Monday, 18 November 2013

Transparency will save the world?

The Circlethe latest novel from Pulitzer-prize winning author Dave Eggers, is a surgical dissection of contemporary social media and its effects on humanity.

It revolves around The Circle, a fictional company with obvious similarities to both Google and Facebook.

The Circle develops tiny cheap webcams which people begin placing everywhere.

Soon, anybody with a computer can view almost any place or person in the world.

One senior Circle leader sells his vision like this:

“[W]hat if we all behaved as if we were being watched? It would lead to a more moral way of life. Who would do something unethical or immoral or illegal if they were being watched? If their illegal money transfer was being tracked? If their blackmailing phone call was being recorded? If their stick-up at the gas station was being filmed by a dozen cameras, and even their retinas identified during the robbery? If their philandering was being documented in a dozen ways?... we would finally be compelled to be our best selves. And I think people would be relieved. There would be this phenomenal global sigh of relief. Finally, finally, we can be good. In a world where bad choices are no longer an option, we have no choice but to be good. Can you imagine?”

The gaze of the internet, then, becomes a substitute for the conscience and for the fear of God; behavior is now entirely driven by the expectations of the online community.

Do you think universal transparency really would eliminate 'bad choices'? What might be the other effects of such a development? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

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