Privacy and Secrecy
These two concepts are presented as being synonymous in popular discussion. A "You can't have one without the other." kind of thing.
This concerns me greatly.
I could write at great length about the threat secrecy poses to human culture, and have before, but that's not what I'm going to do right now.
I've had conversations in the past where I claimed people never had privacy in the first place, that between the government and the schools and the banks and credit card companies and whatnot, their movements and activities have been monitored since the day they were born.
But this was never precisely right. Because privacy doesn't require secrecy. That is what I want to talk about.
First, a couple of illustrations:
When you go to the bathroom, it's not a secret what you're going in there for. We know you're going in there to release waste. You know that we know. But we would generally agree that this gives you privacy.
When you live with roommates, and you take your special someone to your room and hang a tie on the door, we know what you're in there for. You know that we know. But you still feel a sense of privacy, and you still do what you went in there to do.
So. What makes these situations private, when they're not even vaguely secret?
The lack of a requirement to interact.
It's a matter of social decorum. Good manners.
At the end of the day, I don't really care that you know I took a dump. What I care about is that I don't have to carry on a conversation about it. I don't even want to have the "conversation of the eyes". I want to forget, for a moment, that you exist.
I don't think I'm exceptional in this regard.
So, clearly, you can have privacy without secrecy.
Let's examine something a little more pervasive.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years, you're probably familiar with the "Reality TV" concept.
These people are living in a fishbowl. They have no secrets, and they know it.
But you can clearly see that, despite this, they will seek out a space where they are physically alone so they can have some privacy. And you can clearly see them relax, because their need for privacy has been fulfilled.
Why? There are likely more people observing them that ever before... how can they possibly feel like they have privacy?
The answer is, they don't need to react to you. They don't need to respond to things you say. That automatic reflex we have to decipher what your eyes are saying never kicks in. That is what they really crave.
So. One more illustration. Not even anecdotal. Could not tell you when or where I heard this, but here goes:
The story is, there is an Asian culture where everyone is packed in so tightly, and their building construction affords them no secrecy because their walls are so thin that a man walking past your house can see and hear right through your rice paper walls.
Nevertheless, these people successfully find the privacy they need. Because they do not react to things that are none of their business. They know their place.
There is a lesson here for us.
We are grappling with a real problem in our civilization. We have forged tools with the power to extend our senses further than our great grandparents could have ever dreamed. But we have not yet demonstrated the maturity to handle it.
The result of this is that there is a small class of people who have access to vast amounts of information about everyone, and a large class of people who have very little access and what access they have has been carefully chosen to control their opinions.
The small class of people and the large class of people are both fighting to preserve this state of affairs. The large class are defending the "right to secrecy" because they feel they are fighting to protect their privacy from their ill mannered fellows. The small class are defending the right to secrecy because they have an unfair advantage over their fellows and they wish to preserve that state of affairs.
Simultaneously, you have people who are fighting for "transparency", because they recognize the unfair advantage that is held by a group that seeks to control them, and they wish that unfair advantage erased.
In this way, we are turned against ourselves by those who would rule us.
I've argued this point exhaustively in online forums under my standard pseudonym, and have been jeered at, and invited to publish my real name, address and banking information.
This is what we're up against. I've got skeletons in my closet, same as everyone. I'm flawed, but I'm confident I'm no more flawed than any of you. If the veils of secrecy came crashing down for one and all, I'm confident that it would be impossible for anyone to attack my character and reputation without being seen for a gross hypocrite.
But, to go first is to allow hypocrites to destroy you, and to fail in your attempt to address the problem.
It's a difficult problem. I'm not sure how to get from where we are to where I believe we need to be. I see it as a real possibility that we will destroy our own potential to grow beyond the limitations of our fragile flesh rather than develop the maturity to cope with this situation.
However, I think that creating a sense of the distinction between privacy and secrecy is an essential step towards having a dialog that will lead us there.
Thank you for reading.
