A Predator of Information

Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.

♪ Secret Secret, I've got a Secret ♪

30 March 2017 0:11 AM (society)

Come muse, let us sing silently of secrets. I am not particularly devoted to privacy, digital or otherwise. This comes as a surprise to people because many of my actions and stances are those that privacy activists would take.

It is true, I do not care for centralized services. I like to disentangle myself from 10¹⁰⁰ whenever possible. I refuse to use Countenance nor do I ask the Summingbird's dam to carry messages to my friends.

The privacy advocate does these things because they do not want to be tracked and they do not want want people to see their communications. I do them because I have an extreme dislike for centralized architectures. If a system cannot be decentralized and either run complete peer-to-peer or federated I (unlike a certain Mr. Marlinspike, may all traffic to or from him be dropped) am not interested. Decentralized systems with multiple poles are more resiliant and they provide more variation. A decentralized system also insists on a certain level of transparency and openness of the protocol so that there will be more clients and more ways of presenting it. It also provides a barrier against one actor deciding to migrate a service or protocol in ways that incorporate customer control or illegitimate restrictions.

You might wonder then why I have set up HTTPS, why I am interested in cryptography, why I use OTR, and why I use GnuPG? While I may or may not have anything to hide, I know other people do. I view that and running a Tor node and other activities as a public service. The more encrypted traffic there is the less legitimate reason there is to zero in on any individual who encrypts something.

Also cryptography and the software associated with it is just plain fun and interesting to work on. I don't have any need for Darkgit (and seeing the SecuShare people make their project difficult to contribute to by trying to move development discussions out of the open has convinced me it's pretty bad idea), it's still entertaining to try and figure out how to do it and work out the details.

I am fairly lucky in that I don't have many secrets and the ones I have aren't particularly important. If they were all revealed it would cause me some awkwardness and a bit of embarrassment, but nothing that would last for very long. The only secrets that I must keep are the ‘trivial’ secrets of passwords, credit card numbers, private keys. They don't serve to give someone information about me, they just allow someone to impersonate me.

Now, I don't advocate any sort of encryption ban because that would be stupid and unenforcible. Nor do I advocate people giving up on encryption or anything like that, but I do have a very strong bias toward the idea of a world with no secrets at all. Jeremy Bentham (the founder of utilitarianism!) thought privacy was in fact a social ill. I don't necessarily agree with him, but I don't necessarily agree that privacy is a definite social good either.

So, the first obvious argument in favor of privacy is the research that people who know they are being surveilled behave differently. They become more risk averse and stressed. They become less creative, productive, and helpful. One might ask whether these effects are caused by the surveillance itself or the asymmetry. It's not beyond possibility that being watched by a black box that gives you no idea what it's doing with the information and over which you have no say is different from being watched by a transparent box that has to account to you for everything it looks at and what it does with the information. There has been, to my knowledge, no research done to decide which of these two is the case. David Brin's “The Transparent Society” comes down clearly on the second term of the disjunction and argues for sousveillance as the appropriate counterpart to surveillance in a democratic society.

There are of course people who have secrets whose revelation would cause much worse than awkwardness and embarrassment. The classic example is someone in a sexual minority whose regional or social group is religiously conservative. Their ‘outing’ could result in anything from their family disowning them to someone trying to kill them. There are also people like >this gentleman who was subjected to a campaign of harassment, discrimination, and finally expelled from a development community in which he made his livelihood over his participation in a Fantasy-inflected BDSM subculture. (This is an example of why I am so utterly contemptuous of ‘We must not tolerate intolerance!’ The people who ran the campaign of harassment doubtless did think he was misogynistic and intolerant and that they were protecting the vulnerable members of their community.)

There is a counterargument that is somewhat compelling in principle. We know from recent history that the wide acceptance and ongoing civil rights of gay and transgender people were the product of wide visibility and normalization. Of course having everyone of a minority coordinate to be ‘out’ at the same time is infeasible and some minorities may be too small to get the kind of wide-spread visibility required. At the start of any attempt at widespread normalization, consequences for those participating could be quite dire, even more so if there is a strong church in the area or government institutions of violent repression. One certainly cannot blame people for wanting to stay hidden. On the other hand, if everyone in a group hides, then things are especially bad for any who are revealed.

