We got a comment through the Copiosis Social Group on Facebook. It sparked an interesting conversation. Here’s what the person wrote (edited for brevity):
I introduced Copiosis to a libertarian friend. She likes it in theory but had a privacy concern about the algorithm. Her exact words were, “I don’t think I want an algorithm knowing everything I do.”..
She’s [also] a Christian and was concerned that Copiosis provide[s] a temporal reward for every good action, therefore precluding genuine charity.[Getting] a temporal reward, might change the internal incentives for moral behavior. You do [things] not because it’s the right thing to do but because you get NBR. That’s a problem.
Some, like this person, find privacy concerns with Copiosis’ algorithm. It’s a legit concern given today’s world. But those concerns fall apart in the New World Order that is Copiosis.
Let’s look at the privacy concern in detail. Next week, we’ll examine the spiritual issue.
The right to privacy
Good reasons bolster why people expect privacy today. Probably top of the list is that if some know what you do in your own time, that information getting out can harm you. You could lose your job. Find yourself socially excluded. You may even face violence and, possibly, imprisonment.
We’ve seen over and over how such things happen. So fearing your private life made public has merit these days.
These days, your livelihood depends largely upon you doing what others are doing. Usually in doing that, you do it for someone else. Typically that’s your employer. Find yourself outside mainstream ideas, values or morals, and you risk everything. That’s because income you get working for that person supports everything. Without it, you lose everything. And if your employment potential falls to zero, you lose even more.
That’s why whistleblowing carries so much risk despite today’s whistleblower protections. Even with those protections, states and organizations can create charges which overcome such protections, leaving people doing what’s right at extreme risk, personally and professionally.
Not long ago, being homosexual brought extreme risk. Not only could a gay person lose their livelihood, they could lose their freedom and their lives. A little farther back in time, being black carried similar risks. Harboring communist ideals during the McCarthy Era often equated to social and professional suicide.
What’s interesting about all these examples is many times those persecuting minorities for out-of-the-mainstream ideas or behaviors often held similar ideas or practiced similar behaviors. How many times have Christian leaders, who condemn homosexuality, been discovered to be gay themselves, for example?
So protecting one’s privacy in a world where your livelihood depends on your employability makes total sense. Everyone should enjoy privacy rights under those conditions. Today, most do.
Is your privacy really secure?
But are such protections really there when you need them? Witness, for example, US government attempts to spy on its own citizens. Were it not for a whistleblower, that program likely would be still happening. It may be happening still! We can’t know because of state secret clauses which protect clandestine state activities.
The government holds no monopoly on outing people’s private lives. The news often features stories where what people do in private gets exposed. Sometimes spurned lovers or family members do it. Sometimes, strangers do it to other strangers using social media. Then people’s private information goes on the internets in a process called “doxing”.
Speaking of social media, big data is big business. It makes companies a ton of money. But that’s not all. Algorithms running today, right now, not only monitor everything you do on the internet. They also can predict, with astounding accuracy, your future actions. From those predictions, they can figure out more about you than you likely want people knowing.
The point is, people’s privacy already faces exposure. The internet let the genie out of the bottle. And we all should expect more exposure as technology advances.
For example, pretty much everyone these days owns a video camera small enough to take anywhere. Network bandwidth capacity increasingly enables sharing user-created video. Authorities access that content right alongside friends and family.
It’s not too far fetched imagining a world where people, connected to the network, broadcast their lives 24/7. And while live audiences lap up everything users push so do the authorities. In other words, your privacy in the near future, may not be as private as you imagine.
Very little privacy: good?
Ubiquitous surveillance needn’t create Orwellian outcomes. Everyone could benefit from less privacy. Such developments could increase safety and prosperity.
We all share more in common than that which divides us. We know, for example, certain medical or mental conditions exist among millions of people. Why should those conditions be private, when knowing such information could benefit all kinds of things, including removing stigmas associated with such conditions? Same goes for life style choices, personal values and characteristics.
Which brings us to Copiosis and its algorithm.
The Copiosis algorithm is just a math formula tied to a software program. Its only function: calculate how much Net Benefit Rewards people get.
