A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Civilization without privacy

    I'm not sure whether this should go in the "worldbuilding" section, but I really liked the ideas from the "civilization without wood" thread I did so here's a new topic of a possible "alternate earth" or maybe a "dystopian/utopian" future:

    Imagine a human-like world at about present or near-future tech level where everyone upon birth is fitted with an implant that continuously streams all their senses to an open "hive" repository. Not exactly a hive mind, but a hive memory everyone has perfect access to. Anyone anywhere can just close their eyes and download someone's memories or view live streams. You always know who's who (every person has a unique ID displayed in the recordings) and there are excellent search algorithms that will help you find whatever information or person you're looking for (maybe even rankings of most popular live streams, best memories to view for entertainment or for education). There's also always a record of who viewed every memory and when. Until maturity, parents are a child's gatekeepers to the system, filtering what to let the kid see.

    My mind sort of immediately goes to ideas about cheating the system. Trying to find loopholes, ways of covertly communicating with coconspirators that would not be easily picked up unless someone watched hours and hours of your memories, etc. but I'm not looking for that.

    I'm most interested in ideas how that would change the culture, its traditions, politics and economy. Would people still "live their lives" or would they just passively watch and possibly get addicted to the best experiences out there? Would there be money in such a society or some "social credit" system? I assume lying and violence would be basically nonexistant or would they? (the instincts that give us pleasure would still be sex and violence) How would law and justice work? Would they be needed?

    Thinking of Durkon's experience with the vampire, downloading too many memories can seriously alter someone's personality. Or would people do so willingly? Like "that guy turned out excellent, let the kid download a year of his childhood".

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    The difference between this and a hive mind is razor thin. I can't see this not rapidly eroding the very concepts of "individuality" and "self" after more than a generation or two. When you can be Alice one moment, Bob another and Carol in a third, the fact that the body you're born into is Dave rapidly starts to lose any relevance or meaning.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Watching other people's lives, in real-time, from a first person perspective is likely to be both disorienting and awkward - other people aren't the same height as you, have slightly different auditory sensitivity, different vision, etc. - with considerable effort required to match up everything to actually produce an experience that isn't mentally and physically painful over more than a few minutes, and, more importantly, crushingly boring. Most people's lives aren't interesting in real time and when people watch other people do something for an extended period, such as through a Twitch stream, they are both watching a performance and there's additional content (the game) to drastically up the stimulation level. So while it is entirely possible that viewing another persons life from the point of view of their implants will become possible such Experience Playback or XP (this term is used in Eclipse Phase) is liable to remain fairly niche and will probably be mostly an extension of pre-existing industries like gaming, porn, and so forth.

    It's also important to recognize that actual human memory isn't preserved in anything like real time feed. That's extremely cumbersome. Watching a record of a person going through a day takes the entire day, and people aren't going to do that. They'll view highly selective edits at best. Consider, for example, that Kim Kardashian, probably the person alive right now who's life the greatest number of people would be eager to experience, starts her day, every day, by spending two hours in a makeup chair answering work emails while her assistants turn her actual looks into her media persona. There's no market for that.
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    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Crime would disappear. There would be no secret shames, and no shames at all. Fears would be addressed as soon as they were felt, and would not have a chance to fester. There would be no misunderstandings, since everyone would know what everyone else meant.

    The Tha'alani in the Chronicles of Elantra (Cast in Secret specifically) is a pretty good example of this.
    Last edited by Lord Torath; 2022-11-23 at 09:36 AM.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    I actually think there'd be a lot more violence, not less. But it will be mob violence rather than individual. It'd be like a worse version of social media, with the ability to extremely easily go find things to be, perhaps even justifiably, outraged about wherever and with regards to whomever you wanted.

    There have been studies about what happens when people are forcibly exposed to different views. If it's done in a largely positive background context (sharing food, playing a game together, etc) it can lead to humanization of the others and general empathy or acceptance. But in negative background contexts it quickly leads to fractures and forming sides. So if people realize that after someone upsets them they can go stream their life, rather than 'aha, I empathize and get why they did that' it's more likely to be 'aha, I knew they were a terrible person, look how dirty their kitchen is! And look what they're reading - new red flag found!'

