Note — Dec 16, 2018

We Can’t Own Information

Seen in → No.61

Source →

David Brin argues that it’s impossible to prevent our surveilling and the collecting of our data, that instead of looking for “darkness” we should focus on obtaining sousveillance and control. According to him, as in other parts of society, trying to hide things prevents them from thriving. Interesting to contrast with a number of the recommendations from the AI Now Institute (see first piece in the Tech section) which does believe in blocking this collection of data, and to read the piece right after, at the NYT on location apps that are sharing opaquely collected data about our every movement.

In The Transparent Society I point out that all our great, positive-sum “arenas” - like markets, democracy, science and justice - thrive amid openness and light, but wither when shadows prevail. […]

What gave us this window of freedom was not preventing surveillance, but insisting on sousveillance… looking back at power. Stripping the mighty naked, so we can supervise. Because it matters much less what they can know about you than what they can do to you! […]

It is the “control” part that can still be prevented, via the method we used with increasing effectiveness for 200 years — answering surveillance with sousveillance.