It can’t “know” anything other than what people feed it. People feeding it don’t know anything about you either. They don’t know what you do in private. They just input algorithm variables the public gives them. The algorithm uses those variables in calculating NBR.
An algorithm with no brain
But people you benefit, or people witnessing you benefit someone else do know something about you. Your co-workers, neighbors, family members will make most declarations on your actions. So it’s not the algorithm knowing your actions, it’s people who know you. What do they know?
They see what you do. Let’s say you help someone clean their home. Perhaps, for example, they injured themselves or they’re sick.
Let’s say in additional to helping this person, you also abuse your spouse. No one knows this but you and your spouse. This person whose home you clean doesn’t know anything about this. All they know about you relates only to cleaning their home.
So when they declare what you did, and you confirm it, you get a nice NBR distribution. Meanwhile, your aggression towards your spouse remains private. Today, decent chances exist that your spousal abuse behavior remains unknown. Your spouse likely tells no one for many reasons. One of which might be that she can’t afford to leave you.
So unless someone files a declaration, the algorithm remains ignorant about you and your spouse. It can’t go after your private activities. You get to keep beating your spouse while doing good things in your neighborhood, for better or worse.
Empowered people will tell
But since Copiosis differs wildly from today, the likelihood your spouse keeps your secret matches that of someone getting struck by lightening.
After all, she doesn’t depend on your NBR. She, like you, also gets her necessities at no cost. That includes housing and healthcare. Doing virtually anything will create NBR income for your spouse. Threats of more violence might carry little weight given your spouse can leave you with little or no negative outcomes or effort, especially if she notifies authorities, or seeks help from friends.
In this scenario then, why would your spouse stick around? Likely she would not.
Given all that came before Copiosis – scandals, #metoo and such – seems your spouse would feel it her duty to let the world know about you. Were she to make a declaration on your reputation account about how you treated her, she’d serve her community by letting other women know about you, for better or worse.
But what’s the worse? For a time, people might shun you. They may not want to support you with their necessities. Your landlord might not want you living there. Your co workers might not want to work with you. But all these things could blow over in time.
The world gets better
Or…once your spouse filed her declaration, you could own what you did. You could ask for help, get it and chart a new path. You could become a better person. Better for you, for your next spouse, and for any children you might raise.
So is you getting outed as a spouse abuser good or bad?
You might even go on to tell your story in a way that helps other people suffering from what made you a spousal abuser. You could help many, many people that way. That would net you a lot of NBR. That NBR stream would continue so long as those who benefit from what you offer continue benefitting. Indeed, their spouses could benefit from your act too. So could their children. The numbers you help could create for you a HUGE NBR stream.
So while your spouse’s declaration may temporarily inconvenience you, should you become a better person in the process, you could create for yourself a brand new, more luxurious, more rewarding life.
Few take that path
The same could happen for anyone in similar conditions. Today, such a story doesn’t happen that often. That’s because so few who know what people do privately keep quiet. Their livelihoods – and in some cases, their lives – depend on their silence.
Not so in Copiosis. In Copiosis people find themselves freer than ever before. In that freedom they might choose acts which create benefit. People come hard-wired that way. Their choices might make you or someone else temporarily uncomfortable. But in the long run, the entire world improves from their actions.
And instead of today, where people quietly praise, or outright condemn brave acts taken by abuse survivors or whistleblowers, in Copiosis such people’s acts are more than talked about. They’re rewarded handsomely. In that way Copiosis and the algorithm inspires more such acts, making such acts commonplace, until they’re no longer commonplace because nothing goes on requiring such bravery.
Does a dumb algorithm really pose a risk to people’s privacy? Or do people do that? We argue people do that. But that “risk” people fear has more to do with living in today’s world.
In Copiosis little risk comes from privacy invasion. Looked at it from a net benefit perspective, things you do in private might offer opportunities for you to help a lot of people, with you getting rich in the process.
That makes the algorithm and our way of rewarding people for what they do, pretty awesome. That’s why we know the Net Benefit Algorithm offers the best way to run human societies.