    Like, just try to tell me that there's less drama between internet streamers than between e.g. random people who share a bus route to work.

    That said maybe over many many generations there'd be evolutionary adaptations to change that tendency?
    Last edited by NichG; 2022-11-23 at 12:15 PM.

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    Imbalance's Avatar

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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Can I re-download my own recent memories? I need to find my keys.
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    So while it is entirely possible that viewing another persons life from the point of view of their implants will become possible such Experience Playback or XP (this term is used in Eclipse Phase) is liable to remain fairly niche and will probably be mostly an extension of pre-existing industries like gaming, porn, and so forth.

    They'll view highly selective edits at best.
    Yup. Which leads to a problem. If "living everyday life" is boring (which it is relatively speaking), and one has the option to selectively experience "clips" of the most exiting/fun/whatever things anyone else has ever experienced, wouldn't everyone just sit around doing nothing all day but experience other people's "greatest hits"?

    Which leads us to some interesting effects/problems. Most people's (interesting/exciting) experiences would actually be their experiences experiencing other people's best experiences. Why go out and meet someone when you can download and experience thousands of already recorded examples of this? Why eat a meal when you can experience it via this method (and pick the absolute best eating experiences available)? No one would actually do anything themselves. Which could make noodling out who actually did what somewhat difficult (one person commits a murder, but now a million people have experienced it. Who actually experienced it, and who just experienced the recording of it?)

    Which could lead to an interesting Matrix(ish) style environment. Would anyone actually communicate to anyone else "in real time" at all in this sort of environment? Could there be some sort of collective choices being made externally somehow? Not sure. I suppose you could make this work as a setting/concept, if it were restricted somehow (used only for entertainment, for specific lengths of time maybe?).

    Dunno. I just see the whole society collapsing into a pile of people plugged in experiencing other things and none of them actually living their own lives pretty quickly. It's a singularity, but not a particularly good one. I'm pretty sure there was a StarGate episode just like this.

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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Quote Originally Posted by gbaji View Post
    Yup. Which leads to a problem. If "living everyday life" is boring (which it is relatively speaking), and one has the option to selectively experience "clips" of the most exiting/fun/whatever things anyone else has ever experienced, wouldn't everyone just sit around doing nothing all day but experience other people's "greatest hits"?

    Which leads us to some interesting effects/problems. Most people's (interesting/exciting) experiences would actually be their experiences experiencing other people's best experiences. Why go out and meet someone when you can download and experience thousands of already recorded examples of this? Why eat a meal when you can experience it via this method (and pick the absolute best eating experiences available)? No one would actually do anything themselves. Which could make noodling out who actually did what somewhat difficult (one person commits a murder, but now a million people have experienced it. Who actually experienced it, and who just experienced the recording of it?)
    Well, this depends on how much fidelity this sort of playback has. Perfectly replicating an experience seems both unlikely - the full set of human sensory input and the complex mélange of endocrine and neurological outputs that make up what we 'feel' at any moment would be extremely complicated to capture - and unhealthy - trying to match one person's reactions to those of another exactly is liable to do all kinds of horrible things to their mind.

    More likely this sort of playback would consist of audio and video data, and, in a few rare cases where it was specifically produced for the purpose, tactile data (mostly porn, because of course).

    I really this simply becoming another form of media. Yes it would come with temptations and addictions, as existing media does, and it would probably have specific problems related to abuse as any new form of media (probably severe identity issues of some kind), but that's just how this sort of thing goes.