Some people may, also, be targets of harassment. They could, quite legitimately want to keep their personal contact information private. This seems to be a thing that happens to an unfortunate number of women online. A more trivial example might just be wanting to keep one's email address from getting out too broadly to avoid spam. I could imagine a world with no secrets where mapping software and online calendars makes it easy for people to waylay one on the street. This is not desirable.

I would also worry about the ability of children to keep non-trivial (and trivial) secrets from their parents. I think it's very important for children to be able to access material that their parents do not want them to have (to the point where I think any well-functioning state must provide a means for children to circumvent parental censorship). If the parents can just find out and punish them for it the whole point is rather lost. There might be similar arguments made for children being able to communicate with people without their parents' knowledge. I don't know if children generally have a legitimate need to go to physical places without their parents' knowledge, but I wouldn't rule it out without some thought. All of these examples are only necessary in the case of defective parents, however. There's no legitimate need for a parent to censor their child's access to information, for example.

Access to medical records or personal history could lead to employment or other forms of discrimination or differential pricing, though the Affordable Care Act already disallows some of that for institutions that have all medical information, so secrecy may not be necessary. Similarly, I would like to see criminal convictions removed from the record after a sentence is served with a prosecutor required to prove a strong need to retain them for them to remain. Sealing or removing records rather goes against the whole idea of removing secrecy. This removal may not be useful. Ban the Box (the campaign to remove the checkbox on the front page of employment applications asking about past convictions) resulted in more black applicants simply not being called back. Similarly, a law in Washington banning employers from making credit checks penalized black and young applicants. Sealing records of convictions may have the effect of simply penalizing demographic groups that have higher rates of criminal conviction.

There is also, of course, the secret ballot. Someone who is a political minority in their community might not vote their conscience if they feared reprisal.

I don't consider financial secrecy to be of any social utility. Being unable to trace ownership of resources is starting to cause serious political and financial problems. Trade secrets serve no legitimate purpose and legal protection for them should be scrapped.

Now, as I said, I don't propose that we go out and end secrecy for everyone forever right now. However, all of these examples of legitimate, non-trivial secrets are legitimized only by serious problems in society, mostly discrimination. Obviously we should fight against that, try to find ways to combat and lessen the impact of harassment. On a personal level, any time we find ourselves thinking of some trait that, if we were to find someone possessed it, we would be tempted to try to push them out of a community or keep them from some position, we really ought to fix that. Even if we still keep secrets, a world where we don't have to cannot help but be better than one where we do.

7 responses

  1. Digital says:

    On most points, I agree!

    It'd be rather nice to have a world where keeping secrets was optional, say, you could hide planning a birthday surprise for a friend, but you had the freedom of choice.

    Where putting your information in the public didn't almost guarantee you'd wind up in some database that'd eventually could be misinterpreted and used against you because the government ignored context and held their own secrets.

    And, as you mention, where minorities and oppressed aren't forced into privacy for reasons ranging from avoiding harassment to saving their own lives and/or lives of others.

    Though the challenge is interesting, I'd personally much rather not have to keep two identities just in case some employer looks at some context-less applicant database, pokes my name into Google, or whatnot, and draws the wrong impression. ("Oh, he's interested in $TOPIC, I know some who are interested in $TOPIC for $BAD_REASONS, therefore he holds the same $BAD_REASONS.") From what I understand, you hold a similar degree of separation for similar reasons.

    ----------
    ('hr' tags aren't allowed, so here's a spacer)

    That said, as a minor matter, I feel you might be confused regarding parenting. All of this is in my own biased opinion (as is everything I say).

    Ideally, just as parents are responsible for keeping their guns safe from their kids until they understand what they do, they'd keep the Internet safe until they understand more of it.

    Unfortunately, the Internet isn't just knowledge. There's risks with making yourself publicly, permanently known and interacting with strangers, and you might not yet understand the consequences at a young age.

    For example, I'd argue my parents did well regarding electronics.

    For a short while, I wasn't even allowed to plug and unplug things from the wall. But as I learned more about electronics and furthered my understanding, they let me do more things, including plugging together chains of devices, operating an electric heater, wielding a soldering gun (welding metal, effectively) even for mains-connected circuits, wiring an entirely new 240 to 120 volt AC circuit in the shed, up to taking apart a high-voltage CRT TV. (Though I'm not sure how they would've reacted if they had been around when I nearly electrocuted myself with it - I learned quickly! And I was not punished afterwards.)

    If I didn't understand 240 AC could kill me, if I didn't know about taking precautions around shutting off power first, I don't think I should've been allowed to rewire the shed. But I learned, and I was allowed.

