Peering into the Post-Privacy World

Dr. Keith WittEthical, Perspectives, Science & Technology, The Daily Evolver, Values, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 3 Comments

Today Jeff talks with integral psychotherapist Dr. Keith Witt about the arising of big data and its effect on our individual and collective psyches. They share their insights on the fascinating new book, Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.

Keith and Jeff discuss:

  • How technology (LR quadrant) and culture (LL quadrant) power evolve in tandem.
  • How we deceive ourselves and each other about about sex and self-image — and how we get real.
  • How transparency normalizes previously marginalized behavior, in a good way (as Dr. Keith says, “The standard of, ‘Would I do this act if everyone was watching?’ adds a whole new dimension to moral development!.
  • How to bring discriminating wisdom to  today’s world of fake (and true) news.

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Stay tuned for new LIVE episodes of The Daily Evolver on Integral Live, every Tuesday and Thursday at 1 PM MST (12 PM EST, 3 PM EST)

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Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Jeff Salzman

About Jeff Salzman

Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.


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    What disturbs me about the loss of privacy is that privacy is not only about the desire to hide things that may be better revealed. That is just one small “downside” to privacy. Every essential thing in this universe has it’s minor apparent “downsides” Privacy is a beautiful thing and is ESSENTIAL for many other aspects of our lives. When we ask ourselves “would I do this if I knew everyone was watching”…. the answer always depends on what it is we’re wanting to keep private and the reasons. For example, a person who wants to pick someone’s pocket would probably not do so if they knew there was a video camera on them….If what we wanted was an intimate moment with our partner, the answer would still be no! In addition to this, most of us naturally modify our actions when others are watching because we understand that our actions could be very easily misunderstood/misconstrued (unintentionally or intentionally)…potentially leading to all kinds of chaos (use your imagination). And of course there are many different levels of potential privacy loss that run from “relatively benign”, such as surveillance cameras in very public places….all the way to the tracking of someone’s every move…via cameras everywhere…facial recognition technology…etc…and all of the serious dangers that go along with that extreme level of data collection. All evidence indicates (to me anyway) that human beings are nowhere near being able to process and handle this degree of other people’s private details appropriately (they would really have to be Gods in order to do so)….and really, I get the feeling we’re going down this road toward no-privacy “just because we can”. It’s easier (not to mention “profitable”) to develop new technologies, and sell them as “necessary control” by playing on whatever fears necessary to gain acceptance of them, than it is to actually deal with our human problems on a human level. I often think if we had never started heading down this “avoidance” road, we would have far fewer problems, and thus, far less need for technological, privacy-invading solutions.

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    I left my first comment above after only 2 or 3 minutes, and now I’m only 8 and a half minutes in, and I’m finding I need to let off some more steam! Puh-leeez guys! I really like you two, but you are missing a HUGE part of the privacy picture. Loss of all privacy is NOT evolutionary, and if it’s inevitable in a post modern society, then we are in some serious trouble. I sure hope (and believe) you’re wrong about that. Continued loss of privacy is NOT a step forward, but potentially a step toward hell on Earth. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask…even beg…you to step outside that box in which you’re thinking and consider all of the necessary aspects to privacy that you seem to have forgotten all about. Please pick up a book or two that expands on all of the many reasons and the necessity for a certain level of privacy. The idea that we need data to tell us if we’re normal is preposterous. I won’t try to say that no one has ever been minimally helped out of some shame via such data, but I WILL say that there were MUCH HEALTHIER WAYS to help them without any need of such data. This type of argument is so bogus it’s scary. Of course children tell lies out of sense of shame….and we have all done just fine throughout the course of human history regardless. They grow up. They learn what it feels like to lie….they learn the feeling of shame through experience…and that guides them forward toward finding healthier ways of handling themselves. What the #$%*! are we going to do when we start robbing children and everyone else in this world of these natural experiences? Privacy invasion is nothing less than a dominator tactic. I can’t believe I’m hearing you two speak as if “it’s all good”….. as if we will eventually “evolve” into beings who will just sit around and blurt out all kinds of random thoughts…..and burp…and fart….and shit….and have sex in the streets….because “why not?…. “it’s normal!”….”I’ve got nothing to hide!” And of course our random thoughts, and our burps, and our farts, and our shit, and our style of lovemaking will be analyzed and added to “big data” so that we can all have access to the fabulous mind numbing data of our “behavior under scrutiny” instead of having to live our poor little lives feeling free and safe to live and breathe and explore and grow without so-called “experts” reassuring us that we’re normal! Something serious does not compute here. Keith, I understand that you’re a therapist, and maybe this is the reason you seem to be advocating for loss of privacy as a “helpful tool” for people who are afraid they’re not normal…Maybe you have a skewed idea of the size of that particular problem…maybe it’s smaller than you think, and maybe there are other ways of dealing with it. And just so you know….if I, as a woman, wanted to watch porn, I would do so without any shame whatsoever….and would probably learn from that experience whether it was conducive to my overall well-being. I managed to cope just fine without any “reassurance” from “big data” and I believe everyone could….and really, unless one has that massive data in front of them and can completely comprehend what it is they’re looking at, they’re only taking the word of the specific person delivering that “reassurance” anyway! So why bother collecting the data in the first place? I find it extremely difficult to believe that this is really a good “excuse” for the violation of normal healthy boundaries. I’m going to attempt to listen to the rest of this and hope that I won’t need to post a THIRD comment! Love you guys…but you’re wrong on this one.

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    Jesus! I have to go to bed and can’t listen to any more of this anyway. If it doesn’t matter what the “data” says about what’s “normal”…. if “healthy” is the goal….then why do we need to collect data on peoples sex lives? And how is this data collected? If people are offering this information freely, how do you know it’s truthful?….and if this data is collected in some more “covert” manner (I wouldn’t put it past our current systems) then 1. how do you know that the subjects are truly unaware and thus behaving naturally with no influence (subtle or otherwise) by the “data collectors” (who should be studied themselves to determine all of their “true” motivations)…and 2. how do you know that these “data collectors” are accurately interpreting what it is they observe? I’m thinking about your comment on the body language of children….for example the eyes going down and the body slumling….My God! People who believe they can accurately read body language drive me crazy! These things may generally be true of a child hiding emotion and “may” indicate shame, but what if it can also actually mean something entirely different as well? I can think of many occasions of my own effort to hide emotion that has nothing to do with shame, but rather an effort not to verbally cut someone a new one! (boss…aquaintance…anyone who I know either couldn’t handle it, or who would be hurt by it, or who might feel threatened by it) Human relations are too damned complicated to think that we can ever know what’s going on in their heads without them actually verifying by way of their own words. It’s arrogant to believe otherwise. I’m only cutting YOU guys a new one, because I know you can handle it. Thanks for listening…lol 🙂

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