    The real risk of 'all plugged-in, all-the-time' has more to do with economics and resource distribution. For example, it there's a UBI, home unit 3D printing, and some kind of VR immersion tech that's when full time retreat from the real world to live within media becomes easy. It doesn't really matter if that is traditional shows, video games, or something like experience playback the ultimate effect is the same.
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I actually think there'd be a lot more violence, not less. But it will be mob violence rather than individual. It'd be like a worse version of social media, with the ability to extremely easily go find things to be, perhaps even justifiably, outraged about wherever and with regards to whomever you wanted.
    Mob violence requires dehumanizing the target. You can't do that here, because you intimately know what the other person has experienced, and they know what you've experienced. Social media is a poor comparison, because social media is mostly lies. Not because it's untrue (although it sometime is), but because it's not the whole truth. It's bits of your life and/or viewpoint that you specifically want other people to see, and nothing you don't want them to see. This is different. Yes, you can see that so-and-so had an awesome vacation, but you can also see the terribly hard times they've been going through the three months previously. You can't lie, because everyone knows if you're lying. You can't pass on a conspiracy theory, because everyone can see the lives of the 'conspirators' and see there is no truth to your suspicions. You can't start a conspiracy, because you can't keep a secret.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    Mob violence requires dehumanizing the target. You can't do that here, because you intimately know what the other person has experienced, and they know what you've experienced. Social media is a poor comparison, because social media is mostly lies. Not because it's untrue (although it sometime is), but because it's not the whole truth. It's bits of your life and/or viewpoint that you specifically want other people to see, and nothing you don't want them to see. This is different. Yes, you can see that so-and-so had an awesome vacation, but you can also see the terribly hard times they've been going through the three months previously. You can't lie, because everyone knows if you're lying. You can't pass on a conspiracy theory, because everyone can see the lives of the 'conspirators' and see there is no truth to your suspicions. You can't start a conspiracy, because you can't keep a secret.
    Social media is an extreme modern example (and its used in a number of these studies as it's very convenient data-wise), but among the sorts of things I've seen that study this use cases like looking at how opinions evolve when people are paired together on a soccer team or share dinners, versus what happens if you just put them in a room together with a mediator, versus what happens if you put them in a room together without a mediator. The specific papers I'm thinking of do involve politics and religion so I won't get into them.

    A more neutral example would be Wikipedia edit wars (this I'm recalling from a talk by Simon DeDeo). If you look at the dynamics of edits to an article there are basically two phases of activity - a slow phase in which edits are fairly spaced out in time, and a rapid phase in which the time between edits becomes much shorter. So he collected statistics about how these things followed each-other and made a sort of Markov model of the process. The result was that the data was more consistent with a model in which faster edits provoked even faster edits than one in which these were just sort of spontaneous phases. So the conclusion was that being exposed to frequent negative interactions basically made people more likely to interact more negatively (and more rapidly) in the future.

    Anyhow, most of this doesn't actually have to do with believing false things about the other people, its more to do with the frequency and intensity of negative feelings and interactions that become associated with those people. Knowing more about someone you're currently pissed off at is more likely to make you reject even normal things that are part of their life rather than to make you discard your anger. If you see a stranger have three months of hard times, you might feel sorry for them, sure. But if you're already starting to see them as an enemy, you might feel schaudenfraude instead. Depends where in the process you happen to be, but vastly increased contact will just make things go faster and more strongly in whatever direction you were leaning at the time.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    How did this culture come about? You're describing a technological system, so there must have been a time before it was created; when these same people, or their ancestors, had an advanced culture - advanced enough to develop this kind of tech - but didn't have this database. What made the whole of society decide to do this to themselves?

    Leading on from that: did nobody opt out? You'd think there would be some who didn't want to go along. What happened to them?

    There will be ways to cheat the system. Consider: it was implemented as a new tech system - which is something that has never happened without there being security holes, hacks and loopholes. The people who learn to exploit these would quickly become powerful and influential, because that's what happens when a small minority of people learn to play a system instead of just using it. And, from these positions of power and influence, they would be in a superb position to resist anyone ever effectively patching their exploits. I imagine whole plotlines turning on the struggles between people in this category, with some (forming what for want of a better word we'll call "the government") co-operating with one another to shut down the exploits of rivals, while keeping their own open.

    So that answers the question about crime: yes, it would still very much exist, redefined as "using unauthorised hacks". Politics too - there may or may not be anything visibly akin to governments or elections, but there would absolutely be some people who are much more powerful than others, and some groups of those people would co-operate to make sure things stayed that way. Law and justice? Yep, bearing in mind the new definition of crime.

