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Call for thoughts... - Unbeliever's Land
...The continuing chronicles...
unbeliever64
unbeliever64
Call for thoughts...
I've had this story idea for a long time.  I've actually started writing it twice, but haven't gotten very far yet.  It's a *BIG* idea.  It should really be a novel -- or a trilogy -- but I've never had the organization or patience for anything that big.  If I can write a decent-length short story, I'll be doing good.

What I'd like to do is ask anybody reading my Journal -- all 4 or 5 of you -- to mull this over.  Take some time to really think about it.  And then respond with your thoughts here

So here's the story premise:

In the present time (or near future), someone develops and activates a technology that completely eliminates all privacy, for everyone, forever.  The effect of this technology cannot be reversed.  Any thought, feeling, or knowledge, in any living human mind, can instantly accessed by anyone at any time, anywhere.  (
Think of it as MindGoogle.)

This is *NOT* your standard one-way invasion of privacy (like the U.S. government is currently doing to every American by collecting our phone records) -- where the powerful learn YOUR secrets but you have no reciprocal knowledge.

In this scenerio, there IS no privacy:
  • Everyone suddenly knows your deepest darkest secrets -- but you know theirs, too.
  • Everyone knows every lie that anyone has ever told -- and why.
*SO* -- obviously, nothing's the same anymore.  *NOTHING*  The question is, what are the results?  Heaven or Hell?  Utopia or Distopia?

The immediate reaction I think most people would have is, Distopia.  Everything self-destructs.  Humanity dies off, or almost does.

My inclination, however, is that it would mostly be Utopia -- though there would be a few painful tradeoffs.
  • Humiliation and shame vanish.  EVERYONE'S vulnerabilities are exposed -- so we can't avoid being more sensitive about EACH OTHERS vulnerabilities.  (We're all naked now -- no shield for the priveleged.)
  • Crime vanishes -- except for the seriously drugged or mentally ill (who are trivially identifiable and can be easily quarantined/cared for), and for those in desperate need.  And those in need can also be easily identified, and resources diverted to them efficiently.
  • Past middeeds by politicians, clergy and other authority figures may need to be atoned for -- but the nature of the atonement can be determined by the united will of a fully informed planet, and will not need to be enforced by anyone, since everyone will know if the criminal has fulfilled his punishment.
  • Teaching/training/education are no longer necessary.  All knowledge is available to all people, instantly.
  • All scientific fields (including medicine) instantly explode, as everyone has access to the latest and best knowledge in any field.
  • All religions vanish, melding into a generalized humanism and vague spirituality.
  • All hatred, bigotry and prejudice vanish, as people can now truly understand one another "from the inside".
  • Money and greed vanish, as humanity makes a compact for itself -- a perfected version of "from each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need".  Trust is no longer necessary.
On the other hand:
  • Dating is unnecessary/impossible.   You already know everything about each other.
  • Finding a perfect mate would be easy -- but would a relationship even be possible?  Can romance, or even love, exist?
  • As soon as anyone has a creative thought, everyone else has already heard it.  Everyone is familiar with every story, every song.  Can art exist?
Obviously, I've barely scratched the surface here.  Every aspect of humanity is forever altered.  (I'm assuming, BTW, that the "mindlink" would be nearly nonexistant in babies, and slowly develop throughout childhood -- and slowly diminish with senility.  Like any other mental faculty.)

So -- what are your thoughts?  Utopia or Distopia?  What major implications am I overlooking?

...It should make for interesting conversation, in any case...

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Current Emotional State: good good

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Comments
From: penitence69 Date: May 19th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
one thing that comes to mind is the method of getting to that point would be highly suggestive of the outcome.

imagine, you're sitting at work and all of a sudden you "know" everything anyone's ever thought or will think. minority report aspects aside, i would suddenly drop my utensils or whatever i had in my hand, grab my head, and scream "AHHHHHHHHHH!"

if society were prepared for it, however, we might all be sitting by the phone, so to speak, waiting to know one or two important things we've always wanted to know. i guess the monumental issue at hand is how would the information be disseminated? what would the "medium" be, if you'll pardon the pun. it's just too large a concept.

i don't think humans, as a species, would perpetuate beyond the initial shock and traumatic adjustment period.

and it's naiive to think anything would change greatly. for instance, crime would not stop. some criminals don't care if others know they've behaved badly. would there be pre-knowledge? pre-cognizance? if so, i can picture one person standing still and just saying "if i stand here for x number of days, a certain person or situation will cross my path right where i stand and i can go from there!"

in short, too many variables! i think you'd have to define it step by step, and in the writing or telling of the process, you would answer all these questions and thereby produce the story you want in the first place.

i imagine empathy in it's purest form feels much like the society you describe: one knows every persons' motivations, emotions, et cetera. i fancy myself empathic (developed from being raised in an abusive home) and it makes me usually feel completely fatalistic or maybe the word is zen. but sometimes i still get indignant at injustice, angry at arrogance and meanness, and crushed under any obvious evil.

the knowing of others' issues and even ones' own at a very deep and intuitive level, does not provide utopia. it provides sadness borne of the realization that knowledge of WHY humans act a certain way doesn't make them stop wanting to act like that. evil exists independently of self-awareness and sometimes in conjunction with it.
but evil just doesn't go away whether it's visible or whether it's hidden.

it's the human condition. man's inhumanity to man. the only great beauty is the rare soul who marches on through it all with grace and aplomb. i have yet to meet someone i see this in, with total and unfailing determination.

my vote is that total anarchy and chaos would reign in the event something like what you describe ever came to fruition. can you imagine walking past a rapist? you'd treat them differently just from KNOWING. if no pre-cog existed, who could stop them from killing because they're pissed at everyone knowing their life? or from committing suicide? the population would exterminate itself.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 21st, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hmmmm

Not a bad idea....I really liked it the first time I heard it....when it was called The Borg Collective on Star Trek. :)

Kidding aside, to what extent would you know other people's thoughts?
Do the characters get the feelings and experiences *immediately* upon other experiencing them or would it be delayed? If it's immediate, I'd think people would evolve into a single being.
Each physical person would be like a brain cell for the new being.

Upside...no wasting money subscribing to newspapers(we're all all-knowing)
Heck, you wouldn't even have to go to the movies...as soon as the author thinks up the story, you've got it! (the ultimate SPOILER...you can't be surprised :)
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