Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Transparent Society: v 0.1

In The Transparent Society, David Brin argued that developments in surveillance technology were leading us to a world where everything you did would be observed, recordable, and searchable. That outcome could not, in his view, be prevented. The best we could hope for was transparency in both directions, a world where the cops can watch us but we can also watch them.

Early evidence that he might be right appeared in incidents where police officers made the mistake of misbehaving when someone had a video camera—more recently a cell phone—pointed at them. Thinking about the WikiLeaks case, it occurred to me that it was a further development in the same direction. The origin of the information was a conventional leak, not high tech surveillance. But it is modern technology that makes it virtually impossible for the governments affected to prevent widespread public distribution of the leaked information.

In that sense, what we are seeing is an early stage of the transparent society.


David Brin's web site

The chapter on surveillance technology in my Future Imperfect.


Unknown said...

Was just getting ready to order this book after I heard about it from Marginal Revolution. I disagree with the conclusion the article draws on crypto-anarchy, but I think maybe I'll get a better impression of the book itself from your second opinion. Thanks David!

Anonymous said...

In at least some states you can go to jail for taking video of a cop. And I do not see it changing. Because we dont want terrorists to take videos of cops, do we? Transparent society is like anarchy (or Communism if you prefer) - nice when some harmless clowns dream about it, either impossible or nightmare in implementation.

James said...

Didn't Manning take a ridiculous amount of files out of the building on a USB thumb drive? Even the act of the leak itself was facilitated by modern technology.

Anonymous said...

Your point still stands but it was a rewritable CD (CD-RW) with music on he took in and simply overwrote the music with the government data.