    Couch potatoes? As now, some people would no doubt do that, but not everyone. "Real memories" would be a recurrent fashion, and some people would take joy in not using the system for days or weeks on end. And some of them would build followings, like popular YouTubers, and thus become influential in their own way.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    How did this culture come about? You're describing a technological system, so there must have been a time before it was created; when these same people, or their ancestors, had an advanced culture - advanced enough to develop this kind of tech - but didn't have this database. What made the whole of society decide to do this to themselves?
    Actually, the best way to imagine a society like this is probably that it was entirely imposed upon the people in question. In fact, something like this seems best considered if the entire population is in fact within a simulation that is running all of them and therefore captures all their experiences as a matter of course. The ability to use experiential playback would simply be a form of privileged access to the simulation's own archival data, though why the beings running the sim would set up such a system is an interesting question.
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    The OP situation, while horrifying and gross, wouldn't lead to a privacy-free situation at all. Privacy would just be different. You would really need mind-reading more than just physically seeing someone's body, because otherwise you can make people misinterpret events without too much difficulty, especially with the degree of overconfidence people who think they know everything are bound to have.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Awesome feedback guys! I love this community!

    As for how it came about - this was intended to be a possible post-cyberpunk scifi scenario - when one community/cult/city decides to adapt this and the tech is so good, everyone in time just gets it. Like internet access or smart-phones.

    As an experienced DM/roleplayer my instincts immediately go towards looking for exploits/hack/conspiracies etc. but that's what I wanted to avoid. I want the system to genuinely stabilize, and hopefully not fall into either the "hivemind" or "couch potatoe" dystopias. Would there be an experience-based economy?

    The more I think about it the more I come to the conclusion that a lot would depend on the algorithms and interfaces. How do "recommendations" spread?
    One thing I haven't decided on is how "real-time" is the memory download. Do you need to "watch" or can you just "copy" and feel as if you know/remember something ("I know kungfu")

    Another thing is I wanted to do is insert the players into this scenario without the implants (as time/timeline travelers) and see how they affect the system.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulhakov View Post
    I'm not sure whether this should go in the "worldbuilding" section, but I really liked the ideas from the "civilization without wood" thread I did so here's a new topic of a possible "alternate earth" or maybe a "dystopian/utopian" future:

    Imagine a human-like world at about present or near-future tech level where everyone upon birth is fitted with an implant that continuously streams all their senses to an open "hive" repository. Not exactly a hive mind, but a hive memory everyone has perfect access to. Anyone anywhere can just close their eyes and download someone's memories or view live streams. You always know who's who (every person has a unique ID displayed in the recordings) and there are excellent search algorithms that will help you find whatever information or person you're looking for (maybe even rankings of most popular live streams, best memories to view for entertainment or for education). There's also always a record of who viewed every memory and when.
    On one hand, this is a terrifying panopticon, but it's a very inefficient panopticon because you've got myriad hours of nothing; every person dumping 24 hours of full sensory data into a central database. To find anything you'd need indexing and searching, and how the society would function would be incredibly dependent on how refined that search ability was: to find seconds of relevant information you're sifting an enormous pile of data--just on one person--to find the correlates, the bits that connect up, and would have to do so in a way that blots out noise...including the relevant noise of stray thoughts that seem significant but are just random. Most people do not know themselves and day by day have thoughts that are disturbing or dark....but then those thoughts pass and end up reflecting nothing. But if all that is recording, encoded, and available to anyone to find, then they can be assigned significance, granted a narrative that can be presented as Truth. Indeed, the most terrifying thing about this system is that with that much data you could invent narratives of what people wanted, create motives and intentions, by just threading together enough random thoughts. Rather like how reality television creates that characterization and the stories in the edit, the usage of this database to "prove" anything would be entirely dependent on the curators...and it's not just that it could go wrong because of bad faith operators (like real TV producers)...if you prime a curator to find a pattern, they're working with so much material that they could in good faith create a narrative.

    But just like a panopticon it would mess with people whether or not they were being actively watched: that's the point of a panopticon, that you have to consider at all times that you can be seen and thus self-discipline. But thoughts are not ordered nor are particularly controllable, especially under stress or when struggling with mental illness; the fear that your worst internal moment will be found and judged as the whole of your character would be present at all times for most people. It's "don't think of an elephant" but with the slim possibility you'll get lynched for elephant-thought. This would, ironically, create a feedback loop in which the system creates problems by watching, that are recorded and treated as the "truth" which in turn creates baseline expectations of how people think that would lead to real policy choices that require closer watching.

