Even you value privacy

If you have nothing to hide uses some extreme examples to show that everyone values privacy. At least to some extent. If there is anything about you that you would not want publicly known, then you have a desire for privacy.

Scott Adams often writes about what potential worlds with minimal privacy would look like. The benefits sound appealing, but I fear are utopian. The problem seems to be that a privacy-free world is a fragile system. It generally will work pretty well, and everyone will benefit. But it can fail catastrophically when a bad actor is able to leverage it.


Consider a low-privacy world. A diverse set of information about our lives is accessible with little effort by many parties. An adversary only needs to discover an unforeseen malicious use of this data in order to cause damage. In a high-privacy world, such an adversary faces another hurdle. He must go through the trouble of obtaining the data. Ideally with the data stored in a secure, distributed fashion. As an extreme example, only in people’s heads. The high-privacy world is less likely to experience widespread attacks on social infrastructure.

I posit that we are better off as a society if we build anti-fragile institutions and policies. But this is hard to do. It requires sacrificing potential short term, tangible gains in return for long term survival. It is difficult to jump from one equilibrium to the other.

2 thoughts on “Even you value privacy

  1. I was reminded recently about the concept of anti-fragility and had first heard about it from your blog/s. Today I went looking through this blog looking for the post that explained it. Perhaps this post was it.

    Thanks for writing it. It was a critical component in my life’s journey.

    Cheers friend,

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