hide the intention to do so until after accumulating sufficient evidence: transparency only becomes possible after forming an intention to breach trust, or after another breach of trust occurred (e.g., many 'whistle blowers' are also 'disgruntled employees').

One sad aspect of the existing system is that a whistle blower aware of government corruption can profit by (1) bringing a public claims, (2) exploiting the fraud to obtain leverage over the corrupt officials, (3) joining the conspiracy, or (4) disclosing details to certain interested parties to empower them to utilize such information. But whatever happens in any single claim, any other employer will be aware of the duplicity at work in that employee (even with good motives, that employee needed to lie and distract to acquire that evidence) - so the whistleblower had better anticipate a lifetime wages as a payoff, or a broad life transition.


In real life, other whistleblower options have taken place. Consider an investigative journalist following up on clues. The journalist is not under the authority of the corrupt official. Perhaps those clues came from a mundane consequence of the illegal activity, not from a whistleblower. Or perhaps a whistleblower contacted the journalist as a protected source and took no more risk and asked for no reward.

Wired magazine recently published an article, Ripple Effect on Virginia Tech water quality expert Marc Edwards. He accepted the call to help the people of Flint, Michigan, prove that their water was poisonous because he was a responsible citizen with the necessary expertise. In 2003 a previous employer had lost a contract to test water in Washington, D.C., because Edwards' tests had shown that the water was contaminated with lead, but he had persisted in revealing that, too. I don't see any breach of trust by Edwards.

Another whistleblower made the news last week. John Crane, a former lawyer in the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, revealed how his boss deliberately sabotaged the complaint of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. Crane claims that his boss thought that covering up a case was better for advancement than letting a whistleblower make waves.

In 2007 Drake had publicly complained about waste and fraud due to Project Trailblazer, an ambitious, gigantic effort to upgrade all the computer systems at the NSA. Trailblazer failed, because the job was too big for the contractors hired to do it, though it had partial successes on individual subsystems. Drake knew of an alternative that would have had a better chance of success, but was not as flashy as Trailblazer, so he pointed out the waste to Congressional staffers, to the Office of the Inspector General, and eventually to the Baltimore Sun newspaper. The NSA and the FBI, to our discredit, treated him as if he were a spy leaking classified material rather than as a whistleblower who had tried to follow proper procedure and had not revealed classified information. As an NSA employee, I was confused, because unlike claims of other NSA-related whistleblowers, Thomas Drake's claims looked accurate.

These whistleblowers had tried to correct mistakes and would have done so in the ordinary course of their jobs with minimal fuss if the system had not failed above them. Their motivation was fulfilling a responsibility. It is what we adults do and we would do it with only the reward of preventing a trainwreck. The reason to financially reward whistleblowers is to balance the risk of financial loss from being a whistleblower, and that risk also includes the chance never receiving the reward.

Erin Schram said...

David Brin said,
I will not need to fight or fawn or flee, ...
But accountability is a fight, though a civilized one. We fight against cheaters by making cheating difficult. We fight against oppressors by claiming level ground. We fight against corruption by bringing it to light.

By fighting now in a peaceful manner, fighting by rule of law, we avoid fighting in a violent manner.

David Brin said...

ErinS of course we must fight! In order to save a system that does NOT threaten us or force us to fight or flee daily! We must be tense in order to have a world in which we can relax. We must live in a realm of mostly light, so we can catch those who would peer into our private spaces. and our hearts. We must harshly judge the judgmental.

And go forth and CRUSH the power of any system that does not practice tolerance.

I know that absolutely none of the irony in the above statements will be visible to locum. But most of you understand the zen-koan irony, and chuckle at it. And it is that rueful, head-shaking chuckle... recognizing the inherent contradictions of our unprecedented revolution in human affairs... that is the one cue that we can be trusted, tentatively. For now.

donzelion said...

@Tim H - re Miss Holmes - honestly, I'm not so bothered by her story, save as an illustration of sousveillance slumbering. Journalists put 2+2 together and reached $4.5 billion. Other journalists reviewed a couple of paragraphs, and revised that to $0. Still others are probably miffed she hasn't yielded any entertaining sexcapades, and couldn't care less about the rest (though if she really has $0 net worth, their interest in her sexcapades would dwindle). And such are the champions to defend us from oligarchs (at least, those oligarchs they're not inventing)? Perhaps. Indeed, perhaps these are indeed the perfect guardians of our galaxy - because they're so hilariously flawed, reaching conclusions that shift incredible fortunes into and out of existence with quantum elegance.

@Alfred - ah, of course, seduction - a tactic as old as Gilgamesh (at least in literary history). Hogan's legal fees are probably on the order of $10 million (last report I heard); my understanding is that if Thiel bankrolled it, then it wasn't done on a contingency basis (which would be rare in a defamation context). Assuming $500 an hour at a blended rate (which would typically only apply for seasoned associates), that's 20,000 hours poured into this circus. Took me about 200 to get a single innocent man out of detention (many lawyers would be much faster; most wouldn't even have bothered). I can parse the reasoning for the award - but no matter how I try, it bothers me that a child's life is typically found to be worth less than 1/140th of the value of Hogan's reputation. The fact that I'm bothered by that isolates me from a fair number of my colleagues. The fact that I'm bothered by it without getting paid to bother with it isolates me from even more.

@Dr. Brin - "Moreover your inability to see yourself… and your complaint… as an example of the self-corrective process is kinda disturbing." The flesh is willing, the conscience wishes to play its part in the self-corrective process, but the heart is broken, and looking to mend. I drank the koolaid about the possibility of technology breaking down oligarchic despots 22 years ago - pursued it to its then-seeming logical conclusion, crashed into a reef of irony, and am returning to a source of different logic trying to find what I missed. The term "sousveillance" is new to me, but the processes of transparency are not. I grapple with sousveillance and it's prospects like a lowly knight seeking a holy grail, while Don Quixote laughs at the effort: but I grapple in good faith, trying to add what I can, even if that amounts to little more than a question. I would rather be part of a self-corrective process in some way.

donzelion said...

@Erin - "The reason to financially reward whistleblowers is to balance the risk of financial loss from being a whistleblower, and that risk also includes the chance never receiving the reward."

Concur, and it's good reasoning. My problem is not that incentives are needed to protect and reward whistle-blowers, or that whistle-blowers may act out of selfish as well as noble intentions, but that the process of whistle-blowing itself requires folks to act from behind a veil of opacity in order to achieve transparency. Journalists, like other interrogators, don't follow "clues" so much as they use clues to pin down sources. There is a cat'n'mouse gambit, with the two parties switching roles from time to time, but not a collective omni-panopticon.

donzelion said...

@Tim H in re Elizabeth Holmes - it just occurred to me that my raising her story may be misinterpreted as some judgment about her (e.g., "How dare this beautiful young thing garner a fortune that big while so young!"). Not at all my intention, or concern.