    A great deal would depend on how deep the retention of the experience would be. Memories are not recording, the sensorium is not a camera; experience is the digestion of stimulus using heuristics based on prior impressions, but with highly variable weighting to experiences. Any moment in of the experiential "present" is constructed from myriad flash-impressions from the past, combined with learned frameworks of how to experience an event acquired through social learning. If all that is conveyed through consumption, you're essentially highjacking your brain with someone else's thoughts, so it really, really matter how well any given consumer develops coping skills for that experience, or even learns in the moment how to differentiate self-thoughts from other-thoughts.

    It's actually just as much a problem if the playback isn't a full integration of prime subject and secondary viewer: in that case the latter has to do interpretative work of a bunch of decontextualized information...which means this system would actually be kind of terrible as a recording media and almost useless as an official record...it would be like using an expressionist film as court evidence or poetry as testimony: what's been added is yet another layer of struggle to interpret.

    Until maturity, parents are a child's gatekeepers to the system, filtering what to let the kid see.
    Okay, it's hard to convey how harmful this system would be for kids particularly since the most dangerous adult to any given child is their parents. Parents letting their kids experience any memories as their own is profound milieu control...kids already struggle to differentiate themselves from their social grouping...both their peers and their caregivers...and adding into that direct experience of another person's mindset is just...a terrible idea unless you're a cult leader or a profound narcissist. And letting parents pick what their kids can experience doesn't make it safer, it makes it more profoundly manipulative: children are now little automata their parents can directly inject values and worldview into.

    Don't like what you're kid is thinking? Just drip feed them a mindset that's more amenable until they can't differentiate their thoughts from the other's. Just absolute nightmare fuel.

    My mind sort of immediately goes to ideas about cheating the system. Trying to find loopholes, ways of covertly communicating with coconspirators that would not be easily picked up unless someone watched hours and hours of your memories, etc. but I'm not looking for that.
    The cheat for this system is simply to have a form of power such that you have license to think things and not be held accountable for them.

    I mean, really the only cheat needed is security through obscurity--who is going to go through so much mundane thought to find the tiny kernel something relevant--but let's face it, this tech requires an enormous top-down infrastructure such that there's probably a hegemony, and there's no reason why the hegemony couldn't bend the rules to grant themselves privacy. We already live in a society where putative power should be transparent but invents justifications for opaqueness.

    You can make the same excuses for ignoring thoughts that are currently made for ignoring words.

    I'm most interested in ideas how that would change the culture, its traditions, politics and economy.
    Well, if the information sharing is perfectly distributed--anyone can self-directedly experience anything--then the net consequence is going to be that people consume what they want to such a perfect degree that people will self-select into consumer tribes. Basically, the culture shattering of the internet but with the added edge of blurring the self-other distinction within the in-group. There would be people whose memories are consumed a great deal and thus attain clout and significance that they could actively harness; there would also be people who feel deeply exploited by their memories being used, who feel no connection with others who consume them.

    But that's assuming perfect distribution and perfect access, which is basically impossible: unless things are post-scarcity people do not have time to just go find nuggets of experience through research, nor time to passively consume memories. So there's likely to be multiple layers of authoritative curation out there: people would put together playlists and sell, or at least, promote, their curations as optimum experiences.

    And here, again, things become sinister because the theoretically blurring of self and other isn't "passive" viewing: if you're truly imbedded in the full processing arc of experience--the worldview, the heuristics, the base assumptions of the prime subject--you're just neurologically simulating having the experience, which means your own brain is re-wiring itself to accommodate that new experience. People build their worldviews out of heuristics present in fiction and it skews their expectations of real life; this is a thousand times more potent with shared memory. This is so powerful that people inclined to control others are going to use it to their ends because it is the ultimate way to obtain compliance from an individual.

    Hence the thing I was worried about with kids--overwriting them by swamping their own thoughts with the thoughts of others to make automata, their heuristics precisely tuned to suit their parents' values--extends to every other person who's slightly down-power.