A new democratic model
This is a work in progress, which I will continue to expand upon. I feel it is important to share it in it's unfinished, because I am frequently misunderstood when I attempt to communicate my ideas in conversation, and am attacked by people based on a false understanding of what I propose. This is intended to be a tool which I deliver as a gift to mankind, to use or ignore as they see fit, and not something I impose upon anyone.
Any person who wishes to participate in the running of society has the right to do so. They operate in the fashion that suits them best in each sector, and they do as they will with their spare time. They have the right to vote in the operation of the society they participate in and have their vote counted.
Some people cannot choose to actively participate in society. Children who are too immature to be safe, invalids who are unable because they are in too much pain, those too elderly to function properly.
People need to be involved to have the right to make decisions. If they are not involved, their vote should not count. To allow their vote to count is to those who are ignorant to rule. When one man knows, and another does not, the second should bow his head, and the first should take responsibility.
However, people who are not involved should still have the right to cast votes, propose changes to the system and express themselves just as any other. Wisdom can come from those who are young, elderly and infirm, and it is important that we respect that fact. We can all remember bearing witness to hidebound foolishness amongst our elders at some point in our youth, and those of us who are not yet elderly and infirm can rest assured that we most likely will be.
Those who are not involved and cast votes should not have their vote counted towards a decision, however, those who are involved are free to assign their vote to them, and those votes will count. Thus, a wise elder or visionary invalid who cannot participate through deeds may still be the voice of those who do participate through deeds, for as long as they believe his leadership is wise.
Children should be treated as a special case.
It is important that children continue to be born and that the system should treat them as future citizens of vital importance to us all and not the same as mature or invalid dependents who are cared for out of compassion.
Therefore, parents should be considered to have an additional vote that represents their child, for so long as they continue to nurture to them.
Children should still continue to be able to cast a vote for themselves when they are mature enough to understand what that means, participate in the process and develop their voice, and if mature adults choose to appoint a child as their representative, those votes should be assigned according to the choices of the child and not automatically be passed along to the childs parent.
All data and information should be available to everyone in principle, and it shall be an ongoing goal of society to see that all measures available to make it accessible in practice are implemented. Transparency of information shall never be compromised in support of other concerns, because it is essential to the sane and wise operation of a democratic society.
Where secrecy exists, the act of participating in democracy is itself insane and unwise. It is through exploitation of this truth that those with arcane knowledge make themselves parasites of the ignorant, leading to weakness and suffering of those kept ignorant, the inevitable execution of the parasitic ruler, and often the destruction of the entire human culture.
Preventing this situation from arising is the responsibility of all humanity.
The Watchers - A sensor network, intended to gather data and allow all people to be aware of the environment to the maximum practical degree
The Testaments - Personal mesh networked voting devices with record keeping and personal sensors, intended to allow a person to demonstrate their votes to their peers, review the ongoing operations of the culture and propose changes to the way things are run.
The Witnesses - Stationary mesh networked recording devices, intended to decentralize vote archives and create enough forensic evidence to make wide scale vote tampering impossible
The Web - Wired network, intended to act in a supporting role to the Watchers, Testaments and Witnesses where it is advantageous to use Artifacts of Mankind to analyze data and discover patterns.
This presupposes that the infrastructure for the new model for representative democracy has been designed and distributed and the vast majority agree in principle with its use.
I started writing this proposal with the idea of applying it strictly to legal systems, but realized that it really should govern all common systems, which would include all large scale infrastructure and commonly used systems for governing human affairs. This is a statement with far reaching implication and is going to have to be expanded upon significantly for it to make sense.
We should create a catalogue of laws and systems, together with the justification for those laws and systems, an articulation of the sacrifice they represent, and an articulation of any conditions which would justify their being revoked.
The population should have x number of days to create a catalogue of the laws and systems which exist, together with the justification for those laws and systems continued existance.
The population should vote to determine if the closing period for contributions to the catalogue should be extended.
