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Episode #186 ... Are we heading for a digital prison? - Panopticon (Foucault, Bentham, Cave)

2023-08-23 | 🔗

Today we talk about Jeremy Bentham's concept of the Panopticon. Michel Foucault's comparison to society in 1975. The historical role of intelligence as a justification for dominance. The anatomy of free will, and how a digital world may systematically limit our free will without us knowing it. 


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, everyone, I'm stephen west. This is philosophize. This thank you for everyone who supports the show on Patreon for an ad free version of the show go to patriot dot com, slash philosophize, this instagram of philosophize, this podcast, all one word: it's the last episode we ended by talking about generative, ai and the potential impacts it may have on society. How some philosophers think this could lead to an economic utopia? Others think it could lead to a panopticon, but there had to have been at least a few you out there. That heard the word panopticon and thought what in god's name is that and there's? No doubt somebody out there who know what the panopticon is, who thought? Why would anybody think this world, where Waiting for is going to be a prison, but by the end of the episode today, I'll try to explain why some philosophers think it's going to go that way, and I guess I want to start by saying that I realize a good portion of last episode was spent and to bring people up to speed on the state of generative ay. I right now
and I want to double down and say that I think all that context is necessary to understand the wider angle. Philosophical linz at this stuff can be viewed through. As I said, towards the end of last episode, I just think we're something fundamentally different than the medieval peasants that didn't have a hope in the world the seeing what was coming with the industry revolution part of the value of philosophy in this world that we're living in is that it can help. You see the broader historical trends that you're a part of so that you're, not someone who's just a hostage to them. I'm not trying to say anything too controversial and really just trying to echo the sentiment of socrates here that the examined life know continuing to ask better and better questions. This is something crucial if you want to survive in today's world, and I guess, let's continue that journey here by trying to understand how we fairly random idea from all the way back in the seventeen eighties actually applies to the world were living in right. Now, I'm I'm about asking the question: what would it look like if a philosopher sat down and applied that big brain of theirs to the task of trying to design the best prison that they could possibly come up with? What would that be?
and look like the philosopher that did this in the seventeen eightys was jeremy bentham and the idea for a prison he came up with was called the panopticon. Some important context to know about jeremy bentham, as it is doing its work during the time when rationality is being applied to everything in the world, but try to make a better. It was called the age of reason, after all, in terms of government economics, morality, everything was going to be made better when we use reason to design the way our institutions operate. That was the plan and for Jeremy Bentham. This idea went all the way down to the very architecture of the buildings that people do stuff in. He looks around him at the world that he's living in and he sees these prisons where the inmates are being treated horribly, filthy, living conditions, disease is rampant,
the guards at the prisons have to physically beat the prisoners to build, to keep them scared and in line bent the mass. The question is, are smarter way to be doing all this. Do we really need to be beating people to be able to keep them in line and when he comes up with, is to redesign the actual prison building his thinking as what, if we design a prison where these cells of the prisoners are in a circular, shaped forming a perimeter and then in the middle of that circle, is a giant tower. The can see in all directions, but then he says what, if through various different kinds shades on the windows of the cells, you could create a situation where someone standing in this tower in the centre of everything can see inside of the sale of every single prisoner, but the prince nurse would never be able to know what they are being watched. Her not think of two way meares in today's world same concept. What the architecture of this building inevitably create- is an environment where the prisoners always have to self regulate because of you
You never know for sure whether you're being watched or not, then you have to behave at all times as if you're being watched four jeremy bentham in the seventeen hundreds. This is great news, and not just when it comes to prisons, I mean it was certainly good for prisons, you know solely by changing the design of the building. You know I gotta have guard standing around watching everyone beating people. If they step out align now, people will essentially become their own guards. You turn the prisoners themselves. rules into part of the mechanism, that's imprisoning them, it's genius and its incredibly efficient as well. You don't even really have to be watching someone to keep them in line just the threat that someone could be watching is enough to get people to act in a totally different way. That's better for everyone. The even better news for bentham was that this design doesn't just apply to prisons. This same concept could apply to factories to make people better workers. This can be used in schools to produce better students, make sure they don't cheat military barracks to produce better soldiers. It really was the prison of dreams to Jeremy Ben
but the titanic or something magical place where this magic happen, simply by their being a severe asymmetry in knowledge? That's how it works, observers, know everything and the observed there. knows anything and who would have thought that we can make improvements so many areas of society just by doing that, but, as you can probably imagine, there's a dark side to the panopticon fast forward, was two hundred years later to the work of the philosopher, Michel foucault, and just let me go to interrupt the show anymore. Beyond this point, I want to take a second to thank the people that support the sponsors of the show. Today you make the frequency of the show possible thanks for checking these fine folks out. If you enjoy the podcast. The first sponsor today is element element is spelled l in n t an element is an electrolyte drink mix. That has everything you need and nothing you don't. I was reading an email that the co founder of the
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she's in western society and nineteen. Seventy five c part of a foucault saying is that if you're a government or anything that has power for that matter, we don't live in a world anymore, where you got a crack people upside their great fruit. Looking ahead with a whistle ball back to keep them doing what you want them to be doing in nineteen seventy five, he says what you do if you want to keep people under control is he just control the minutiae of human life? You create stand, birds of what is normal and abnormal, and then the people will police themselves much like in the panopticon cedar co. There is a clear relationship in modern societies between knowledge and power, and it goes on multiple different levels: the people in power control. What knowledge is they control? What constitutes knowledge they control who gets tenure and gets to disseminate knowledge. They control the norms and taboos of social institutions and therefore control how people view them and then how people be themselves within society at large, just as an example of how all the stuff operates. Think of something like education-