    Why wouldn't governments, or businesses, or religious institutions use their coercive power (whether that is hard or soft) to push individuals into self-curating their memory consumption? Why do it for fun when you can make yourself a better worker, a better citizen, a better adherent?

    Part of what's scary is that the base assumption is that this would be used on an individual, consumerist basis, but the technology immediately lends itself to the interests of institutions that largely view people as widgets. Effectively it's a machine that make a person not-themselves, and throughout history you can see selfish and grasping individuals and institutions dream of a permanent underclass of programmable people: the longing for machine like men precedes the dream of man-like machines by centuries...and this device offers a very obvious path to that end.

    Would people still "live their lives" or would they just passively watch and possibly get addicted to the best experiences out there?
    This is dependent on material factors in the world independent of the technology itself: how do people subsist, do they have to participate in a monetary economy and create value to live.

    Again, even if access is perfectly democratic, time is not: who can actually spend time using this technology freely is really important to how it will bend society, and...again...it's such a powerful lever to control people with that I can't imagine it now being subverted. There's so much power in curation and distribution that can be bent to handle people that any center of power would be mad not to act as middlemen for memories.

    And on the other, also bleak, hand, the pursuit of bespoke experiences is still downstream of real-life precarity: if people enjoy certain kinds of outre or extreme memory-experiences there's an incentive to create or find more of the same, and that's a market system. And where' there a market there's exploitation--why not find poor people to do awful things that rich people want to see--

    Would there be money in such a society or some "social credit" system?
    This wouldn't be dependent on the memory system. Money is a token of value, and value is determined by the structural needs of the society as interpreted by the power-holders in the society. Money isn't real, it's the agreed upon language for comparing worth of things--mostly goods and services--but those comparisons do not have to be fair or rational.

    Authoritarians might want a social credit system because that directly ties top-down-enforced mores to material well-being, but the memory storage system just...isn't great for a social credit system because it's too much data and thought is too fleeting to develop a scoring system for. As an authoritarian you give no ****s about sincerity, you want maximum control, performance within the set constraints. A truly ideological authoritarian system would just rig the memory system to remove inappropriate material, not slap a ratings system on top of the utter pandemonium of approaching-infinite fleeting thoughts. More darkly, the memory system becomes an enormous bad-faith extortion system in which everyone is consuming inappropriate things but enforcement only materializes when the state needs leverage: much like how illegal vices can be selectively enforced by the state as needed.

    And I realize this is breaking the initial premise but...this technology is so profoundly useful for bad actors that it's either going to be a tool of the state, "free" but servicing the end of the powerful, or it's going to commercial product. If nothing else, it's an enormous chunk of infrastructure.

    I assume lying and violence would be basically nonexistant or would they? (the instincts that give us pleasure would still be sex and violence)
    People commit violence knowing they'll be caught all the time; aggression can be an impulse that overrides calculation. Furthermore, this memory technology is perfectly subjective--you are entirely in the experiential framework of another person--so it's use as evidence is not as much of a truth-finding mechanism as it might first seem: people are not very good observers, are incapable of escaping their impressions, so a mass of experience-recordings of a crime are closer to a Rashomon than to an objective telling. And there's an exceptional disturbing twist in that some people will share the perspective of the perpetrator and accept their framing of how events went.

    But also...every person in the society has the option to experience violence from the pleasurable perspective of the violence-doer, just as much as they could share the suffering of the violence receiver. If this technology is truly free to use as an activity, which do you think people would choose to do? Indeed, why would anyone voluntarily re-experience the distress or struggle of another person in their free time? If the technology is just...consumption...then it will be consumed like any other media and have the same standard distribution in which non-challenging, pleasurable experiences vastly outnumber challenging ones, but challenging pleasurable experiences will still be consumed more that challenging unpleasant ones.

