Arrow of time
Arrow of time

People will be people

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I am frequently amused by all the recent happenings around Snowden and the revelations of privacy breaches by various governments …

I am frequently amused by all the recent happenings around Snowden and the revelations of privacy breaches by various governments. Before going on, I'd like to say that I don't offer any answers here in this text, just commentary, so it is probable you won't learn anything new from me. I'm writing this because I have an itch to scratch...


Again, I feel the need to point out that I'm aware that my opinion of the whole thing is maybe too aloof and academic, but it seems that the whole topic needs a little cooling down.

What was "revealed" by Snowden was something long suspected by practically anyone in the IT industry, not because they are especially paranoid, but simply because they are aware of what could be done. The state of technology is such that extensive data collection facilities can even be done reasonably cheaply and with open source technologies. I like to look at it simply as an extension of the natural laws of physics - anything which can happen, will eventually happen.

Hardly anything is black or white. The leaked information may or may not be completely true or even complete, but revelations like this significantly increase the probability that global surveillance by governments is regularly happening. I find it curious that at the same time thare is a much smaller number of people who are ready to attack Google and Facebook for practically the same thing. What can happen, will happen - it's just that most of our communication is now done with the direct aid of technology, and the same technology doesn't "care" where it sends data (and it cannot care - wires do not think).

Then there is another thing - all those people (let's call them anarchists which have discovered the world of conspiracy theories) saying things like "THEY have the power and will not give it up easily" and "the revolution is coming", without actually thinking about who "THEY" actually are and what happens after the revolution. The "western civilization" has spent a long time empowering individuals, saying things like "be all you can be" - but the reality is that humans as a species are wired in a way that ambition (to do anything, big or small) by definition implies that people will do certain things which they will not usually do to achieve their goals. Almost no one wakes up one day and says "today I will be evil" (even though sometimes it feels that way), but most people will readily (if perhaps not happily) bend the rules slightly if the opportunity presents itself (and of course, I count myself into this majority). Considering historical events, I believe (without actually having a proof for it) that most of the current wannabe revolutionaries will not behave differently from the norm and will naturally take any unfair advatage which presents itself, even if they thing it is for the greater good.

I think our global civilization is simply in the (ever-continuing) process of growing up. We are often at a point where there are certain things that we can do, but we shouldn't. Children do not usually have that awareness and that is why we (as a society) educate them in the direction we think is better.

Unfortunately, I cannot really say that any and all wiretapping is always evil - that would be a piece of moral objectivism I don't think is practically viable. For example, I have a hobbyist interest in cryptography, and consider myself capable of using cryptography The Right Way (which, unless you're spent some time studying it, you would think is much easier than it really is), and even have some code open sourced which I believe is usable to the public at large. While I know this code has some legitimate and honest uses, I'm also constantly aware that it can be used by random criminals for purposes that I would myself consider objectionable or actively evil. That's life.

At the end, it's all about balance.

Note that now, if you have logged in to Google and Facebook, both are aware you visited this page. Do you care? Why? Would you do it willingly?


#1 Re: People will be people

Added on 2013-08-11T19:11 by be on belief

food for thought

movement of stuff is how to know good or evil

knowledge does not move stuff

action does


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