Rather, I think we generally concur about the business gamble behind her company. Moreover, I'd say that sort of gamble is essential for innovation. The game is still in play, the gamble may yet pay out. Innovation is all about taking failures and transforming them into successes. Early steam engines sucked for their first purposes of pumping water out of mines (a hundred times more expensive than a team of mules, and much harder to feed). Gunpowder killed nearly as many men firing the guns as it did targets on the other side.

For some, Steve Jobs is a sort of prophet. To me, Steve Jobs nearly bankrupted Apple, before Bill Gates stepped in to save it - absent a little help from an 'arch-frenemy' - we might never have seen iPods, iPhones, etc. And absent a lot of help from near-cultlike fans, iMac 1.0, iPod 1.0, iPhone 1.0, and iPad 1.0 would each have proven a disaster, as the launch devices offered little compared to the competitors they challenged - at first.

I have no assessment of who Miss Holmes is as a person, or really as a business woman. Had she hidden her financial backing more carefully (e.g., offshore securities trades), who would have caught on to the vanishing $4.5 billion? Yet perhaps that means that the rest of Forbes' numbers are equally laughable - and thus, uncritical readers of Forbes judgments are the fools following a fool - and the uncritical readers and journalists of Gawker are the fools rejecting a fool unless that fool entertains them by acting like a stripper.

Tim H. said...

Your take on Apple is not entirely wrong, but Microsoft's commitment to continue Word for Mac was worth more than the stock purchase. The Steve's superpower was in driving a team to make the best of the technology available, other teams often fell victim to passing along flawed work because of time constraints. Looking at tech news, it seems to be Microsoft's turn in the barrel, One Windows might ultimately work out, but right now it's kind of a mess. If they're lucky, in a few years they might be able to build something out of the wreckage of Win Mobile, which BTW, I've been using, and like.

Tacitus2 said...

Since we all love us some Sci Fi....

An obscure fave of mine "The Fall of Colossus" has a world controlling computer (hey, it was a novel idea back then) keep mankind's violent tendencies channeled by having WWI type dreadnoughts, their tech set at Jutland level, fight it out under remote control. It was like football with nations rooting for "their" battleship. The protagonists of the book find a way to distract Colossus long enough to mobilize the combined fleets and use them to demand the surrender of coastal capitals. It works....for a few minutes, then Something Worse happens.

The author was a Brit named Jones. Former RN officer.

Tacitus

locumranch said...



I have a passing familiarity with irony, the irony being that I actually AGREE with most of the argument & morality expressed here:

(1) The 4F typology (Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn) is merely a modern elaboration of the old 'Fight or Fight' model;
(2) I agree that Transparency is a fait accompli, never accused David of 'forcing' Transparency on anyone but accused him only of forcing its acceptance; and
(3) I agree that anyone would have to be INSANE to destroy the best that Western Society has to offer.

And here comes the irony:

(1) Some choose to interpret the 4F typology as a personal attack though none is intended;
(2) Like (tired) children sent to bed, many people will resist the fait accompli even when in their best interest; and
(3) Western Society manufactures insanity at a prodigious rate (estimated at 34 to 50% of total population) in a manner that ensures its own destruction.

That said, Transparency ACCEPTANCE is still highly problematic, especially in world cultures that value 'Face'.

I would also like to share a beer with all concerned.


Best

raito said...

Tacitus2,

But remember the rest of the Colossus series...
Computer takes over.
Man beats computer.
Maybe Man shouldn't have beaten the computer.

There's some notion out there that if there were universal surveillance, there would be so much information that individual acts would get lost in the sea of data. I'm afraid I don't agree. Big data is where the most currently useful AI is being studied.

My own fear is not exactly that the data will be used against people. That's a given, but falls under our author's definition of 'cheating', I think, and so can be mitigated.

What I fear is that the algorithms will falsely determine 'truth'. Some time ago, there was a study done at Berkeley (I think), where the researchers studied whether the government's assertions about phone metadata were true. Naturally, they weren't. The researchers had people voluntarily hand over the metadata, and it got studied. They were able to determine an awful lot from who calls whom from where at what time. And some of their wrong guesses would have been very unpleasant to bring into the open.

Tacitus2 said...

Ratio

I thought Colossus and the Crab was by far the least interesting of the trilogy. I ignored it on purpose.

"I would also like to share a beer with all concerned."

Sometimes suggestions offered in jest have the greatest merit. LarryHart and I have often talked about meeting at the Illinois-Wisconsin border for a delivery of Relief Parcels. Our meeting at Checkpoint Colby hasn't happened yet because we differ on whose state is on the brink of economic collapse and reversion to a barter economy. Perhaps with a Republican governor now Larry would compromise at "both" and we could simply exchange boxes of meat, lager and toilet paper.

Now, just the two of us would hardly merit the moniker ConBrinCon-1, but if there were some sentiments among our other commentators in the area.....

As it happens I shall briefly be in Beloit in July.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Tacitus thanks for the suggestion! And How cool if the first Brin-con happened in the upper midwest. I married a Hoosier, but that’s not local …

donzelion understood. Your fights within the system for justice have justifiably given you a well-earned cynical surface. I honor that. Yet I urge you to recall that you are not the only one noticing, grumbling and fighting. And THAT phenomenon is the thing that turns transparency into accountability… which in turn results in freedom

I am ferocious about the need for better, more systematic whistle blower laws, and REWARDS to entice private henchmen to squeal. Along the way we must negotiate sliding scales of penalties for frivolous or petty “whistleblowers” who ignore in-house systems for sometimes anonymous tattling… and truly neutral parties to adjudicate. All the while giving honest civil servants some room and benefit of the doubts for sincere mistakes.

locum I understand your sincerity and I truly do not mean hurt when I point out (sometimes roughshod) your rather odd way of envisioning strawmen opponents far, far from anyone I know … or see in a mirror. You seem plenty tough enough to take it. I do not take personal insult (usually), though it can be irksome having beliefs attributed to me that are far from mine own.

Western society does produce many lunatics of all kinds. You get that with freedom and when a society stops repressing eccentricity. That is a cost for the other - spectacular - output… far more brilliance and a higher proportion of truly or close-to SANE citizens and creative-competitive-cooperative neighbors than all other civilizations, combined. The latter are worth the former…

… though the lunatics have poisoned American politics almost to death, and could be the true death of us, in November.

donzelion said...

@Locum - "The 4F typology (Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn) is merely a modern elaboration of the old 'Fight or Fight' model"

Isn't the 'fight or flight' model about instinctive responses to direct threats? The mental health typology you quoted suggests that extensive use of these responses (and fawn/freeze) manifests in various, but predictable mental illnesses. (I think I cut out a sentence or two in my previous response to you, sorry). Among those sorts of trauma, the fear of abandonment referred to in that quote is a cognitive expression, linked closely with the discovery that others - even loved ones - are not fully under our control.