Any laws and systems which are not indexed after the closing period will be judged to be unsupported by anyone and therefore eliminated (there being no reason why they cannot be re-introduced at the end of the migration process)
The laws and systems should be indexed in terms of those which are justified by core values and those which are justified because of how they affect other laws and systems, and a map created that articulates these justifications.
The laws and systems sould then be considered in terms of the relevance of their stated purpose, how well they fulfil their stated purpose, and a consideration of how and if the current conditions are right for them to exist. The population should vote to keep them or remove them on this basis.
At the conclusion of this process, there should be no laws and systems which do not have justification, common support, and some thought put to the time when they might cease to be sane and wise.
3) Ongoing Operation
Any person may:
a) Propose a new law or system with novel justification
b) Propose that a new contraindication be ratified for an existing system
When the conditions of our culture are x, this rule will cease to be wise.
c) Propose that a new sacrifice be ratified for an existing system
This rule causes hardship in x way, and that hardship should be acknowledged.
d) Propose that the conditions for revoking an existing system have been met
This contraindication was set down long ago when this rule was made, and I propose that it now applies
e) Propose a new law or system to supersede an existing system by meeting it's justification with:
- less sacrifice (demonstratable justification)
We can meet need x with this different system, and hardship x which the previous system demanded
would cease to be necessary
- less contraindications (deductive justification)
Existing system x will become a poor and unwise tool when condition x occurs, and this new system will meet
the need without the risk of becoming defunct under condition x.
A system will have to be agreed upon to determine at what point a proposal must be put to a vote. Possibilities might be that a certain critical number of people must "second" the proposal, or perhaps a critical percentage of the population.
The Soap Bubble
I'm going to use the term God. If you find yourself dragging your religious preconceptions into this as a consequence of this label, feel free to substitute the word "Reality" where you see the word "God". I do this because, to my mind, they are describing the same thing using different technical languages that come from different knowledge systems, and I hope to provoke others to look at them the same way.
The universe can be understood in terms of the complexity of the arrangement of God's substance.
The singularity is the ultimate victory of Gravity and Entropy
The big bang is the ultimate failure of Gravity and Entropy
The creation of this universe is the eruption of the substance of God into an increasingly complex pattern. The limits of this complexity are imposed by, gravity, entropy and the amount of God. These limits will cause the complexity of the pattern to peak, and the complexity will degenerate back into simplicity, which will be pulled back into a singular state.
These perspectives as I've articulated them are written from the observing position of a living creature within the multiverse and bound by time.
From the position of an imagined observer outside of God, and thus outside of time, this would look very different.
To model this in your mind, it may be helpful to imagine the universe as a soap bubble being blown from a wand. The force of the big bang is like the air being blown at the soap film.
As this force causes the soap film to erupt out of a two dimensional plane into a three dimensional sphere, there are other forces at work that keep the soap film from simply disintegrating.
By acting in opposition to this "creative wind", these forces maintain the coherency of the soap film, allowing it to be a bubble with a beautiful complex pattern rather than simply dust.
However, from a perspective inside the soap film, these forces would look like the forces of entropy and gravity look to us. They drag us back towards the simplicity of death, just as the surface tension in the soap film drags the film back towards the state of being a plane.
This model makes an interesting segue into contemplation of the contrast between the infinite model of the universe and the finite model of the universe.
I believe the evidence does not support the perspective that we live in an infinitely expanding universe, because such a model would look like the soap film being blown into dust by the creative wind rather than assembling itself into the complex patterns that we see around us.
Some other interesting things to consider when looking at this model from the perspective of the outside observer watching the soap bubble of our universe being blown:
Does the ending of the creative wind cause the soap bubble to fall back into a simple plane, and have all it's complexity vanish as though it never was?
Does the creative wind cause the soap bubble to resolve into a sphere and blow off the wand?
Does the soap bubble resolve into a sphere but remain stuck to the wand?
If the observer sees the soap bubble fall back into a simple plane, that would imply that time resides outside the universe. This isn't really consistent with what we've observed about relativity.
If the creative wind causes the soap bubble to resolve into a sphere and blow off the wand, that would imply that the universe either is in the process of being created by some sort of God and cast away, or it already has been. This also implies that time resides outside the universe.