    I'd propose a similar hands-on model with the Internet - limit at first until one gains a better understanding, also allowing one to develop their own thought processes independent of whatever the most popular opinions are, but, crucially, relaxing restrictions as their kids develop, letting them pursue what they're interested in.

    Just as a kid that shows interest in guns might learn to shoot a BB-gun, then a pistol. Or a kid interested in construction equipment might start with toy models and graduate to operating big rigs (with similarly gradually-reduced supervision).

    In short, I'd argue that dumping the entire Internet upon one's kids when they're born is irresponsible, but it'd be as irresponsible to hide opposing viewpoints and obstruct learning.

    I think the latter is what you actually oppose, and this is what you meant. If so, I agree.

    I may have left things out, but my Electric Devices class calls and there's no Edit Comment option yet :)

  2. Azure says:

    Guns and electricity have the interesting problem that they can kill you and are quite likely to do so if misused.

    The Internet does not have this property.

    If the worst thing likely to happen to children when they played with a power main was that they got a nasty sting, there would still be every reason to explain how electricity works to children and show them how to make good use of it, but there would be no particularly good reason to restrict anything.

    One can certainly come up with unlikely scenarios where children are harmed, indirectly, by learning something like finding a recipe for how to make improvised napalm and set themselves on fire, but in any plausible outcomes the child was harmed by easy access to something physically dangerous, not to knowledge.

    One might worry about a child coming to believe misinformation like conspiracy theories bogus medical claims, though it's hard to think about any particularly young child being interested in the claim that Janet Yellen is hiding all the inflation under her bed or that pumping ozone into your blood cures cancer. This is the worry I'd be inclined to give the most credence, but I haven't seen evidence to make me think it's worth worry about. I'm aware of people who were harmed by being deined information when young; I'm not aware of anyone who was harmed by being allowed to read anything they wanted when young and ran into something bad.

    Young children who encounter pornography will, in general go ‘Ewwwwwwwwww!’ and go somewhere else with great alacrity. (Unless the parents make abig deal out of it, then they might show it to their friends similar to how they might show a big or something else grotesque and of particular interest.) Older children who run into it may find it yucky or boring. They might like it, but in that case they were already predisposed to like it so there isn't really anything from which to protect them; one would merely want to make sure they have adequate instruction in politeness and appropriateness so they don't annoy others or make themselves appear boorish.

    I would also at least want to consider the potential harm possible through meeting unsavory people online (though my main point was related to consuming information rather than engaging in conversations.) It is true that people exist on the Internet who would ill-use children and do them harm, however the number seems to be very small.

    We know that ‘stranger danger’ was and continues to be a complete fiasco. The amount of fear parents had and instilled in their children that someone would seek to harm or sexually abuse them was grossly unjustified. We know that most children are murdered or sexually abused by people in their household or family members.

    We know that children were positively harmed by the attempts to protect them from strangers. They were no longer permitted to wander around a few mile radius of their home unsupervised as was common before the panic. Children were no longer members of their communities (though suburbanization is also to blame for this) and didn't wander around speaking to old men on their porches, shopkeepers, workers, and the like.

    Children, on average, would have been much better off if their parents had never tried to ‘protect’ them in this way.

    So, while there are people who would ill-use children on-line, the number seems to be small enough that it belongs in the same class of risk as an adult being killed while taking a bath. That's also not counting that I do think parents have at least some interest in whether their children are going to travel cross country or the like.

    I might worry about a child picking up coarse, vulgar, and illiterate habits of communication from keeping bad company, though this seem a touch petty. Yes, a child benefits a great deal by learning habits of politeness and learning the prestige dialect of their language. It can translate to actual money in a professional context and it can cause people to give their ideas more weight and consideration than if they talk like something 4chan threw up. However, code switching is a thing so while I might find certain registers rather unappealing, there's no harm done so long as they can transition into the others.

    This last consideration is the one that strikes me as the best consideration for some form of supervision, since it's easier to develop habits in youth than to work against them once one gets older. On the other hand, this also seems a prime example where the best way of dealing with this is to provide a good example in the home rather than restricting things. Empirically language registers in the home can be pretty durable, so I don't think I'd be worried.