Yet surveillance, oligarchy, and the like are indirect threats. We do not perceive them cognitively, but through our interpretative faculties. No direct instinct will effectively respond to a rational, non-instinctual threat. Our reptilian brain is generally incapable of helping us handle more complex meanings, and attempting to utilize it where it is not suited to the task may manifest in certain types of madness.

Illustration: science per se is merely a process of testing and rejecting possible explanations for observable phenomena. However, the risk of any test is that our preconceptions may have to be renounced - as well as any meanings based on those preconceptions. That risk terrifies many people, who have a fragile sense of identity. But this is no primal threat, but rather, the 'threat' if any arises from attachments to meanings. To respond to a discovery with 'fight/flight/fawn/freeze' is to miss the new meanings made available by scientific processes - to fight the idea (obstinately, angrily repudiating), to flee the idea (embracing distraction), or to embrace 'protectors' from such 'threats' (fawning).

Perhaps that is the madness in contemporary Western society: "we" long for ideas that can create great power - but we dread those ideas when they may disrupt the very concept of 'we.'

Tacitus2 said...

"..the first Brin-con"

Don't get delusions of grandeur. I'll be down that way on an annual Minor League baseball road trip with my brother. Think Bull Durham. Sure could have a drink or two. Who knows, might be pancakes involved.

Tacitus

matthew said...

At the Portland book signing / speechifying for "Existence" I remember thinking of asking how many frequent posters to CB were in the audience. I know a *lot* of the posters here are Oregonians. Kind of regret not asking as I would have loved a beer with you all.

David Brin said...

So does that mean we are all challenged to "name our state?"
Call-ee-forn-ya as you all knew.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

David Brin, from his comment last night: "We must harshly judge the judgmental. And go forth and CRUSH the power of any system that does not practice tolerance."

That's my new favorite Brin quote. It precisely sums up what libertarianism was at one time. At that time, I knew two people who were helping Harry Browne to write his 1973 book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. That book, written far ahead of its time (but useful to anyone in any time period) was essentially a manual for how to live your life in a newly transparent society. It is still available on Kindle.

Transparency mandates freedom. A transparent society is inevitable, therefore a much freer society is also inevitable. We must begin to take steps to carefully and systematically move toward much greater levels of personal freedom. Otherwise, the inevitable transition to a much freer society will involve great pain and chaos.

Treebeard said...

Oh come on, no election is the death of a nation. And if it is, then it deserves to die.

A nation has an independent existence, which the political and economic systems are supposed to serve and preserve. It seems that we live in a time when this has become inverted, so nations must serve political and economic regimes, or be dissolved entirely. But which lasts longer, nations or governments? Tribes or constitutions? Religions or ideologies? I for one want a nation, not a government!

Jumper said...

Bull Durham country is North Carolina, my stomping grounds, but I grok you aren't referring to here. "Mini-Brincons" only take two, and only require an online report afterwards to achieve full reality deserving of the name. Or so I suggest.

Charlotte, North Carolina, to be more precise. You might have heard of it. The city council here in Charlotte, North Carolina voted a non-discrimination ordinance recently... it seems to have made the news...

A few months ago, a local woman and her accomplice from here in Charlotte by God North Carolina packed up and journeyed over the state line where she shinnied up a flagpole in a bit of Capture the Flag and made off with a certain old naval battle flag which had been adopted by the locals as a symbol. Unfortunately some good ol' boys relieved her of this burden right there, but the point had been made...

As has mine.

LarryHart said...

raito:

I'm a bit of an example of this. I expect to be treated poorly by those in power because it's what's happened in the past. By contrast, I have a friend who has never been significantly screwed over. For him, the world is a nice, warm, fluffy place. Must be nice


It's the Superman/Batman dichotomy, which was described in the mid-1980s "Dark Knight" series. An aged and dying Batman is armored up in a tank-like suit and getting into a knock-down fight with Superman, accusing the Kryptonian of taking orders from anyone with a badge. Paraphrasing but very close to the original: "...because that's what your parents taught you to do. My parents, on the other hand, taught me a very different lesson, as they lay twitching and bleeding to death. They taught me that the world only makes sense if you force it to."

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Although the negative effects of our BJW surround us -- manifest in the collapse of the EU, the progressive attempt to weaponise political correctness, the growing Red v. Blue divide, ...


Again, "Like a bad marksman, you keep missing the target!"

While the left does weaponize political correctness in some arenas, the effect is negligible compared to the innate authoritarianism and "BJW" (in the sense of "poor people are poor because they made bad choices") endemic to the political right. And yet, you keep blaming Blue America and touting Red America as the bulwark against the problem, when as Reagan might have said: "Red America is not the solution to the problem. It is the problem."

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Oh come on, no election is the death of a nation. And if it is, then it deserves to die.


If I understand Dr Brin's concern (which I share), he means that President Trump might do to America what Chancellor Hitler did to Germany. And sure, Germany endures to this day, and something called "The United States of America" will be around for a long time to come, no matter who is president. But for most of us, "America" is an ideal as much as it is a nation. And if we become as brutal as ISIS in order to defeat ISIS, or if we become as intolerant of dissent as Donald Trump seems to be, or if we become a swaggering bully on the world stage, then there won't be an "America" any more unless some other nation steps up to the plate.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"name our state?"

Southland!!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

So does that mean we are all challenged to "name our state?"


I'm a lifetime Chicagoan, so "Illinois".

Tacitus2:

As it happens I shall briefly be in Beloit in July.


That's not too far from Rockford, and just may be do-able, especially if you'll be there on a weekend. Hmmmmm.....

Tacitus2 said...

Saturday, 23 July...Beloit Snappers class A baseball...

Snappy D Turtle is one of my favorite mascots.

Tacitus

Alfred Differ said...

@David: I get your concept. I’m putting on the opponent’s hat and trying to figure out how it changes the way they think.

Yes. Oppression across history was done by cheaters… by our current definition of what qualifies as Justice. That definition changed with the Dutch and English in the 17th and 18th centuries to what we use now and then caught on with others. I suspect if you pin locumranch down enough, you’ll find his definition diverges a bit around what he considers his due from others. I suspect his is closer to the older pre-bourgeois definition where the nobles weren’t cheating BY DEFINITION. They were due what was given to them by a custom we flatly refuse today.

The allergy to light stems from our current tradition of what is just and a willingness to enforce it. A true aristocrat wouldn’t be afraid of the light until we showed up with the tumbrel.

Most people have bought into the new definitions for what is considered virtuous behavior and probably don’t think much about it, let alone the fact that they didn’t used to be what they are now. For example, it wasn’t long ago that a merchant couldn’t be courageous by definition. We don’t think that way about entrepreneurs and inventors anymore. Even small business owners are supported in their sense of dignity in what they do by many of us. That wasn’t always so.

