April 21, 2024

No privacy in a transhumanist future, says former presidential candidate

An old-fashioned concept

What would life be like in a transhumanist future? Upgrading from Humanity 1.0 to Humanity 2.0 would involve unpredictable changes in social life, some of them major. In a recent interview one transhumanist who has thought more deeply about this speaks about the antiquated notion of privacy. Zoltan Istvan, who ran for US President in 2016 for the Transhumanist Party, said in an essay last year that there won’t be any need for it:

Privacy is a relatively new concept in history, and while it might have served the wealthy for a few thousand years, it’s not a long term phenomenon. Machine intelligence doesn’t need to be so disconnected. It will discard with privacy. You’re seeing that already with how much tech is making people’s lives so much less private. Transparency will create a society of trust, openness, liberty, and most importantly, safety.

Technology is currently available which makes brain implants plausible. Istvan speculates that “These brain-to-machine interfaces will likely eventually lead to the hive mind, where everyone can know each other's precise whereabouts and thoughts at all times, because we will all be connected to each other through the cloud. Privacy, broadly thought of as essential to a democratic society, might disappear.”

In fact, he says, it is already disappearing, through participation in social media, ubiquitous camera surveillance, and linking up data banks. “I'm hopeful it will, if disappearing privacy trends continue their trajectory, and if technology continues to connect us omnipresently (remember the hive mind?). We will eventually come to a moment in which all communications and movements are public by default.”

All communications? What about passwords to your bitcoin account? Ah yes, says Istvan, we’ll need special police to keep our brains from being hacked by cybercriminals. “The biggest need in the future will be cyber security coders, who will create ways to protect people that are basically interfacing directly with the web with their mind.”

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