I wrote the following as a response to a Singularity Weblog post about a video on the importance of privacy:
I see the need for privacy as symptoms of an underlying disease: Human and societal immaturity. What creates the need for privacy is the fear of being judged. This fear arises because we live in judgemental societies which punish deviant behaviour in various ways, even though there might not be fundamentally good reasons for that.
If we lived in a world in which you could do what you wanted, unless you caused significant harm to others (without their consent), then there would not be a justifiable need for privacy! In such a world every action that you would be ashamed off would be ethically problematic. It might still be justified to do these problematic actions if they further a higher good, but in a more mature society this possibility should be discussed openly, and possible sacrifices would have to be accepted for reaching higher goals. Thus, if all good actions can be done openly and effectively, the actions that remain that require privacy are those that are not really good. Universal transparency would be fully justified in that situation of high ethical maturity.
The problem is that our societies are not ethically mature. And by promoting the value of privacy you are just strengthening that suboptimal status quo, rather than confronting society and humanity with the highly unpleasant fact that we really aren’t as mature as we think we are.
Our true ideal should be the transition to full transparency, even if the transition towards that ideal is a valley full of shame, guilt, pain, embarrassment, despair, and existential crises! Growing up is not an easy process. It can feel devastating. But in the end, it will be worth it, because we can only reach full flourishing, our full potential, if we use maximal synergy, improve ourselves together, and don’t waste our precious resources in petty conflicts and zero sum games.
I understand that it’s highly revolutionary to set such an extreme ideal, but I believe that it is possible to achieve. It will require an immense amount of effort, and an immense amount of psychological resilience. So, why will it be worth it? Because the rewards will be full maturity, full resilience, full freedom, full flourishing, and full common wealth. Any other option would be worse than that. If we want the best future we can imagine, we must work on ourselves, endure the transitional pains, and emerge victorious in an iridescent world that is wonderful to live in, but would shock any previous generation to death, just as our current world would shock those generations that have come centuries and millennia before us.
If you argue for privacy, you are essentially arguing in favour of poverty. Only true transparency can grant us real abundance!