This effort to get inside other’s heads stems from my difficulty pitching your idea. That’s why I suspect something is missing to complete the argument. Too many of my friends think it is alien. It could be me, of course, but I doubt it.

David Brin said...

Jerry E I wish I were as sanguine about transparency inevitably becoming so evenly shared that it delivers on its promise. Yes, I believe it could, if we are aggressively assertive in citizenship and unafraid of light… knowing that it is enemies of freedom and justice who are allergic to light.

But history suggests our struggle remains uphill against human nature. Every elite will rationalize reasons why it should be allowed shrouds and shadows. And from there, Big Brother will surely be born.

Treebeard asks a real question, this time and thus gets the respect of using his (cowardly feigned) name.

Barring maniacal misuse of weaponry (see HClinton’s words on that, today) DT would not kill the nation, as such. But its role as leader in the Great Experiment could end, if we follow a Mussolini spiral. Indeed, the two times that Gray America (also “red” or the confederacy) won phases of our Civil War… 1852 and 1872… the result was catastrophe for justice and dignity and freedom and honor. Fortunately, Blue America won all the others. It MUST win this round, or we will sink into dismal wretchedness just when the world needs us most.

Aug 23-25 I will be in the NCarolina- Charlotte area for a NASA meeting.

Alfred Differ said...

California, Ventura county.

Beaches are fun, but Vegas is in easy reach and I have family there. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I’ll trust your estimate of Hogan’s legal fees and then offer my default eye-roll at jury-created-law like settlement values. I’ve studied a bit how these affect insurance rates and done what some other entrepreneurs have done when they avoid certain market niches. Sigh.

Regarding Miss Holmes, I would suggest not worrying too much about the role of journalists for sousveillance. You won’t be able to tell the difference between the Ms Commoner and Ms Journalist soon enough. What will matter is the size of their social network and how many otherwise disjointed graphs they connect. Any large network is probably going to have social T-cells in them sniffing at dark corners. Straddling nodes will spot connections fastest and communicate. When you imagine who will be wielding the cameras and microphones, imagine amateurs friendly with connectors who know how to tweet.

David Brin said...

HClinton's top 13 Trump zingers from the San Diego speech

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a59345/hillary-clinton-speech-donald-trump-foreign-policy/

Alfred Differ said...

@Jerry: I doubt transparency is inevitable. Getting there will require innovation on a number of levels and we are pretty good at that. Unfortunately, there is a way to stifle it. Convince many of us not to dignify each other’s work. It’s a kind of role oriented character assassination. An example is David’s concern about the war on smarty-pants. Strip our dignity and we will retreat to our historical shells. Innovation halts.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

@Alfred: I think that the transparent society is inevitable. It is just that there are a number of preventable catastrophic events that could delay it by many decades. Our civilization has become downright enthusiastic about being as fragile as possible. Even the prevalent management philosophies all include making companies, and their surrounding communities, as fragile as possible.

Considering what is at stake, this maintaining of a fragile civilization is stupid beyond all ordinary powers of the human imagination.

A lot of us, though, are fighting for a resilient civilization. We're having some success at it. There is even a foundation called the Foundation for Resilient Societies. There is real progress happening toward beginning to rebuild resilience into the basic physical infrastructures of our civilization.

There is, so far, a lot less progress in the problem of fragility in the physical infrastructure within private companies. Too many private companies are just letting their internal physical infrastructure rot.

Paul SB said...

Alfred, I'm in Glendora, so with good traffic I could meet you at your favorite drinking establishment in about an hour and a half. Then I can differ with you in person! ;) You would probably be disappointed, though, as I don't drink.

If I weren't doing summer school this year, I would be tempted by a road trip, though I doubt I would make it as far as Chicago or the Land of Cheeses. Knowing me I would hit the Rockies, get out of my car and get lost just below tree line, scree-skiing for miles.

My daughter would prefer I head south, though, to meet up with our host, but he's a pretty busy hominid.

On the subject of our host, you referenced Mussolini as a parallel with Donald Dunk. Most people make the more obvious comparison between DT & Adolf Hitler. Is there a specific parallel you see between the Trumper and Il Duce that would be different from Der Fuhrer? I feel like I am missing something obvious.

I agree that a Trump Administration would not be the end of America. That's hyperbole. It's just like saying global warming would be the end of the world. It might be the end of the human species, but the world will keep orbiting Sol for a long time to come. It might be covered in a thin veneer of plastic, but it will stile there. Old Joe McCarthy didn't manage to turn the U.S. into a dictatorship, and neither did either of the shrubs. But if I may use a medical analogy:

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” Hans Selye (1907-1982)


Jerry Emanuelson said...

A few weeks ago, I mentioned here a single national HVDC (high-voltage direct current) transmission line system proposed by NOAA that would go a long way toward alleviating some of the greatest problems currently faced by our civilization, including climate change, the severe solar storm threat and the nuclear EMP threat.

In the June 2 issue of the Washington Post, Dr. Alexander MacDonald, the lead author of the proposal, has an excellent article describing the proposal in some detail. That Washington Post article is at:


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/06/02/save-the-climate-and-protect-america-build-an-underground-energy-interstate-now/


Dr. MacDonald's primary co-author on the original article had earlier written another article about the proposal that is at:

https://theconversation.com/the-cheapest-way-to-scale-up-wind-and-solar-energy-high-tech-power-lines-53597


Laurent Weppe said...

* "Yes. Oppression across history was done by cheaters… by our current definition of what qualifies as Justice"

Our "current" definition of Justice stems from eons of darwinian selection among Mammals: if a Capuchin, whose last common ancestors with us lived 35 millions years ago, is capable of seeing when a girl in a lab coat screws him over, a medieval or antiquity peasant didn't need modern intellectuals to explain to him when his ermine-wearing lords were doing the same, which explains why attempts at genociding the upper-class have been around for a very long time (sometimes, they even succeeded).

If anything, it's the custom of paying tribute to hereditary aristocrats that's the (relatively) new thing: you need more than a couple of bullies to establish an aristocracy: you need troops, numerous enough to make the threat of slaughtering rebellious villages credible, ruling over a territory productive enough that the commoners can sustain themselves even after having fed the lords (starving people don't obey), and for most of our species' existences, these conditions weren't met: it took agriculture, sedentarization, and the massive growth in human population we've known for the last few millennia: 4-5% of Homo-Sapiens time on Earth.

Laurent Weppe said...

And because, two times out of three, my posts vanish when I add more than one link, I'll add a screenshot of the text.

Mariam said...

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locumranch said...



Higher Order Civilisations require a modicum of Trust which arises from tradition, commonality, shared goals & homogeneity, allowing for cooperation & specialisation, whereas a need for Transparency implies DISTRUST, divergent goals & heterogeneity.

Like mental health, then, the utility of Transparency becomes a question of BALANCE: Too little transparency undermines commonality & allows cheaters to prosper, while too much transparency allows for witch hunts, pogroms & a loss of freedoms.

