The End of Privacy Means the End of Taboos
We are testing what it is like to lose privacy now because if the species survives, we’ll develop a capability to not be embarrassed anymore.
Douglas Rushkoff is an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist and documentarian. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.
He is the bestselling author of Present Shock, as well as a dozen other books on media, technology, and culture, including Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc., and most recently Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. Named one of the world’s ten most influential thinkers by MIT, Rushkoff has made documentaries for PBS Frontline, including Generation Like and The Merchants of Cool, and he is a professor of media theory and digital economics at Queens College, CUNY. He lives in New York and lectures about media, society, and economics around the world.
Privacy is an artifact of a precommunicative culture. You’re not gonna have any. The good thing about that is, a lot of behaviors that we’re embarrassed about or ashamed of, that could be used to control us, will no longer be able to control us because we’ll find out that everybody masturbates or everybody has this kind of sex with their spouse or eats this kind of food or picks their nose, or does whatever.
They’ll be no privacy so all of a sudden, a lot of taboo won’t be taboo anymore and than which is truly taboo will kind of rise to the surface in a way and we’ll say, well we all can kind of agree that we don’t want to do this. And we’ll know who’s doing that.
But I find myself kind of unable to shake my childhood belief that the loss of privacy inherent in these technologies is a precursor to an almost biological or extrasensory loss of privacy that will come as the species evolves. That we are testing what it is like to lose privacy now because if the species survives, we’ll develop a capability to not be embarrassed by that stuff anymore.
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