  3. Digital says:

    You say We know many times.. yet I don't know most of what you're assuming I do. Do you have sources for how the attempts to protect were a net negative? (For obvious reasons I don't think there's well-researched sources for the pornography example)

    Not to argue the point, but because I'm clearly not well-informed and I'd like to better educate myself. I've not looked into any numbers as I've not before had reason to.

    To be fair, I am slightly biased from (over)hearing discussion on my Dad's side of the family. He has a sister (I think it's a sister, not sure) who works in the police force to investigate and file charges against sexual predators of kids.

    And obviously I'm biased from how I grew up, too. To me, my parents' efforts seemed helpful and I appreciate the steps they took; I avoided some regrettable choices. However, from what you've shared before, I know your experience significantly differs.

    I suppose I'm not really able to say more on this general topic I research more.

    ----

    The other aspect, good vs bad examples.. well.. I guess it's a bit trickier depending on the family.

    The Internet doesn't really have any natural limits to how fast you can interact other than time in a day. That's great.. usually.

    One would be hard pressed to always provide more good examples than one can find bad examples depending on how of a bar high you're trying to encourage. It's not like the Trending tab of YouTube or Facebook are shining examples (from my tiny sample-set, it seems the more popular a YouTuber, the more they swear).

    (Would you disagree with limiting a child's time on the Internet?)

    Arguably the Internet as a whole could use ways to encourage positive behavior rather than just isolating kids from the Internet and leaving the toxicity fostered by anonymity and in-person disconnection to the adults. I'd concur, and I'd think that's the harder problem that's worthwhile tackling.

    And, arguably, making sure to set adequate good examples for your kids with whatever appropriate correction (again, I know this is a personal subject) is a parenting responsibility. I dunno how to balance that with other social demands parents deal with (jobs, peer pressure critique for kids' behavior, etc). Kids are people too, and people aren't always naturally sweet little creatures.

    In short, ideally, I agree. However, I'm not sure how to attain these ideals in a non-ideal scenario without fixing society as a whole. Rather than making sweeping changes in one realm (privacy, Internet monitoring), I'd suggest focusing on all realms.

    Which.. I think you stated in the original post? I might be having a hard time distinguishing when you mean "we should work towards this ideal goal" versus "this must happen now regardless of other social matters."

    (Also, thank you for replying :)

  4. says:

    "Even if we still keep secrets, a world where we don't have to cannot help but be better than one where we do."
    Having secrets should be optional rather than mandatory, yes. This, I can agree with. But I feel people know themselves best, and if they decide "this privacy is best for me" no one should hold ill will against them if their privacy hurts no-one.
    Comment number one reminds me. Having the ability to have (countably) infinitely many different and unique personae online is important to me, and I suppose it could be important to some people offline too.

    "relaxing restrictions as their kids develop, letting them pursue what they're interested in."
    That's bullshit and that's censorship. The internet can free children from their families, and the plan I just quoted does its best to make sure children never develop freedom, by being indoctrinated by their parents before having real internet access.
    "In short, I'd argue that dumping the entire Internet upon one's kids when they're born is irresponsible"
    No. Anything other than that would be to try to mold a child instead of giving a child freedom to mold himself. Children are already an abused and disadvantaged category of people: to take the internet away from them (even in various gradations) would be to make their disadvantage greater.
    "It is true that people exist on the Internet who would ill-use children and do them harm, however the number seems to be very small."
    When I was a young teen I was quite glad for those "unsavory" people existing.
    "abused by people in their household or family members"
    It is sadly true that parents are often the class of people who seek to make children be in an inferior, less powerful class. Parents are selfish people, as evidenced by them choosing to have kids.
    "That's also not counting that I do think parents have at least some interest in whether their children are going to travel cross country or the like."
    If I was able to leave the country as a kid, many beatings would have been avoided. Children should be allowed to never see or talk to their parents again. Ideally they never should know who their parents are in the first place, and never seen them in their entire conscious life.
    "they talk like something 4chan threw up"
    Proper grammar and spelling are respected on some of 4chan's boards.

    "who works in the police force to investigate and file charges against sexual predators of kids."
    You mean to hurt kids? When the FBI shows up at your school to tell all the kids "sharing nudes is four felonies" do you think that helps kids?
    "(Would you disagree with limiting a child's time on the Internet?)"
    Yes. That's similar to (but less restrictive than) giving children a whitelist of people they're allowed to talk to.
    "toxicity fostered by anonymity"
    What the fuck? By toxicity do you mean honest, useful, intellectual, thought-provoking discussion? Anonymity allows people to focus on ideas and content instead of focusing on the people they talk to. If I was not allowed to be pseudonymous/anonymous as a kid, I'd have not used the internet at all. When anonymity is banned, the internet becomes like real life, and real life discussion is incredibly inefficient and prone to censorship.
    "Kids are people too"
    Correct, and they deserve all human rights.