High trust/low transparency cultures emphasise Dignity; low trust/high transparency cultures emphasise Face; high trust/high transparency cultures emphasise Honour; and low trust/low transparency cultures fragment.

In reference to the North America experiment: "The honor group consisted of Southerners and Hispanics, the dignity group of Northern Anglos, and the face group of Asian Americans."

https://staffanspersonalityblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/honor-dignity-and-face-culture-as-personality-writ-large/

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/100/3/507/


Problems occur, however, when one tries to apply Transparency as a universal panacea:

(1) To the Northern Anglo Dignity group (with their assumption of innate dignity), Transparency is either irrelevant or an affront to personal dignity;

(2) To the Southern/Hispanic Honour group (which values interpersonal justice), Transparency often triggers righteous violence; and

(3) To the Asian American Face group (which prioritises shame), Transparency may trigger the self-destructive impulse.

Although sufficient to explain the growing Red v. Blue divide on the North American continent, I suspect that this analysis (offered by Leung & Cohen) is somewhat incomplete -- insomuch as it fails to address certain Middle Eastern 'low trust/low transparency' cultures that appear to combine the worst (?) aspects of Honour & Shame in an unstable mix -- leading me to conclude that other culture subtypes exist which may respond to Transparency questions with various amounts of rejection & acceptance.

Even so, I would caution that 'Too Much Transparency, Too Fast' (with its implied DISTRUST of the other) could have wide-reaching, unanticipated & devastating cultural consequences for all concerned, if this is not already the case globally, and could easily escalate into internecine conflict & cultural collapse.


Best

David Brin said...

“while too much transparency allows for witch hunts, pogroms & a loss of freedoms.”

Again and again… he just does not get it. Try, son. Try hard. Think it through. The ones hunting the witches are impeded if the witches can look BACK! Especially if they can make common cause with the Jews and peasants and others in a shared belief that protecting another person’s eccentricities will help protect one’s own. Pogroms are a sign of INSUFFICIENT transparency.

“High trust/low transparency cultures emphasise Dignity; low trust/high transparency cultures emphasise Face; high trust/high transparency cultures emphasise Honour; and low trust/low transparency cultures fragment. “

Interesting assertion. Though utterly vague. Still, for once you have provided something germane and actually kinda interesting.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

On the subject of our host, you referenced Mussolini as a parallel with Donald Dunk. Most people make the more obvious comparison between DT & Adolf Hitler. Is there a specific parallel you see between the Trumper and Il Duce that would be different from Der Fuhrer? I feel like I am missing something obvious.


In many ways, Mussolini is probably the better comparison, because Trump probably isn't quite at the genocide level. But he is all about the tropes of fascism, both the "government partnership with corporations" and the "threats and actual violence against dissenters" aspects. And Mussolini pretty much invented 20th century fascism.

There is one aspect of the Trump candidacy, however, which reminds me specifically of Hitler. On Bill Press's radio show yesterday, they were mentioning that Mitch McConnell in the Senate has come around to supporting Trump because the inexperienced Trump will be amenable to doing what he is instructed by the congressional Republicans. These people need to read about how Hitler was supposed to be just so malleable. Or if that's too much to expect, they need to at least watch the scene from "Cabaret" with the song "Tomorrow Belongs To Me", at the end of which, the rhetorical question is asked "Do you still think they can control them?"

LarryHart said...

...that was supposed to be: "Do you still think you can control them?"

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Higher Order Civilisations require a modicum of Trust which arises from tradition, commonality, shared goals & homogeneity, allowing for cooperation & specialisation, whereas a need for Transparency implies DISTRUST, divergent goals & heterogeneity.


The demand for transparency implies distrust, although even there I would suggest there are many levels ("I doubt your intentions" and "Let me check your work" both involve a certain amount of distrust, but are quite different).

OTOH, the willingness to provide transparency implies trust.

Erin Schram said...

raito said,
What I fear is that the algorithms will falsely determine 'truth'. Some time ago, there was a study done at Berkeley (I think), where the researchers studied whether the government's assertions about phone metadata were true. Naturally, they weren't. The researchers had people voluntarily hand over the metadata, and it got studied. They were able to determine an awful lot from who calls whom from where at what time. And some of their wrong guesses would have been very unpleasant to bring into the open.

One such study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Evaluating the privacy properties of telephone metadata by Mayera, Mutchlera, and Mitchella of Stanford University. I find their efforts good but amateurish. "Amateurish" is a tease because I analyzed phone metadata professionally at the NSA. For example, their experiment deduced some blacked-out data because the subjects posted related information in Facebook. Way too easy. However, since this scientific study was conducted with volunteers, we cannot expect the subjects to have any serious secrets to be discovered. Thus, finding information that some people prefer to keep private is their closest indicator for measuring privacy properties.

The government's assertion that phone metadata does not violate privacy is a legal argument that bends the definition of the word "privacy." It comes from the 1979 Supreme Court ruling Smith v. Maryland about pen register tracking of phone call data. The Supreme Court said that since the caller voluntarily gave information to the phone company to make a phone call, then the caller had no expectation of privacy for that shared information and the government can look at that information without a search warrant. The court reasserted that claim in 2015 with Quartavious Davis v. United States.

I personally think that privacy should have more legal layers than just private and no-expectation-of-privacy. Fortunately, I could rely on foreign intelligence laws rather than the pen register ruling for authorization in my NSA work.

As for fearing false conclusions from metadata, my job was to prevent that through good statistical analysis of the chance of error. Not only did we not want to violate the privacy of innocent foreigners, but the intelligence analysts would stop using our techniques if the results gave too many false leads.

A.F. Rey said...

I just came across this article on Newton Knight, the Mississippian who lead a rebellion against the Confederacy from within Mississippi, as dramatized in the new movie "The Free State of Jones."

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-free-state-jones-180958111/?no-ist

He sounds like a man after your own heart (even if he was a bit ornery).

In October 1862, after the Confederate defeat at Corinth, Knight and many other Piney Woods men deserted from the Seventh Battalion of Mississippi Infantry... They were disgusted and angry about the recently passed “Twenty Negro Law,” which exempted one white male for every 20 slaves owned on a plantation, from serving in the Confederate Army. Jasper Collins echoed many non-slaveholders across the South when he said, “This law...makes it a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

locumranch said...



I guess it all comes down to your inherent assumptions:

David insists that evil doers (any criteria) must be "Allergic to Light" (and vulnerable to transparency) because he presumes Shame (external correction, humility, self-abnegation, possible forgiveness) & Guilt (internal correction, humility, restitution, possible forgiveness) to be effective modalities of social control, an interpretation supported by his CITROCATE argument.