The model in which the soap bubble resolves into a sphere but remains stuck on the wand is the model that is consistent with relativity. It is the model in which the definition of time is permitted to remain relative to this universe.
In this model, the imaginary observer outside of the universe does not see any dynamic action in time because, residing outside the universe, there is no capacity to relate, and thus, they see the soap bubble in its entirety, at all of its "times".
Following this line of reasoning, the universe in its complex state and the universe in its simple state is something that can only be expressed in terms of time,
How can I verify this?
Not the right question
How might I make this a more useful predictive tool to govern behavior than others who have espoused similar views before me and failed to do so?
I might use the model to imply useful and previously unrecognized boundaries between what is local and what is global in scope in terms of the "laws of nature" and thus find new "patterns of reality" by implication or learn how to break "laws of nature" that were previously considered inviolate by moving beyond the scope of their pattern.
I might use the model to help people recognize the difference between knowledge systems derived from experimentation and knowledge systems derived from deduction, allowing people to abandon the false assurance of faulty tools and work towards reconciling the conflict between science and religion.
I wonder if Paul Davies would consider this to be #3 or #5?
I draw comfort from the fact that I am not really a 3 dimensional object transforming and translating. I am actually a 4 dimensional object experiencing becoming. I have a boundary on the top of my head, and on the soles of my feet. I have a boundary at the surface of my chest, and at the surface of my back. I have a boundary on my left side, and on my right. And, finally, I have a boundary at my birth and at my death. I will never cease, but will exist forever within these 4 axis. At the time of my death, I will finally consciously know myself in my entirety. I consider that something to look forward to.
The nature of knowledge and truth
There is no truth, and there is no knowledge.
All the things we know are things which we have decided, and we have decided them from a position of gross ignorance.
There was a time when we knew of the great and terrible fire god in the sky.
It was wise that we knew of him thus. To know of him thus was to understand that our lives sprung from him, that without his presence we would die. It was to understand his terrible power and be wary of it, lest he burn you to death. It was to understand that there was a pattern to his actions, and that we could build patterns among ourselves that were supported by the resolute and predictable nature of his actions. We could create time and history where once there was only timeless story and myth and the endless now.
This was not the truth. It was an arbitrary decision that we believe this, and that decision withstood the test of time because it was useful to view things in this fashion. It was a viewpoint that let you do things that you couldn't do before. Those savages who didn't believe were defeated by the weaknesses of their perspective.
There was a time when we knew that the earth was a round globe that the sun revolved around.
It was wise that we knew the sun thus. We spent so long worrying about offending that thing, ascribing motives to it that didn't exist, being blinded to the inconsistencies of our view.
Now we could predict its motion around the earth as we travelled its survace. We could do all sorts of useful things with this knowledge that we couldn't do before. Those who didn't believe as we did were defeated by the weaknesses of their perspective. Those who believed as we believed thrived and multiplied. This was knowledge.
Except that it was an arbitrary truth. It wasn't true. But it was useful. So it was good. This was knowledge.
Now we know that the earth revolves around the sun, and so do the rest of the planets. This is a useful perspective. It has empowered us.
The truth is, we see glimpses of the nature of the universe. We make a bunch of things up, and the more useful those made up things prove to be in helping us continue to exist, the more you see them among us as knowledge and truth.
Now, we have scientists contemplating the microscale of the universe, the macroscale of the universe.
Can you consider the effects your actions when you get up in the morning on the microscale? Or how what's happening on the microscale at the moment should influence what it's wise to do? What it's good or evil to do?
Could you consider how what's happening on the macroscale relates to the morality of your existance and your actions?
You can't consider these things.
You're floating along with a whole bunch of made up rules that are there because they're empowering. Inevitably, the falseness of them will come along to bite you on the ass as you struggle to make some sense of the universe with these crude tools that are our truths and perspectives and knowledge.
At the end of the day, you must not get too caught up in defending the truths of things.
You must look around you.
