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Scott Adams Says Plenty Would Choose Life In Noprivacyville 467

LoLobey writes "On the other end of the spectrum from Richard Stallman, Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) speculates upon the advantages of living in a town with no privacy whatsoever. Everyone gets chipped and tracked online. 'Although you would never live in a city without privacy, I think that if one could save 30% on basic living expenses, and live in a relatively crime-free area, plenty of volunteers would come forward.'"
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Scott Adams Says Plenty Would Choose Life In Noprivacyville

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  • First Invent AI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @08:15AM (#35502188)

    Excluding all the other numerous technical issues here, we’d probably need some kind of artificial intelligence, or something close to it first before something like this could even potentially work.

    A lot of these ideas involve making intelligent decisions about people based on large amounts of data. The kind of decisions and data sources that would be hard to algorithm-ize.

    The current reality is that on an individual level, no one is going to spend 5 days reading reports about you so they can sell you a better toothbrush. Marketers work in the aggregate using a set of data points. Simply put, we’re for the most part not worth the individual trouble. Unless you can train a machine to do it, I don't see it happening at this level.

  • by Silentknyght ( 1042778 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @08:28AM (#35502282)

    I don't think this is all that outlandish. It's about equality, and in some senses, openness. If everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was tracked, chipped, monitored, followed, & watched AND the information was 100% transparent and available to EVERYONE, then well... sure, it'd be a great place to live. In all your 1984 dystopian scenarios, there's an elite segment that isn't subject to the same rules as the masses---arguably, there exists an elite segment in today's society that isn't subject to the same rules as the masses---and it's also a "who watches the watchers" issue. IMHO, alot of the issues that currently exist stem from a lack of (perceived and real) fairness in multiple aspects of life. Even the playing field and make the surveillance universal & transparent, allow everyone to freely monitor everyone else, and I think it would result in a shockingly fair society.

    Of course, in theory. I don't know if it could be implemented in practice, and therein lies the rub.

  • If there were full transparency everywhere -- in government, in corporations, of rich aristocrats, etc -- that might work.

    But the reality is that the powerful people and organizations protect their own privacy, and use their knowledge advantage that as leverage against those who choose transparency for themselves.

    who said "in an information age, if you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything at all"

  • by mcelrath ( 8027 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @08:31AM (#35502316) Homepage

    The obvious flaw in such a plan is: who watches the watchers? History has proven time and again that when people are given the power of controlling such information, they will use it to their own gain, and my detriment, eventually. For instance: stalkers, political candidate harassment, election tampering, home invasion/robber informants, etc.

    It's not that I think I should hide my activities, it's that I do not believe there is anyone uncorruptible, who could be trusted with the information.

    Yeah, people would go for the 30% discount, because people refuse to learn the lessons of history, and generally, are stupid sheeple.

  • by killmenow ( 184444 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @08:42AM (#35502458)
    This is precisely what I was thinking. I wouldn't mind having no privacy so much if the people who had control and power also had no privacy. If every government official, every corporate executive and every law enforcement officer had 100% of everything they do and say tracked, monitored, and freely accessible to every person in the country.

    No more secrets, Marty..
  • Though experiment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@gmail ... minus physicist> on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @08:49AM (#35502538)

    It's an interesting thought experiment, but it's not just a city without privacy, it's a scifi city without privacy. He explicitly says that he imagines a place where all he describes is technically possible; and much of it isn't and won't be in the forseeable future. And as far as science fiction goes, it's not that exciting a text.

    He's also trying very hard -- comically so -- to imagine every consequence as being positive: "Advertisements would transform from a pervasive nuisance into something more like useful information." Sure, Scott. And while total surveillance would result in an increase in solved criminal cases which would probably reduce some kinds of crime, others would still exist: many instances of violent crime are committed in the heat of the moment, others are the result of negligence. Neither would be affected by total surveillance, although I'm sure you could come up with some scifi handwaving argument, like saying that the tendency to assault somebody can be determined from genetic traits and previous surveillance like observed shouting or threatening behaviour. And so on...

  • TFA says that you can save up to 30% on your car insurance because of reduced vandalism. Then it goes on to speculate about how people would be willing to give up privacy for a cost saving of 30% in their cost of living.

    With that sort of logic fail, we can safely conclude that Scott Adams has been killed and replaced by a PHB cloned to look like him.

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @09:10AM (#35502770)

    Is anyone really stupid enough to believe that the rule making process would be non political and unbiased?

    In a word...Yes
    In fact I suspect there are quite a few.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @09:40AM (#35503122)
    It is a false equivalence. There is no privacy in prisons, yet crime is rampant.
  • Re:Zero Crime (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @09:51AM (#35503240) Homepage Journal

    If total transparency is in play all crime stops dead in its tracks.

    Wishful thinking. People will still do stupid things even if they know they're going to get caught.

  • by Thoguth ( 203384 ) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @10:21AM (#35503572) Homepage

    Have you looked at politics any time in the past half-century? In established democracies, freedom is considered dangerous, and most regulations are established with a clear goal of limiting freedom in the name of safety, conformity, or reduced liability.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @12:47PM (#35505418)

    To bring up the stereotypical example: males may not care about tampons, but advertisers still want them to see tampon ads, because sooner or later that guy is going to have to buy tampons (e.g. his wife asks him to pick some up on the way home) and the company wants the guy's default, uninformed choice to be driven not by careful research but by advertising and brand loyalty.

    You've never had a girlfriend, have you? Try coming back from the store with whichever tampons tickle your fancy and see how long that flies.

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