Such Shame & Guilty based presumptions, however, (1) would have little effect & even less utility against the 'high trust/low transparency' Anglo "Swamp Yankee" type who presupposes innate Dignity, (2) could provoke justifiable rebellion among the 'high trust/high transparency' Southern "Feud Prone" Honour types, (3) may lead to self-abnegative dissociation by the Face Saving Asiatic Herbivore type and (3) could easily justify suicide-bombing to the 'low trust/low transparency' ME types who lack both face & the possibility of redemption in this life.

More & more, I become convinced that the Blue Urban mentality represents a False Dignity cultural hybrid which presumes Innate Dignity because assumed EQUALITY (blinding the practitioner to numerous meritorious differences) and the universal applicability of both Shame & Guilt (because CITROCATE) in order to allow the practitioner to exercise intolerance in the name of tolerance, use force to prevent the use of force & pursue freedoms by the elimination of freedoms.

Finally, note the disingenuity of LarryH's object-deficient quip about how "the willingness to provide transparency implies trust", "to whom?" being the missing object of this so-called implication. Designed to shame, this is an Orwellian statement which (1) suggests that one can only prove one's trustworthy innocence by a willing transparency & the forfeiture of one's constitutional rights and (2) asserts that the desire for one's constitutional protections & privacy is tantamount to an admission of criminal guilt:

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to accuse him of corruption.**


Best
______
**This is what you do when you keep accusing Men of being Misogynists, Red States of being 'Rebels' & Nationalists of being 'Nazis'. He he he. Can you say self-fulfilling prophecy? The 'Free State of Jones' film is coming soon.

David Brin said...

I truly find it amazing. He knows that he almost never reads my intentions correctly. He knows that he is absolutely crappy at interpreting the mental lives of others and that his every attempt is a laughably inaccurate strawman… yet he continues issuing stuff like this: “David insists that evil doers (any criteria) must be "Allergic to Light" (and vulnerable to transparency) because he presumes Shame …”

Um… I presume absolutely and spectacularly no… such… thing? Not remotely and not in any conceivable way? It is not the mental deficiencies that I find as fascinating as the amazing stubbornessof the metaphysical assertion that “I know what others think, better than they do and I will insist on it despite any denial or evidence!!!”

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Finally, note the disingenuity of LarryH's object-deficient quip about how "the willingness to provide transparency implies trust", "to whom?" being the missing object of this so-called implication.


Point taken. But then...


Designed to shame,


I'm not sure where that came from. What is "designed to shame?" Transparency? Or my statement?


this is an Orwellian statement which (1) suggests that one can only prove one's trustworthy innocence by a willing transparency & the forfeiture of one's constitutional rights


You're confusing necessary and sufficient conditions. Where does the "only" come from?


and (2) asserts that the desire for one's constitutional protections & privacy is tantamount to an admission of criminal guilt:


Where does this come from at all?

locumranch said...



If we know what people say; and, if we accept that people believe what they say; then, we assume to know what people believe.

(1) Repeatedly, David says CITROCATE: "Criticism [is] the only known antidote to error".
(2) We assume that he honestly believes this (else we assume him insincere, dishonest & disingenuous).
(3) If we know David says CITROCATE; and, if we assume that he believes what he says; then, we can assume to know that David believes CITROCATE.

But, what is the WHY of CITROCATE? Why is "Criticism [is] the only known antidote to error" ? And, why would anyone DESIRE an "antidote to error" ??

(4) Self-improvement (empowerment) is the Carrot; Error-induced Shame (humiliation) is the Stick.

And, assuming (1) (2) (3) (4), we conclude that CITROKATE is a Shame-driven thesis.


In response to LarryH, I plead the Fifth: "I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate myself", meaning that I prefer 'non-transparency' after (saying) (believing) expressing concern that any answer I give may incriminate me, implying that anything I might say may confirm my potential guilt, else I would I waive the Fifth, testify to my innocence & embrace transparency, the subtext of the former option (taking the Fifth) being my rejection of the Best World hypothesis & the subtext of the latter option (transparency) representing BJW acceptance.

Transparency is the Best Option assuming a 'Belief in a Just World': Believing otherwise, I recommend 'taking the Fifth'.


Best

David Brin said...

Oy it just goes on and on, like a movie train wreck. First it is CITOKATE.

Second... " why would anyone DESIRE an "antidote to error" ?"

Um... because... we want to SUCCEED? Most people would define error as something that prevents success... like the errors that lead to your untimely death. The errors in judgement that turn allies into enemies or that give your enemies an opening...errors in your design that will cause a plane to crash. Errors in storytelling that could reduce my book sales... and hence I thank 5o + people, every single book of mine, for the criticism that helped me find and eliminate most errors.

"Transparency is the Best Option assuming a 'Belief in a Just World'"

I give up. Some mental illnesses just get boring, after a while.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

In response to LarryH, I plead the Fifth: "I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate myself",


Is this the "logic" you are applying?

You learn more from failures than from successes.
Learning is good.
Therefore, one must strive to fail as often as possible.

Or, on the other hand...

You learn more from failures than from successes.
Successes are good.
Therefore, one must strive to learn as little as possible.

Either way, good luck with that.

Jumper said...

It's based on the lie. Just admit it, locumranch.

Jumper said...

http://induecourse.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/piti.pdf
The stuff we talk about here.

Alfred Differ said...

@Laurent Weppe: Our current definition of Justice isn’t that old. I’ll accept that part of it is, but not all of it. If we go by your description, the peasantry should have annihilated the aristocrats long ago. They didn’t because of customs regarding ‘what is due’ to those above us, below us, and to us. Our foraging ancestors had different customs that had to adapt to agriculture and horticulture. We changed them again in NW Europe somewhere around the 17th century. The British enviously copied the successes of the Dutch by internalizing a change to the meaning of Justice and then swapping out monarchs.

You need a lot more than troops for an aristocracy to exist. You need compliance from those who out-number you. The threat of slaughter was only part of it. Those peasants largely believed in the system… until they didn’t. Those townspeople largely believed in the system… until some of them prospered by rejecting it successfully. Oops. Wildfire for those paying attention to Prudence.

The point I’m making is that the very definition of our virtues changed. Once upon a time, the only aristocrat who was a cheater was one who didn’t conform to the traditional virtues. Courage in battle was required. Just behavior required them to expect their due from those of us below. Temperance required them to show mercy occasionally for those of us who didn’t. Faith required them to BE the aristocrats we expected them to be.

David advocates Accountability in a way that suggests it as a virtue. Our feudal ancestors would have found that quite alien unless it conformed to their concept of Justice. Our Justice isn’t the same as we are much more egalitarian. The Levellers won a point with history.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: I’m over in Burbank often enough to matter. The nearest IKEA is over there and I prefer to use that airport to LAX when I can. Also, I drive through your neck of the woods on my way to Vegas a couple times a year, so you are easily in range. 8)

I don’t drink much. It’s just that when I do, I don’t drink slop. My fellow Americans are terribly crude when it comes to what we tolerate. Bizarre considering how many flavors of ice cream we demand on the menu.

donzelion said...