Look at what truths you see bandied about, and try to understand what the purpose of those truths is.
Understand that none of this is really the truth, but every bit of it has some utility that is the reason for its existance.
Try to understand what that utility is.
This will help you deal with the ugliness in the world.
Every ugly evil thing you see has a reason why it is there, that is why its evil ugliness is tolerated.
It serves a moral purpose. It allows us to be.
Reconcile with it. Understand that it has an inherent goodness that is larger than the ugliness of what you can see.
Then look for a new truth that can serve the moral purpose of the ugly one you have reconciled yourself with.
It is in this way that you will find your truth.
It will be a truth that you have chosen. It will not be an inherently true truth, but it will be a useful truth.
It is up to you what you do with the truth you have chosen.
But for it to be a good and moral truth, it must ultimately serve the purpose of continuing to allow us to be.
If it does not serve that purpose, it will ultimately destroy those who choose it as the truth, and thus destroy itself.
What are your truths doing?
In the beginning, language is spoken.
It is communicated from one person to another with the accompaniment of cues like body language, pitch and intonation, even pheromones communicating fear or excitement. It is intended to be used together with these cues.
And so it is for many years.
Then written language is created.
Written language is tough, because you have to deal with the fact that language is meant to be accompanied by many cues which you no longer have at your disposal.
It's also tough to be precise, because the language is very flexible and meant to be suitable for a great many other expressive pursuits whose needs are contrary to the goal of precision.
Writing is intended to be done once and distributed to an audience to stand as it is written, and so it is treated as an art. A writer is expected to put effort into making it just right before releasing it.
And so it is for many years.
Writing is used to codify laws.
Societies get more complex, the limitations of the common language are met, and new languages are created with new syntax, based around old ones.
Legal language is created to express such things as rules and contracts.
We are all systematically bound by what is expressed in these languages, and irrespective of our personal opinions or even our ignorance, we materially put our support behind these expressions by our participation.
Most people don't understand this language, and its meanings are often unintuitive and convoluted. Unless you have access to great wealth, you can't even learn it.
If you do have access to great wealth, you can hire teams of experts who have dedicated their lives to exploiting the convolutions of this language.
And so it is for many years.
Technologies arrive that allow the written word to be communicated broadly with great speed and great ease.
Speed enough that it can be used for a casual conversation.
Ease enough that you can casually reach a world audience during any 5 minute break in your schedule.
Language starts to break down.
Emails and instant messages are misunderstood more often than not.
People attempt to inform themselves, and they encounter linguistic constructs that exist for the higher purpose of eliciting emotional responses when used by artists.
They are manipulated and misled with misdirection and emotive imagery.
People are unable to concisely specify their agreements with their fellows without the assistance of a professional, but they are bound by them in ways they do not understand.
They are unable to understand the agreements that they make with commercial interests, but they are bound by them in ways they do not understand. These agreements are crafted by teams of people who dedicate their lives to being skilled in exploit your lack of understanding to their advantage.
Most people are unable to walk into a courthouse and express for themselves why they should not be punished.
If the attention of the system is ever placed upon them, their fate lies in their capacity to find someone who understands the language and rules of the law well enough to compete on their behalf.
It leads a person to think... shouldn't the language we use to make our agreements and our laws be straightforward enough that everyone can learn and understand it?
Shouldn't we insist that it not only be understandable, but understandable in a timely enough fashion to make all our decisions from an informed position?
Shouldn't every single human being on earth be capable of communicating with precision?
How would you do it?
My mind drifts to the book 1984.
Language is stripped down, shorn of the capacity to communicate things which disadvantage the state. Extraneous words are discarded. A standard is made, everyone is taught and kept up to date, and it is impossible to communicate outside of a very rigid framework.
It is put forth as a nightmare vision. The ultimate control of the population by the state.
But what if everyone was bilingual?
What if there was one language that was very precise, and it was engineered to be easy to understand.
Imagine if it was utterly devoid of the sorts of communications that could elicit emotional responses in people and make them choose something because the language made them feel good.