    This has cultural implications, because people are free to choose the perspective of the perpetrator, and thus empathize with them, but they are also free to ignore the suffering, or even find the suffering inconvenient because they flood the storage systems with unpleasant, ungratifying stimulus. Right now--right right now--there are people who get genuinely angry when they're reminded that people area suffering the world somewhere, whom actively resent the suffering for eliciting empathy. Victim blaming exists precisely because it voids empathy, and the described system has no way to compel people to use the technology pro-socially. The system puts empathy and gratification even farther at odds with one another, consumerism never breaks for the more difficult choice.

    Furthermore, all societies have socially acceptable forms of violence, and socially acceptable sadism; most societies even have clearly designated acceptable targets. Spanking kids isn't just normal in some places, it's viewed as pro-social: right now people on social media consume corporal punishment material. This system makes ensuring that everyone experiences the joy of righteous harm in an intensely personal way--we can all feel like the people having a picnic next to a murdered man in those old souvenir lynching photos--which, again, makes it kind of perfect for embedding the perspective of the powerful directly into the consciousness of the citizenry.

    How would law and justice work? Would they be needed?
    Well, it depends on if thoughts can count as crimes, which is basically the same conundrum as pre-crime in scifi: if you haven't done it are you culpable? Because you can plan every step of a murder in your head, have a very detailed plan, and still not do that murder. Unless there is novel legislation established the weight of recorded thoughts as intent, then the thought bank is just another kind of record, usefully only post-event to establish guilt.

    But most crime is a product of material precarity--people steal and rob because they need something. Interpersonal violence mostly occurs inside intimate relationships where the motive is highly emotional and the violence itself impulsive. So the memory system isn't going to be a deterrent.


    "...downloading too many memories can seriously alter someone's personality. Or would people do so willingly? Like "that guy turned out excellent, let the kid download a year of his childhood".

    Memories aren't tidy packages of individually wrapped experience: personal impression necessarily includes the whole gestalt, all the background impressions that create the framework that create the reaction to the stimulus that creates the memory.

    The best way this technology could be used is therapeutic: people benefit from radical context changes, from discovering it's possible to think in a different way. But...that goodness would be contingent on restrictions to use and after-care that aren't part of the thought experiment. If people can just...do this...it's just going to be a crap shoot on who comes out okay from the experience.

    Permanently drop a piece of someone else into a different person and it's not like putting another topping on a sandwich: that alternative memory either has an enormous load of alien context or giant gaping holes in what it means. The effect on personality wouldn't be simplistically additive and the mesh between the existing framework and the new material would be both unpredictable and not necessarily stable: memories change over time, having different weight and meaning in the moment. At minimum that's going to be confusing in ways that create complications for social connectoin: you now have recollections that include people you don't know, feelings connected to places and people you have no access to and thus cannot re-visit.

    Thing is, this isn't comparable to other kinds of self-transformation or change; you are not only immediately out of sync with the experience-world of everyone around you, your news experience do not integrate into the rest of your world. Downloading a year of idyllic schooling in France might be pleasurable at first, but as the contrast between material conditions and expectations set by another person's experience interact the result isn't necessarily positive. "Good memories" are not abstractly good, there are very specific contextual things that make them good and most of those involve social connection...and the borrowed memory is a cut flower in a vase, there is no possibility of continuation or return. The things that made the memory good cannot be replicated because the people don't know you, the successes are contigent on skills that aren't conveyed.
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2022-11-24 at 05:13 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
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    Default Re: Civilization without privacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulhakov View Post
    I'm not sure whether this should go in the "worldbuilding" section, but I really liked the ideas from the "civilization without wood" thread I did so here's a new topic of a possible "alternate earth" or maybe a "dystopian/utopian" future:

    Imagine a human-like world at about present or near-future tech level where everyone upon birth is fitted with an implant that continuously streams all their senses to an open "hive" repository. Not exactly a hive mind, but a hive memory everyone has perfect access to. Anyone anywhere can just close their eyes and download someone's memories or view live streams. You always know who's who (every person has a unique ID displayed in the recordings) and there are excellent search algorithms that will help you find whatever information or person you're looking for (maybe even rankings of most popular live streams, best memories to view for entertainment or for education). There's also always a record of who viewed every memory and when. Until maturity, parents are a child's gatekeepers to the system, filtering what to let the kid see.
    .
    I feel like you just described the Borg, from Star Trek. :)
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