If humanity is to move forward, it must overcome its obsession with privacy. And it is, albeit very slowly.
The fundamental reasons most people want privacy tend to be based on rational enough logic. Most governments will throw its citizens in prison for ingesting substances the government finds immoral. Many corporations will go to any lengths to squeeze every last cent out of anyone they can. Most people will try to destroy anyone who offends them. With a world as violent and diseased as this one, it’s no surprise that people want society to have the least control over them as possible.
It is also for this reason, however, that the people of society must be kept under control. Complete freedom for the individual cannot exist in an interconnected society: one person’s freedom is another’s oppression. For a society to work, its citizens must submit themselves to a simple set of rules and these rules must then be enforced. Right now, this doesn’t happen. When the government and enforcers of the rules themselves frequently break them, the general citizens are not going to want to give these people control over them–no sane person would.
Surveillance, for example, is potentially an extremely useful crime solving and prevention tool. When this tool is instead used to harass and torment without reason (ex: to punish citizens for unapproved drug use), it justifiably generates hatred and opposition. The solution to this state of corruption, abuse and mistrust is technology.
Imagine that blatantly corrupt laws such as those on drug use are eliminated, then that surveillance is put to record every inch of public space in high definition. But instead of mentally unstable humans to monitor the feed, it is watched at all times by an objective artificial intelligence system. It would monitor for illegal activity and then notify a human when any was spotted, this and when footage was needed to investigate a prior committed crime are the only times humans would need to view any of the footage.
Such an AI system is possible with today’s technology, in a limited way; there are plenty of video monitoring systems that could catch a number of possible crimes, but most crimes would go missed initially. But AI technology will eventually be able to spot nearly 100% of crimes.
By having a sleek system of laws and enforcing those laws with objective technology systems, the majority of crime could be eliminated. In order for this to happen, people would have to give up many of their privacies. Besides public cameras, many other needed systems of monitoring will be a tough sell. Private email, phone conversations, public restrooms, maybe even private residences will all have to be continuously monitored. And that’s just the shortlist.
None of this will be possible for at least a decade. Besides technology not being mature enough, many people now would find this kind of monitoring completely unacceptable. Maybe unacceptable is putting it mildly, they’d probably shoot anyone just for suggesting it–I myself am frequently shot and killed. Telling someone only an algorithm or other AI system will have access to their data is not going to make most people feel any better about having a camera above their toilet. As well, any abuse of this data would be disastrous, and great steps must be taken to ensure this can’t happen.
For those who refuse to tolerate living under such a system, the option should exist to exit it.