@Locum- "Transparency is the Best Option assuming a 'Belief in a Just World': Believing otherwise, I recommend 'taking the Fifth'."

As a constitutional stickler, I have to point out that the portion of the 5th you're invoking can only protect you when you're accused of a crime. Obstinance, the only charge I know of that has been levied, is not (currently) a crime. ;-)

Still - if one believes in an unjust world, pleading the Fifth is probably an unwise choice. When the game's fixed, one might be better off mocking the rules in order to distract the oppressors - and plot an escape from an unfair 'game.' Even then, CITOKATE serves a purpose - rather than correcting the 'error' (of the oppressors), it subverts the oppression itself. Potentially, quite useful, esp. if one has nothing else to work with.

But mere disagreement is not oppression.

@Larry - "You learn more from failures than from successes.
Learning is good.
Therefore, one must strive to fail as often as possible."


A fine illustration of a four-part syllogism by equivocation. Of course, if one strives to fail, then one will doubtless "succeed" at failure - and therefore fail to learn anything. (My favorite example of this type of fallacy: "Nothing is better than wisdom." "A warm beer is better than nothing." Therefore, "a warm beer is better than wisdom.")

But is that really Locum's logic? CITOKATE, it seems to me, may (should?) include a 'shame' element, as Locum argues - if one persists in error after it is disclosed, then one who fights/flees/freezes/fawns to avoid a challenge should be "unveiled." Why isn't it appropriate to shame such?

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: The bourgeoisie assign dignity to a person if they behave in a way the class finds to be reasonably virtuous. It doesn’t really matter which virtue as long as there is a bit of balance between them all. Too much of one or not enough of another looks like vice to us, so do that for a while and we expect you to feel shame and/or guilt.

That not everyone agrees to the same definitions for virtues is a given. The domain for David’s accountability argument, though, is Enlightenment Culture which overlaps The West mostly. He’s pushing us to abandon a cowboy-style of individualism and privacy as being synonymous with courage and recognize that living in a world of cameras and microphones will require a different kind of courage. We already have egalitarianism built into our definition for Justice, so since Accountability rests on Courage and Justice, he is pointing at what has to change.

I have no doubt the Honor types will object. Tough cookies. The rest of us don’t want to be oppressed and are being shown how to avoid that future.

Alfred Differ said...

CITOKATE starts with an embarrassment element. Persistent error should lead to shame. Avoidance of shame's consequences should lead to guilt. All that can be avoided easily, though, by embracing embarrassment.

Lady Embarrassment is the second best teacher I ever had.

locumranch said...



I apologise for Dabrowski’s Research with Gifted Individuals; I apologise for concluding that David's CITROCATE is a shame-based thesis; and I apologise for pointing out the unpleasantly obvious:

(1) That Success, Accomplishment & Triumph are euphemisms for Shame Avoidance;
(2) That Accountability & Responsibility describe a state of Culpability & 'Shameworthiness'; and
(3) That Shame, defined as "a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of having done something improper, foolish, dishonourable (and) unworthy", is perhaps humanity's strongest motivator.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creative-synthesis/201501/shame-and-motivation-change

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ750762.pdf

I have learned that mere 'being' is shameful; I have sought acceptance through self-uplift, production, service & doing; I have achieved success as Western Culture defines success; and I have been thoroughly and consistently humbled by culture, upbringing, inclination, profession & gender.

I am Futurama's Günter made super intelligent by a shame-based Electronium Hat.


Best

Laurent Weppe said...

* "If we go by your description, the peasantry should have annihilated the aristocrats long ago. They didn’t because of customs regarding ‘what is due’ to those above us, below us, and to us"

Well, aristocrats are being periodically slaughtered. And more than custom, what protects them in-between uprisings is, first and foremost, Humanity's hardwired conflict aversion. Instinctively, we don't like to fight our own species: which is why the same pattern has happened throughout history: despots take over, people adjust themselves to the new bullies in charge, until their (or their heirs') incompetence and greed push their subjects on the verge of starvation, at which point anger at the abusers override conflict aversion and the fear of being on the receiving end of a sword, gun, missile... and uprisings begin anew.

David Brin said...

Sorry. CITOKATE is about penetrating humanity's greatest talent, self delusion. It is the only way that best-laid schemes get fixed, before wrecking everything. It is the way that the best theories are made better. It is the way we learn we have bad habits to break. It is the way that products improve and that civil servants learn they had better do their jobs.

Embarrassment is a crude and early response that more often gets in the WAY of learning from criticism. We are seeing it today in embarrassed republicans fleeing from admitting that everything has gone wrong with their movement for at least 20 years. Sure, the embarrassed will sometimes correct the error that led to the embarrassment. More often they will rationalize, get angry and double down.

It is those who learn the HABIT and the VALUE of criticism who benefit from it most.

David Brin said...

Did I say stubborn "doubling down"? Case in point: " I apologize for pointing out the unpleasantly obvious:
"

Obvious... on Bizarro planet. His sadness is saddening. But pity does not alter the fact that his diagnosis is wrong. There is a gigantic perceptual blind spot. It causes anger. Which stands in the way of learning to cope with the blind spot and working around it.

Jumper said...

http://induecourse.ca/the-tragically-overpriced/
A Dilbert cartoon reminds me of something.

Jumper said...

This, on the problem of the commons, is so rewarding. I'll repost the link, as my description of it before was terse. I'm impressed at its lucidity.
http://induecourse.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/piti.pdf

Jumper said...

http://nonsite.org/editorial/the-climate-movement-needs-to-get-radical-but-what-does-that-mean
Here's a devastating critique of a Naomi Klein book by someone who agrees with her. What to do on global warming, amid failures of the Left.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

http://induecourse.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/piti.pdf

I haven't read the whole article, but have skimmed enough to get the gist. Unfortunately, the dynamic described there explains a phenomenon we are seeing at this very time, that the news media sees Donald Trump as good for their business, even though an actual Trump presidency would be devastating to a free press. Metaphorically, they will eagerly sell Trump the rope he hangs them with.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

(3) That Shame, defined as "a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of having done something improper, foolish, dishonourable (and) unworthy", is perhaps humanity's strongest motivator.


You're placing the cart before the horse. The point of CITOKATE is to have people pre-emtively avoid the need for shame by
1) being careful to avoid error in the first place
2) noting and correcting such errors that get by step 1, and
3) shame only as a last resort for the stubborn

But then, CITOKATE is a methodology that presumes the person or entity receiving the (hopefully constructive) criticism wants to get things correct in the first place. If your point is that you're content with your errors, and you don't want any busybodies interfering with your right to your errors, then yes, I see your point.


I have learned that mere 'being' is shameful; I have sought acceptance through self-uplift, production, service & doing; I have achieved success as Western Culture defines success; and I have been thoroughly and consistently humbled by culture, upbringing, inclination, profession & gender.