    My childhood sucked, and I know so many people who had shit childhoods, and the thing we all have in common is that having had more freedom, more privacy, and less contact with blood-related family would've helped.
    And there's no such thing as a good parent: a child does not consent to being born, so a parent does something extremely evil just by choosing to have a kid.

  5. Digital says:

    At several points I noted my limiting bias; clearly, it's fairly strong. I appreciate that you (commenter #4) took the time to share your contrasting viewpoint.

    Please read the [Individual points] before responding to the [General reply]. I tried to consider everything you said as best I could.

    ----[General reply]

    I'm hesitant to argue for "remove parenting entirely", but, again, this is biased from my experience with a supportive mother and father. Not all have those, I know.

    Just as police officers and government officials are held to a higher standard, so are parents. And, likewise, just because they're held to a higher standard does not mean they're qualified for the role.

    Ideally (in my opinion), parents would beneficially educate their kids, encouraging development, providing a way for them to pursue their own growth without worrying about needing to get a job by age 3 just to survive.

    But, and this is crucial, I said ideally. The Real World™ is far from ideal. Society needs a better way to help children stuck with crap parents who don't follow their responsibilities without stripping all the potential benefits of a good upbringing.

    Commenter #4, I agree that privacy on the Internet and the Internet in general has great potential to help in situations of awful parenting, and I apologize for not adequately considering this in my own biased comments.

    That said, as much as people can and do suck, as much as the world can be hateful, downright horrible place, I wouldn't agree with effective global genocide by at once universal death-of-old-age. I don't know of a way to give children a choice to be born since there's no pre-existence that I know of. I personally want to work towards making the world a better place rather than calling it quits on all of humanity.

    ----[Individual points]

    Ideally they never should know who their parents are in the first place, and never seen them in their entire conscious life.

    If you're arguing for children to have all the responsibilities of life on them on the day of birth, for them to find shelter, food, education, a job, etc without any assistance.. I don't understand, and I apologize for not grasping what you meant (that's why I left this out of my general reply).

    "who works in the police force to investigate and file charges against sexual predators of kids."
    You mean to hurt kids? When the FBI shows up at your school to tell all the kids "sharing nudes is four felonies" do you think that helps kids?

    Pardon, I should've been more clear. I meant the FBI investigating adults who abuse children for sexual gain or otherwise. This includes parents who abuse their kids.

    And objectively abuse, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, not theoretical "watch out for the bogeyman ghost tales of caution to scare you away from interacting with strangers."

    I did not mean the FBI investigating or threatening kids. That's terrible.

    "toxicity fostered by anonymity"
    What the fuck? By toxicity do you mean honest, useful, intellectual, thought-provoking discussion? Anonymity allows people to focus on ideas and content instead of focusing on the people they talk to. If I was not allowed to be pseudonymous/anonymous as a kid, I'd have not used the internet at all. When anonymity is banned, the internet becomes like real life, and real life discussion is incredibly inefficient and prone to censorship.

    I apologize, I mixed up two concepts, and I appreciate you calling me out on this.

    As you state, anonymity does not cause toxicity.

    I meant to claim lack of negative consequences for bad behavior fosters toxicity. If there's no penalty for harassing someone and aggressively pushing for them to end their own life, that's a problem. In this scenario, if someone has a bad day, they have no reason to not shove all their frustration and anger out on someone innocent.

    Anonymity can even help encourage good behavior by allowing the oppressed to speak up in support of someone being harassed, letting them provide consequences for bad behavior.

    Anonymity is a tool, like the Internet itself, and it can be used for good and bad.

    I agree anonymity (including partial anonymity by means of multiple identities) should be allowed, and furthermore, encouraged when wanted. In this non-ideal society I myself make use of partial anonymity for different reasons (as you noted agreed with my remarks in comment #1). Internet anonymity's also been instrumental in overthrowing oppressive regimes in some nations.

    Toxicity by lack of penalty for bad behavior is a difficult problem that needs solved. I'd argue that bad parenting is a form of toxicity that lacks proper ways of being corrected.

