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Summary

Surveillance. It is used by every tyranny to lock in place an uneven arrangement of power. When the mighty know all about you but common folk know little in reverse, then without accountability you can only have despotism, as shown by 6,000 years of recorded history.

But new technologies do not have to lock in perpetual Big Brother. The spread of tools like cheap cameras and instant sharing might lead to the antidote against Big Brother. That is, if we learn the lessons taught by both history and science. The answer is not to hide from elites but to hold them accountable with light.

©2004 David Brin (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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An essential counterpoint to the prevailing attitude that surveillance is the problem. The real problem is lack of accountability and this short piece shows how we can watch the powerful rather than hide from them.

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  • T. Anderson
  • 05-08-18

An essay by the man who wrote "Earth" decades ago

I read "Earth" decades ago, and as I remember it, there were no secrets; everything on the internet was available everywhere. Cyberwars were constant; the "bad guys" were always trying to hack the internet while the "good guys" were always trying to stop them. Well, this essay reminds me of how prescient Brin is, and I'm glad to hear he pushes the potential good that can come of having no secrets. He also points out: you have no choice where loss of privacy is concerned. What you can do is take advantage of the good things that brings us (e.g., the "bad guys" don't have any privacy either -- so good luck marketing your kiddie porn online!) and hold government and corporations accountable for what they DO with the information they garner. It's short and quick and rich in information, and we need people like David Brin to make the future less frightening by shining a light forward. He does that. Good job.