You learned that the world only makes sense when you force it to.


I am Futurama's Günter made super intelligent by a shame-based Electronium Hat.


I wouldn't worry too much about what made you super intelligent.

:)

LarryHart said...

@Robert et al, some backing for my earlier assertion that Hillary does better among people who actually vote:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/


Polling of Tuesday's Democratic primary has been all over the map. Today we have a new poll that may explain some of the variance. Here are the results of the LA Times poll:
[ Hillary Clinton: 49% Bernie Sanders: 39% ]

The poll results hold for likely voters. When unlikely voters are added to the mix, Sanders leads 44% to 43%. This curious result suggests that if everyone voted, Sanders would win, but many of his supporters are unlikely to vote, which could lead to a convincing win by Clinton.

Jumper said...

To draw you a map, locumranch, I will urge you to read the two articles I referenced. The Naomi Klein one goes into the ineffectiveness of "shaming" by the Left which should interest you, and both articles discuss how the commons tends to deprive people of the chances to progress via positive-sum strategies, as they find access to such strategies not on their plates. They argue that collective action is the only real reason for government, if complete feudalism enforced by the whip is rejected.

Paul SB said...

I will try to be charitable here, and suggest that this comment:

"I have learned that mere 'being' is shameful"

is a consequence of growing up with middle American religion. It is "original sin" biting us in the butt and taking out a huge, soft, fleshy chunk that never grows back and bleeds intermittently. Bronze Age politics that has deeply scarred generations of psyches, whether they go to their graves "believers" or reject the logic in their adult lives. The memes burn deep into young neural circuitry. This isn't so much Planet Bizarro as some heat-shocked corner of Planet Faith.

The idea that we should be ashamed for merely existing is ludicrous. No one controls the circumstance son their birth, what combinations of A, T, G & Cs end up in the zygote from whence they sprang. The shame is not in 'being' but in being an asshole. Assholism is replete with self delusion, one of the most pernicious of these delusions being genetic determinism. "I'm this way because I was born this way!" and "They are that way because they were born that way." It's an easy excuse for racism, sexism, classism, and an easy way to excuse any moral lapse, bypassing the shame that might otherwise motivate people too foolish to learn from other people's mistakes to then learn from their own. "So my dad was an alcoholic, Mr. Judge, Sir. That's why I get hammered every Friday night. I didn't mean to run over that old lady with the baby. I was just born that way."

Jumper's cartoon reminds us, though, that self delusion loves company, and the internet provides a perfect forum for the pursuit of shared delusion.

Paul451 said...

From what I've seen, "shame" (or its denunciation) is a particular obsession with Locumranch's Incel/MGTOW cult. They believe that feminists use shaming to repress "natural" male behaviour, to feminise men, and hence take control. Thus Locumranch's projection of "shaming" onto David's sousveillance writing.

Paul SB said...

Laurent, your comments about hard-wired instincts are valuable, and this bit especially so (it's something anthropologists have been trying to get across for a long time.)

"it took agriculture, sedentarization, and the massive growth in human population we've known for the last few millennia: 4-5% of Homo-Sapiens time on Earth."

The one thing you have to be careful of, though, is overgeneralization. Obviously you are way above loci's level, claiming that somehow ALL men are treated as if they were misogynists, ALL rural people seen to be rebels and ALL patriots as fascists (conflating patriotism with nationalism). Obviously men who rant misogynistic screed are misogynists, red staters who spout millenarian nonsense are rebels, and patriots who can't tell the difference between constructive criticism and blatant propaganda are fascists.

The whole point of sexual reproduction is that it creates variability, so where you point out that humans have an inherent conflict aversion, this is a tendency, not a concrete rule. There are many who feel no such aversion, and have no problem slaughtering either peasants or rival claimants to the throne. The scum, as they say, rise to the top. There most certainly have been cases of elites being taken out by the masses, but more often than not fear keeps most down, while a few game the system to their advantage, ratting out those who would level the playing field by taking out the elites. Conflict aversion is what allows those who do not feel it to create deeply unjust and self-perpetuating social systems. Large sections of the human species have been bypassing that tendency through democratic government, but because that these instincts are both ancient and variable, you get a lot of the same phenomena in democracy, it just has to be expressed differently and justified with different propaganda memes. Thus our ever-changing definitions of justice.

Instinct has power, but then there's the issues of memes and frontal lobes.

Paul SB said...

Alfred, was the James Burke reference a suggestion for a reroute? Would frozen yogurt suffice? I always felt ice cream was a little heavy on my stomach. Right now in the Game of Schools, everyone is saying "Summer is Coming" with bated breath.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "Embarrassment is a crude and early response that more often gets in the WAY of learning from criticism."

Indeed, and on an individual level, the pain of shame is probably not helpful. One does not learn well by donning a dunce cap, nor by having rules pounded into ones hands by a ruler (or rather, one learns what pain feels like, a lesson that does not in itself help reasoning).

On a social level though, 'shame' ought to be a bit like chemotherapy disrupting a tumor - a painful (and destructive) tool of last resort to expel those who will spread error.

Today's Republicans come in two sorts: the principled ones (who will NOT embrace bigotry, racism, & demagoguery) - and the unprincipled ones (they may actually believe that racism and bigotry are anathema, but those are low priorities compared with winning in November - and hence, their principles are either nonexistent or easily shrugged aside). They are too politically correct to ostracize and shame the Trumpmuffin, so they focus their fury at other political correctness (how dare they prevent Mr. X from having a stage at University Y - bunch of tyrants!). They will not learn, and hence, wouldn't the rational course be ostracizing them - or leaving and joining those who will?

donzelion said...

@Alfred - "[Dr. Brin is] pushing us to abandon a cowboy-style of individualism and privacy as being synonymous with courage and recognize that living in a world of cameras and microphones will require a different kind of courage. We already have egalitarianism built into our definition for Justice, so since Accountability rests on Courage and Justice, he is pointing at what has to change."

Eloquently put, and enlightening to me, personally. Thanks for that, as it explains my own errors quite clearly.

Once upon a time, I tried to adopt a cowboy style of individualism. An odd contrarian sort of cowboy, mind you - rushing off to bring lux et lex to the oppressed - in the form of IT that 'should' have brought transparency and the downfall of tyrants and oligarchs - an enterprise that 'succeeded' but proved utterly futile. Now, I strive to create new concepts that better fit with this world, rather than romanticized variations thereon. A difficult effort.

Jumper said...

In the future all money will be cash in the form of credits in a chip embedded in one's body. Each credit will contain a piece of distributed programming that effectuates a surveillance system on the individual. The more money you have the more effective your surveillance is to the rest of the world. If you are poor the signal is so low it takes great effort to decrypt it and you have more privacy.

David Brin said...

onward

onward