    Anonymity is an orthogonal, separate argument to toxicity, and I apologize for confusing these.

    My childhood sucked, and I know so many people who had shit childhoods, and the thing we all have in common is that having had more freedom, more privacy, and less contact with blood-related family would've helped.
    And there's no such thing as a good parent: a child does not consent to being born, so a parent does something extremely evil just by choosing to have a kid.

    From what you've said, that makes sense. Society failed to deal with your parents when they didn't keep to their responsibilities as, well, parents (a likely hollow, if not loathsome word given your experience - I mean the objective concept of 'adult who raises child').

    There's no ideal parent, I'd agree there. Your experience sucked, to put it lightly, and so have many others (I know of a few who hate their own parents).

    I accept this.

    But, in my limited opinion, I'd argue there's degrees of less awful parents, and as my life is right now, I'd be sad to never have existed. If I wind up in a position of authority, my goal is to learn all that I can and make life better for the oppressed in whatever means I have (as a computer engineer in training, that could involve furthering censorship-resistant software).

    If I was non-consensually denied life by my parents deciding to never give birth to me, I could never work towards these goals of trying my darndest to make life better for other people.

    This does not discredit your experience. Life is not all happy roses and sunshine. I realize you're probably restraining words to be polite in your comment.

    ----[P.S.]

    As stated before, all of this is in my flawed, biased opinion. I'll gladly learn where I'm mistaken; I know I've got limits that cripple my critical thinking. I don't mean to offend with my naivety.

    I'm saddened that your experience sucked and as I continue to learn and gain experience, I honestly hope I can help push society away from more awful situations like yours towards a better life for all.

    Commenter #4, I hope that you read this (I know Tekuti currently lacks a reply notification mechanism) and find it an improvement over what I said before, even though I don't grasp the full picture yet.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your lengthy and detailed reply. I could've been more specific about many things.
    "If you're arguing for children to have all the responsibilities of life on them on the day of birth"
    Well, the world I want without parenting, I already assume is a world without capitalism, statism (government), or religion: in such a post-scarcity society, children would not be threatened by such responsibilities.
    "Anonymity is a tool, like the Internet itself, and it can be used for good and bad."
    Agreed, except I think anonymity is a state of being rather than a tool.
    "Toxicity by lack of penalty for bad behavior is a difficult problem that needs solved."
    As for this, I think good and bad have always been subjective. With true anonymity, mods are indeed required to make a place useful for discussion. In contrast, with pseudonymity, like on usenet, mods aren't needed, as kill files (ignoring) can be used to self-moderate what one reads.
    "But, in my limited opinion, I'd argue there's degrees of less awful parents"
    I don't disagree.
    "If I wind up in a position of authority"
    While your goals are just, to accept authority existing means to accept authoritarianism. This is a tangent, but yeah.
    "as a computer engineer in training, that could involve furthering censorship-resistant software"
    Interestingly enough, computers are the one thing that got me interested in the subject of accessibility. One day I thought "computers are wonderful, they can empower all people!" but then I thought about all the people for whom using computers is difficult. And that's propelled me into a lot of stuff.
    I hope that some day, people can automate all their chores and labors with their own robots, if they so desire.
    "If I was non-consensually denied life by my parents deciding to never give birth to me"
    While a person can't consent to that either, true, technically a nonexistent person was never in the position of being existent until they began to exist. It's a weird situation.
    "I could never work towards these goals of trying my darndest to make life better for other people."
    That's a genuinely good point that I think about sometimes. I'll explain something later.
    "I realize you're probably restraining words to be polite in your comment."
    No, I don't restrain anything! The internet is about being as honest as you want, and when I have discussion, I prefer maximum bluntness and honesty.
    "all of this is in my flawed, biased opinion."
    No, remember one thing, always. Your opinion is always the most important in the world.
    To me, mine is the most important. You can be open-minded while still having your own feelings.
    "offend"
    Also, offense is a choice. Receivers of information can choose to be offended or choose to disagree.

    What I said I'd explain later:
    I don't mean for people to never be born again, but that in order to pay back for having forced someone to be born, everyone should at every moment of their lifetime have the choice to die. The right to die is a mandatory part of the right to live: otherwise it's a responsibility to live, not a right to live.
    If suicide is easily available, then people not consenting to being born is a nullified problem.
    Of course, we want a world so good, no one feels enough pain to want to die.