Now, if that was the only language that you knew, it would be very easy to organize with precision, but there would be no room for creativity, or expressions about the human experience, or creating things that were appealing to the primitive side of what we as humans are.
So you'd need a second language. One that was rich with multiple interconnected meanings, flexible, emotive, organic. A romantic language.
Two modes of communication, understood by all, with a social structure that indicated by decorum which mode should be used for which purpose.
This would still allow for that decorum to be broken when important things that fall outside the realm of tradition need to be said.
This would mean we could get rid of both lawyers and advertising.
We would have a civilization where every one of us understands what is going on well enough to participate, well enough to put transparency to purpose when we demand it, well enough not to be bamboozled and swindled anymore.
If you were going to pursue it as an agenda, you might choose something like English, which has strong representation as the language of business, then have an engineering team skilled in information theory create a suitable subset of the language, and go about the developing world educating people in that subset of it, allowing them to be advantaged by participating in world business.
Then choose a romantic language well represented in the developing world, Spanish perhaps, and take the two pronged approach of providing easy access to education in the romantic language to children in the English speaking world, while investing heavily in the creation of cultural works in that language. These children would end up thinking of English as the language for serious things and Spanish as the language for creativity and expressions of feeling and passion.
Inside of a couple of generations of spreading bilingualism in this fashion, such a structure could be realized across the globe.
Peoples cultural languages would end up being folded into the Romantic language over time, making it an increasingly rich means of expression and preserving history.
Malicia is the art of a slave.
That is to say, it was evolved in Brazil by African slaves, preserved in the art of Capoeira, and roughly translates as "deceptive tricks".
It is the art of appearing weak when you are strong, as practiced and evolved by those who are helpless to prevent their own death at an enemies whim.
Cringing as though afraid, standing on ones face as though awkwardly fallen, feigning injuries, these are all tactics practiced by master Capoeiristas.
These become even more apparent when you watch the Angola mestres.
It is an interesting look through the eyes of an oppressed people.
How to Rule
To rule is to create a system. A system is by nature inflexible. Any flexibility it exhibits should be of a preconcieved nature, because the value of a system is in its reliability.
It must suit its participants. The less it suits its participants, the more enforcement cost will be imposed upon the system, and the less effective it will be.
It should be minimal in scope. A system should exist to protect specific needs in a reliable fashion.
In an ideal system, any person should be able to fill any role, and every person should be exposed to each of them.
Adhering to such ideals in designing systems ensures that every person understands intimately how the needs of their life are met, and cannot argue for change or discontinuation from a position of ignorance.
It also ensures that the needs that the system are fulfilling are met in a resilient fashion.
The system should not be able to lose coherency because of the loss of any person. People are too dynamic and transient in their nature to be depended upon as individuals within a design.
No person should have such heavy responsibilities laid upon them as would be imposed if it were designed otherwise.
No reasonable person should live in a system where their needs rely on the continuing competency and goodwill of an individual without making efforts to escape that situation.
How to Lead
The trick to leading is to use people well.
If you can use people well, they will love you for it. If you can make people believe that you will use them better than they will use themselves, they will give themselves to you.
To use people well, you must understand and know them. If you cannot know them, you cannot use them in a subtle fashion.
To use people well, you must love them. If you cannot love them, you will use them frivolously, rudely and in a fashion that does not respect them.
You must understand them, tax them without asking more than they can give, make them feel that their efforts further their own personal goals and will benefit other people at the same time.
If you ask more of a person than they can give, they will fail, and what they could have achieved will be wasted. They will develop habits and practices that lead to failure, and they will be shamed. If they do not escape you, they will be ruined by what you have done to them.
You must never ask people to do what they cannot do.
If you ask less of a person than they can give, their potential will be wasted. They will not grow, but will instead be stunted and destroyed. If they do not escape you, they will be ruined by what you have done to them.
You must always find a way to exploit what a person has to offer.
Lead in this way and you will be beloved, and all mankind will lift you on their shoulders.