This article discusses some of my thoughts on strategy for how people can overcome individual freedom in the face of a Big Brother society.
The Big Brother society I am thinking of is where the State knows all. The common idea on how to combat this is through privacy rights. If we preserve our right to privacy, the thinking goes, the Big Brother, know-it-all State won’t be an issue.
The problem, or one of many problems, with this line of thinking is that it is the job of the State to preserve the privacy rights in question. The State is a collective entity with a motive to improve its own power and a lack of incentive to empower or protect other actors.
Another problem is that a free market cannot flourish with excessive privacy. A free market requires free information. This brings us to an alternative strategy.
Instead of expending effort to hide our own information we should work to monitor Big Brother. In the case that we work to hide information while Big Brother pursues learning information we are missing out on benefits from mimicry, while Big Brother gets those benefits because it can still copy our innovation. In economics, technology can be advanced in two ways: Innovation or mimicry. Mimicry is cheaper.
In the case where we try to observe Big Brother instead of trying to hide our own information, we are still innovating but we also now gain benefits from copying Big Brother. While this approach sacrifices our privacy, it does in the long run allow that we will approach parity or equality with the power of Big Brother, ceteris paribus.
I’ll conclude with a concrete example of this in application. This article from CNN talks about how we should embrace a Big Brother police state because extreme surveillance can reduce crime. One knee-jerk conservative, libertarian or individualist reaction might be to say that they shouldn’t do this because it violates individual privacy. In this case, instead of trying not to be face-scanned we can just face-scan the State right back! Now you know who they are and they know who you are, as opposed to the other case in which you don’t know who they are and they may or may not know who you are.