    "Just as police officers and government officials are held to a higher standard, so are parents."
    I'd actually say that people have very low standards as for these things.

    If I missed something in this reply (I truthfully was replying sparsely to things rather than to every thing you wrote) that you want me to discuss more, do say so!

  7. Digital says:

    Pardon the very long delay for a reply... I got caught up in many things that I won't ramble about on Azure's blog :)

    I have read your entire comment; if I didn't specifically call something out, you can take it as implicit agreement. If you felt I overlooked something, feel free to let me know!

    And the […] excerpts of your quotes aren't meant to selectively cut out words, it's just to try to keep the comment from getting too unwieldy. If anyone else is reading this comment, please read the others first.

    Crossing fingers that I didn't mess up the HTML...

    Well, the world I want without parenting, I already assume is a world without capitalism, statism (government), or religion: in such a post-scarcity society, children would not be threatened by such responsibilities.

    In this further ideal world, I agree with you. I was thinking too short-sighted, pardon.

    As for this, I think good and bad have always been subjective. With true anonymity, mods are indeed required to make a place useful for discussion. In contrast, with pseudonymity, like on usenet, mods aren't needed, as kill files (ignoring) can be used to self-moderate what one reads.

    Understood! And I guess I had overlooked the degree of anonymity, too, allowing for self-regulation.

    Mastodon's approach is interesting by allowing communities to decide who to blacklist/whitelist on an instance level with anyone being able to host an instance... Theoretically, one could have anonymous (as much as technically possible) Mastodon instances that let you post without an account, using arbitrary IDs or (optionally) pseudonymous methods.

    While your goals are just, to accept authority existing means to accept authoritarianism. This is a tangent, but yeah.

    Don't worry, I'm not going to accept authority if I can avoid it :) The only place I've wanted to seek above-normal permissions is related to development/maintenance, e.g. modifying rules to block spambots.

    [insert tangent on society considering management positions as the end goal for engineers and others]

    Interestingly enough, computers are the one thing that got me interested in the subject of accessibility […]

    I agree! Done right, as you said, computers can bring a level of empowerment to folks that'd otherwise never get it. It's the done right part where folks need to step up, and I'm glad you're supporting this cause.

    (I've personally found computers able to help me make up for where I'm mentally lacking, a way to deal with hampered executive functioning - I forget the term the neuropsychologist used - by hyper-organizing and indexing, offloading whatever I can.)

    While a person can't consent to that either, true, technically a nonexistent person was never in the position of being existent until they began to exist. It's a weird situation.

    I agree, and I guess this delves into one's viewpoint on when consciousness begins. It'll be interesting where AI goes...

    (Though perhaps this discussion should be saved for a blogpost on consciousness, if Azure writes one someday.)

    No, I don't restrain anything! […]

    Understood!

    No, remember one thing, always. Your opinion is always the most important in the world. […] Also, offense is a choice. Receivers of information can choose to be offended or choose to disagree.

    Thank you. I'll try to keep this in mind.

    (I easily get confused by social expectations, norms, and how there's a degree of implicit communication that I have yet to understand let alone master. Some people I've interacted with require that or they repeatedly misunderstand me. But that's another tangent...)

    What I said I'd explain later: […] The right to die is a mandatory part of the right to live: otherwise it's a responsibility to live, not a right to live.

    I.. admit I can't say I agree with this for the non-ideal world we have now. But I can't disagree, either...

    I'm still thinking over my own motivations for life (currently, it's just helping other people, no longer having any self-motivation as of a few years ago), but I will try to come back to this once I can sort out my own feelings.

    Of course, we want a world so good, no one feels enough pain to want to die.

    I fully agree here.

    I'd actually say that people have very low standards as for these [political authority] things.

    ...yeah, unfortunately, I agree here. I think Azure's had some remarks on standards for social/government officers, too. Or it might've been someone else.

    If I missed something in this reply (I truthfully was replying sparsely to things rather than to every thing you wrote) that you want me to discuss more, do say so!

    I don't think you missed anything, and I appreciate your reply!

    I feel it's important for me to do my best to understand differing viewpoints to hopefully become a better, more sympathetic person, even if I can't directly help you or others.

    -----

    Again, apologies for the long delay. I was initially concerned I might respond in an unwittingly disrespectful way, or not give what you said adequate consideration, and in the end, as other things in life piled on, I wound up never getting back until now, holding on to an open browser tab for your comment all this time x.x

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