TED Conversations

Arkady Grudzinsky


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Do we need privacy?



1. The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
2. The state of being free from public attention.

So, it's a form of freedom. I find it deeply controversial.

Does it mean that we should not pay attention to each other? There are stories on internet of people dying in subway from heart attack in the midst of a crowd passing by.

Is it possible? We leave traces behind us every minute - online, when we use credit cards to buy something, even by walking in the street with a cell phone in our pocket. Why are we outraged or feel threatened when we find out that someone "is watching"? Perhaps, it goes deeper in our psyche that we think or can explain.

What is the difference between privacy and secrecy? When and why do we need them?

Some people put their whole life online. Some are cautious about giving any personal information to anyone. Ironically, we can protect ourselves from oppression and crime both ways.

What's your attitude towards privacy? I would appreciate the links to videos and sources on this topic.

Topics: privacy secrecy

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    Jun 21 2013: I guess, this topic comes from a cognitive dissonance that I have regarding privacy.

    On one hand, it's creepy to feel that every our step is watched - by security cameras, satellites, phone companies, banks, email providers, marketers, advertisers, government. On the other hand, so what? Dwelling in fear and paranoia and getting angry about this can be more detrimental to my life than tracking itself.
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        Jun 21 2013: Perhaps, "driven by exchange", not necessarily consumerism. To maintain complete privacy, we need to live in a natural economy - produce goods for our own consumption - no money, no exchange, no need for communication. But that seems to be over a thousand years backwards in development of society.

        Are we moving towards society where everything is openly shared (communism)? No private property, no privacy. I don't mean it in a negative sense. Perhaps, in society of abundance where all resources are available to satisfy everyone's needs, ownership and privacy are not very important as there is no competition for resources - no reason for crime and protection.
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        Jun 21 2013: I bet, Pat has something to say about this. Once you get away from natural economy and set your foot on the path of exchange and division of labor towards narrow specialization and optimization of production, the scale of this exchange and division of labor begins between people, then spreads between communities, cities, and states. Global and international exchange and division of labor is but a natural next step lest we want to go back to natural economy.

        Exponential growth, however, is unsustainable. Exponential processes that feed on themselves need mechanisms to limit their growth out of control. Uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction is destructive, but controlled one, with proper feedback loops, can be very powerful.
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          Jun 22 2013: Talking to LaMar is a waste of time. Suffice to say that he is 180 degrees to economic FACTS on every one of his points.

          Using survival as a substitute for morality doesn't resonate?

          The one thing you can count on no matter what above all else is that the individual is going to do everything possible to survive. This is why girls want to look pretty, why guys want to be tough, this is why people want money, this is why nations want to have big stick weapons, this is why people want male children, this is why people do not want oppressive governments, this is why people want to be smart, this is why people want to be right, this is why people want to be interesting.

          Survival is not a yes or no proposition it is to what degree. Only a crazy guy would try to survive for himself, come to think of it that is exactly what crazy guys do. Other than them everyone pushes for the survival of all life in varying degrees.

          So when weighing the morality of something simply insert pro survival. Is this more pro survival or less pro survival in weighing the circumstances of something. This is about as absolute as it gets.
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        Jun 23 2013: @Pat re using survival for morality.

        It looks like you promote "ethical egoism".

        I think, there are volumes written on this issue and we can grow long beards arguing this topic. I've stated my position on morals in one of my responses to Krisztian. Morality seems to come from "self" - our own consciousness. To that degree I may agree with the "self-interest" concept, but when we elaborate it further, we get entangled in contradictions as it usually happens when we discuss "self". It quickly turns into a discussion for the sake of discussion ("self" again).
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        Jun 24 2013: LaMar, re: "Pat is a typical corporatist"

        Don't you think, "typical corporatist" is a stereotype?

        re: "He would probably be happy to see the US collapse and would help push it off a cliff if he could because poverty creates cheap labor and he profits from that."

        How do you make these assumptions?

        I like many of your opinions - in fact, I was trying to push another "like" on one of your comments, but TED said, I exceeded my weekly limit for "likes for this user". But I don't like finger-pointing and name-calling.
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        Jun 24 2013: La Mar,

        Perhaps, you might realize that on the other end of this spectrum is communism - no private property, everything belongs "to the people" (the government), and the government makes all political and economic choices "for the people" and "in the name of the people".

        As we try to stay away from the slippery slope on one side, we risk sliding down on the other side. This is where these discussions often turn into a chicken-egg argument. It's not a question which ideology is right or wrong. It's a question of how much we trust the government to take care of our needs and how much the government trusts the people to make good choices for themselves. That's the fundamental conflict between "individual good" and "common good".

        The truth isn't on either side. The truth is the act of balance so that we don't fall on either side. When a majority is pulling to one side, we have to rely on people like Pat and Krisztian who hold unpopular opinions to keep us from falling.

        "A tree falls in the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean." -- The Lorax

        “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
        ― Mark Twain

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