Why is this Important?
I’d like to continue discussing human rights as super powers. It’s the idea of marrying trends and progress in sync with Western values and globalization with where how we evolved from 1776 in terms of how we perceive ourselves and our rights as individuals in contemporary times. I realized we needed, not only the language to describe our individual rights in light of how we live and behave now, but also discussing what it means for the future to avoid a potential catastrophe in what it means to protect individual rights and sovereignty.
To come up with an exhaustive list of why our rights are of the utmost importance in contemporary times and how they are threatened would be extensive. The society we live in has created, for lack of a better illustration, a room. In the office building that is Western society, we’ve discovered a black hole of an empty room. Its vastness is unknown, but we know that there’s a nugget of gold and that we need to find it. We’re continually facing vast uncertainty and risk regarding how to protect our current ourselves from our future selves. The gold nugget of protection is the constitution with the Bill of Rights and its critical components of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Given the current global pandemic, health care has increasingly become part of this equation by protecting your individual sovereignty and not allowing harm to come upon you. But who provides that protection? Even if a governmental entity promised it, how could they fulfill the obligation? Let’s not think too deeply about that one in particular. We’re striving toward our rights around health care, but in delivering it as a promise, it’s not a necessary component yet.
What is an Individual?
If we’re going to accept any of the premises of freedom, we have to define an individual as one who consciously controls himself/herself. Existence in a society means the ability to choose and every choice factors into the evolution of your life.
Choice is your individual sovereignty because it defines the being, which will continue to exist and go through the world.
The Sum of Our Choices
We all know companies and governments can track your actions with behavioral tracking software or surveillance that produces data about you to create a profile, which becomes an extension of you. Suppose you bought a house, business, and government entities track the fact that you made a purchase, and based on all the data that went into that purchase, they make predictions about your future behavior. Remember, without you; they cannot make those specific predictions.
Savvy individuals realize we are losing control of personal data and have applied protections as a reaction to behavior surveillance. The more your virtual and global data footprint expands, the more surveillance of your life grows prevalent, and predictions about your life will proliferate.
One of the key foundational pieces of any new society or future society is to remember that there is no society without the individual. If we don’t protect ourselves as individuals, we lose autonomy and our ability to choose whether we lose that autonomy will be quickly lost as well.
We need to have a Bill of Rights that makes it so hard for any government, even outside of our own governments, for any big businesses, any hackers or thieves, to be able to access or surveil individuals without their knowledge. If so, it would be severely punishable. You should be able to have a value structure for being able to accept the price that you would be exchanging your data for, and each data point created based on you must be reported into a central repository for all entities. These are just brainstorming ideas. I don’t know to what extent we need to get to.
To return super powers to individuals, there are fewer and fewer ways that any individual can do much. But what we can do is make it so difficult for any one entity to bypass these rules that it becomes a formidable mountain to climb to steer them away quickly and at least impede any tyrannical types of power that could grow monolithic.
The Self as Property
It’s not necessarily the data sets that we create, but the idea of having super powers might be one of the aspects. It’s one of the major trends that I follow that concerns me the most. There are probably endless amounts of data points that we are constantly creating. The genius will be the person who can tie all of that back to you, and you’re the only one that can own it. It’s like a new form of property—that could be one way of thinking about it—that no one can own your property because you’re you, and you don’t have to prove that. It’s a self-evident truth. You are your own property. You own things as long as they don’t interfere with other people’s things or themselves. If you’re out in the open and you’re talking, your speech is yours until it interferes with someone else’s or something like that—I don’t know how that would all work. It’s something about the same laws we have now for some of the properties that exist and being able to tie it back to yourself as property.
Time and Property
One of the reasons, as well, that we might think of this as important is when we think about physics; it’s becoming more and more complicated, that time needs to not be a factor. So, not only is your life valuable because you live between 0 and 100 and all of the data points you create along the way—there used to be a concept of being dead and then things end, so intellectual property has a standard time before it expires, that kind of thing. But should we end up living for a long time, what does that mean? Do we always own our own IP? Do we always own our ideas? At what point do ideas become public domain? The idea of capital will change, too, so we may not even need IP to encourage innovation as much. There are a lot of different ways to think about this.
We’re going so fast in one direction that there’s not a static document that at least attempts to capture what is self-consciousness and what is worth protecting about that, and why do we have individual sovereignty and what does individual sovereignty imply, sort of like we find truths to be self-evident? If we were to bring Thomas Jefferson and all of the other founders back into the room, how would we rewrite this in modern times to say, “We find these truths to be self-evident,” and not, “Facebook does not own your data,” or “You can’t make a clone based on my DNA,” without a lot of stuff happening before that?
Acceleration of Information
Anybody can throw up a website; anybody can offer a service. I used a service today that compressed an image within five seconds on a website I’ve never used or heard of before. If you rewind the clock 100 years and say I had a painting that I needed to resize and reframe, I would have to walk into town. I would have an exchange with a framer or a person who does that, and we would carry out a business transaction. With free transactions and costs aren’t immediately apparent. People like me throw up websites without even thinking about legal implications. There are no set protections for all of that. But people still use terms and services, privacy policies, and standard blank templates that, if you think about it, no one’s going to read that stuff. Even if you share with your users every little bit of your website and how it works, no one actually knows if it’s accurate.
Sometimes, when you accept terms of service, it’s at the most inconvenient moments.
For example, if you’ve just been in a car wreck and you have to download Google Maps to see where you’re located. Before you can even use it, sometimes they have little things pop up, or even just by using the app or service itself, you’ve agreed to certain things that because you’re in an accident, you don’t care what they say. There’s no way to monitor that, and that is a scenario where those kinds of things should be simplified because as long as we’re in a globally competitive environment, we can’t afford to impede innovation. So, we need to rebalance the expectations on the individual user to be a lot less because you may have an IQ of 165, but you’re not going to stop to read Facebook’s terms of service because you want to look at pictures of your family.
They’ve crossed into this lane that’s measured as a utility, and you can call it that, but I think we need to think of utilities in a way where they can’t extort individuals because baked into the super powers of rights and individual sovereignty, you couldn’t think of crossing the line of the individual. It would reward people who are extremely innovative and will do all of these sorts of things correctly, and it will discourage malicious people. That’s the intent.
The minimal effort involved is key because setting up large institutions to control these things takes time, and nobody has time. We’re all saying the same thing: There’s a lack of clear foresight about what it’s going to mean to be an individual in the coming years. If we know what we can decide as a country or as a global human race on acceptable things, things move more quickly and put those things to rest that would get things moving faster. Maybe some companies go out of business, but to have those distinctions made now would be good for the world so that as we continue to progress, there’s less incentive to think about going those ways.
Super Powers Think Tank
The idea that we really need to think about the future and bake that into the current situation requires the brightest minds in the world to convene people from genomics, people from silicon valley, and tech startups to physicists, to other kinds of science that maybe we don’t even understand. Philosophers, too, until we know what “God” is, then we don’t really know where these truths we find self-evident come from.
[End of Recording 00:22:57]