[extropy-chat] Wearable Camera Etiquette

Samantha Atkins samantha at objectent.com
Thu Apr 15 07:52:28 UTC 2004

On Apr 12, 2004, at 10:19 AM, Hal Finney wrote:

> As technology makes it easier and more common for people to carry
> recording devices, society will need to adapt.  We need to decide 
> whether
> it is more convenient to limit the use of the devices, or to alter our
> handling of secret and private information to be less sensitive.

We are talking about, not far down the road, various forms of IA 
including sensory and memory augmentation.  It is a bit more than a 
matter of inconvenience if IA is limited by pre-IA laws and norms.

> On one hand we can try to limit the capture of data to mimic the
> way things have worked in the past.  Basically, people can remember
> everything they see, but only to a limited degree.  We could attempt
> to place limitations on assisted recording in situations where privacy
> is expected.  To enforce this we would require that there be some way 
> of
> knowing when someone is using a recording device.  Maybe the operator
> would have to display a flashing red light whenever it was in use.
> And any such device would have to be designed to support this 
> requirement.

What for?  What is gained by this that makes up for the lost human 
potentials that will be illegal to explore and use?

> The problem is that cheating will be hard to detect, if someone has
> disabled his light, for example.  If he's just recording the data for
> his own personal benefit then no one may ever know.  I think this 
> general
> approach is going to be problematic for this reason.

This is the least of the problems.

> Another approach is to allow capture of data but to try to crack down 
> on
> sharing it.  You can take pictures for your own personal use, but you
> can't give copies of sensitive data to other people.  This has some of
> the same problems but it is perhaps a little easier to enforce, since
> the data sharing is by its nature somewhat public.  OTOH with 
> cypherpunk
> technologies people will be able to share data anonymously.  So this 
> idea
> has problems as well.

What for?  How can we form group minds if we can't fully share?

> A third idea is to try to adapt society to accept that people can 
> record
> and share what they see.  This takes us into the grounds of David 
> Brin's
> "transparent society".  He sees this as somewhat inevitable and tries
> to present it as a positive change.  In fact, much of what is done in
> secrecy is harmful and would be better if exposed to the light of 
> public
> observation.  But at the same time, society does rely on privacy for
> good purposes as well, and it will be expensive and probably socially
> unacceptable to change over to systems that can survive omnipresent
> public recording.

I don't think full transparency is necessitated by being able to record 
and share everything we experience.  Full transparency goes beyond that 
to guarantee their are always sensors around to view your every act 
regardless of whether any persons, however equipped, are present.  It 
also requires foregoing encryption which is also beyond full ability to 
record and share.

> I don't think that simplistic analogies can guide us here.  Omnipresent
> recording devices are not just like having a good memory, and they are
> not just like a tourist with a camera.  They are something new, and
> they will require new responses.  I think we will need a combination
> of ideas from all the categories above: some restrictions on recording
> (progressively more difficult to enforce as the cameras become smaller
> and more integrated); some restrictions on sharing (depending on what
> direction society goes for allowing anonymous data exchange); and some
> adaptation to the presence of cameras (where it is not too expensive
> and inconvenient).

Most of the categories above have nothing to do with an extropic stand 
on the matter as far as I can see.  They are various wafflings to 
restrict future technology and its deployment to pander to current 
limited thinking and possibilities.  I don't think that is what extropy 
is about.

> Over time we will probably have to adapt more and more, because of the
> difficulties of enforcing restrictions, but this can be done gradually
> as the cameras slowly proliferate and people get accustomed to their
> presence.

The difficulty of enforcing restrictions is not why we adapt.  We adapt 
because it is extropic and opens up our possibilities.  To say we adapt 
because of an enforcement problem is to almost welcome more draconian 
technological enforcement practices.  This takes us further away from 
where we want to be.   If we don't understand how to take a stand for 
extropy in such matters how can we expect to see it come to pass?

- s

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