MemeStreams combines the power of weblogs and social networking. The members of our community work together to find interesting content on the web. As you use the site, it learns your interests, and provides new links it thinks you will like. Read more about MemeStreams or create an account!
People are less likely to abuse the power [surveillance] gives them if they know that they, too, are vulnerable. Thus the deeper fear for many has to do with situations where surveillance and access to information is combined with an asymmetrical power structure.
Even if we lived in a world where everyone had to prove their position with statistical data, and there were monitoring stations evenly distributed across the country, we would still face the issue of what political sociologists of science call "organized ignorance." That is, powerful actors like governments and companies make a point to not understand things so that they are difficult or impossible to regulate. Whether it is counting the number of sexual assaults, or the amount of chemicals used in fracking, intentionally not collecting data is a powerful tool. So while I agree ... that people should base important decisions on sound data, we should also acknowledge that access to data is deeply uneven.
Perhaps at no other time has the enterprise of moral realism ever been so much needed, for at no other time have so many people committed themselves to moral righteousness. We have the books that point out the bad conditions, that praise us for taking progressive attitudes. We have no books that raise questions in our minds not only about conditions but about ourselves, that lead us to refine our motives and ask what might lie behind our good impulses.
Moral indignation, which has been said to be the favorite emotion of the middle class, may be in itself an exquisite pleasure.
We must be aware of the dangers which lie in our most generous wishes. Some paradox of our natures leads us, when once we have made our fellowmen the objects of our enlightened interest to go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.
Cormac McCarthy, "Blood Meridian":
At dusk they halted and built a fire and roasted the deer. The night was much enclosed about them and there were no stars. To the north they could see other fires that burned red and sullen along the invisible ridges. They ate and moved on, leaving the fire on the ground behind them, and as they rode up into the mountains this fire seemed to become altered of its location, now here, now there, drawing away, or shifting unaccountably along the flank of their movement. Like some ignis fatuus belated upon the road behind them which all could see and of which none spoke. For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies.
That the enemy is us, is never easy to take.
||the thousandth clown theory
The lone trader does his analysis and doesn't worry about being taken because he is just one guy trying to make a few trades. And then his setup happens and he takes his position ... and the market does exactly the thing that will cause him the biggest loss. How can this be? he thinks. He is just one clown trying to clip a few ticks or points, here and there, not worthy of being a target. But he starts to suspect that maybe he is just one of a thousand clowns, or ten thousand, who are all doing exactly the same analysis at precisely the same time and taking the same positions, which are exploited by a better algo in a box somewhere with huge backing. This "thousandth clown theory" starts to gnaw at him, make him doubt.
Man, in SMBC:
I know that the babysitter's club won't cook and eat my children, but I'd just relax more if a profit-motivated third party provided confirmation.
Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen:
"We asked one kid to design his ideal room," another researcher told us. "And it had all sorts of covert elements: booby traps and CSI [from the Crime Scene Investigation TV series] secret doorways. Everything was communicating, 'Stay out!'" The anthropologists discerned that the box of poison mushrooms and the booby-trapped room were both reactions against the staging and surveillance happening in the children's lives.
How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?
Either you care, or you don't. There's no in-between. And if you care, then go all of the way.