which often presents to people is something that's unbiased and neutral. It's often expected that as teachers as professors you're not trying to bring any bias into the equation here, you're just trying to spread knowledge about the facts of the world. That's what you might expect when you the school, but just consider how it actually plays out in the real world. Take a random example of something that's taught to people, something like history, and because I'm an american I'll stay in my own lane. Here all this talk about american history right now: ok, we'll not many people deny that there's a lot of different ways. You can teach someone american history seventy years ago were so american history may have been taught by playing up a particular narrative, maybe by talking about the glorious american revolution against them
then we fought a civil war too in slavery, then we peacefully stayed out of world war two until we were viciously attacks and then we had no choice but to step in and help save the whole world from the evil nazis. You could teach american history in that way and someone like foucault would say that when you teach it in that way, it breeds a certain kind of attitude and the student about their position in american history and it affects the way they see themselves in the world now contrast that version of american history with a different one. That's been discussed more recently, where the decision by people's been to teach students more about the details of specific things: the details of slavery. In the? U s, the details of the treatment of native americans of women suffrage. You change the perspective that the narrative is coming from, and lo and behold, some people have a problem with that version: a history because they say it's creating a generation of people who hate the country that its teaching them to identify. The country solely on its worst qualities? But again other people would say that the american history from seventy years ago created a generation of people that sweep the detail,
for the past under a rug and just focus on the victories. Now what if either of these narratives poly embody the truth doesn't really matter. Because the point is what we have in an education system before co is not some neutral enterprise. It's trying to offer up the truth about the universe around us know likened the panopticon. There is an asymmetry between knowledge and power. The people in power that control the curriculums in and education, determine what knowledge is simply by doing that, they end up determining what normal is and because they determine what normal is. They. also determine what an anomaly is too that norm then to foucault. They come up with social categories that able. Someone is one of these anomalies. In a negative way, which then encourages a system of conformity, for example, you can differ from the norm politically to an extent, but you go too far, and now you magically become an extremist or a terrorist. Your hit with that label for being, who far outside the norm. You can deviate from the norm psychologically to an extent go outside, and
too much, and now you become mentally ill. There were sexual norms during the time of foucault go too far outside of them, and now you become a pervert. None of this is buko, saying that norms shouldn't exist or don't serve a social function he's merely trying to understand. Architecture of how modern power dynamics work and the evils of these social anomalies play an important role and how this is all maintained, just like in the panopticon you cretin, asymmetry and levels of knowledge between the observers and the observed and just like in the pan, I have to con people internalized normative, behaviors and end up regulating themselves to go along with them, for it ever thinking too far, outside the bounds of what the approved knowledges of the day. No one wants to deal with the social backlash of all that who wants to be called an extremist or a failure or mentally ill or erratic. It is not a coincidence to fuku that in the world in nineteen, seventy five prisons start to look like factories, which start to look like schools would start to look like hospitals would start to look like military barracks to fu co.
Jeremy bentham was right. The panopticon truly does make better prisoners, students and workers. It creates an environment where conformity is rewarded and just like the prisoner. EL the panopticon. It creates an environment where you always have to be worried, It can never really relax. Now. This is the view of the panopticon and nineteen seventy five, but the prison that people fears emerging now. Fifty years later, it's similar in some way is but it's more diabolical fu code, we haven't fits of giggling laughter and in black and out of his life today and to help build a case for why. I want to talk about some interesting ideas from the work of a philosopher named Stephen cave, who, among other things, thinks that something incredibly important that we need to acknowledge? If we want to understand the state of the society we have right now is we have to look at the role of intelligence all throughout history as something that's been used as a justification for dominating and controlling people? He says you know. When we talk about intelligence in casual conversation, it's really easy for it to seem like a politically neutral thing.
that's going on, but when you say someone stupid, all you're really saying is something very innocent you're just saying that we can trust him with fireworks, while there alone you to say in the Does they probably drive a really loud vehicle of some sort seems to be some kind of correlation there between intelligence and how loud someone is The idea is that all your saying when someone scores low on intelligence test is that there's something about their mental faculties, its lower than average, but the reality he says is that historically, intelligence has been used to justify things that are absolutely horrible. Historically, just the way that has played out to say that someone is, who better than someone else. It's really saying something greater about what they should be allowed to do within a society about what rights they may have as a person.
as we have this long standing idea in the western world is very politically entrenched at this point that the more intelligent and educated you are, the more it makes sense for you to be the person that's in charge of everything. Now what's his hold on there for a second cause, I think an obvious response back to this could be well. That's on a western world thing, that's a human thing. As people we just natural We want the smartest people, we have been making the decisions here, the top, but that's not actually how history is gone. There's lots of reasons been in charge in the past that have nothing to do with intelligence. The strongest would rule and alive Cases and a mite makes right sort of situation. People would inherit positions of power being the relative a former ruler in an aristocratic situation. People use religious reasons to determine the next leader point. Is this whole idea, the most intelligent and educated among us should be the ones that are ruling stephen caves as far from this being the norm, this is actually a
radical idea in the ancient greek world, where the foundations of our political philosophy relate and when it comes to the value of intelligence. From a philosophical perspective, philosophers like plato, he says we're obsessed with an Budgets is just back then, given they nonexistent field of psychology and how we understand intelligence today to be obsessed with intelligence back then was to be obsessed with one important subset of intelligence. Called reason. Reason it was said by the philosophers is what separates us from the animals. Reason is part of the essence of what makes us human and for plato when he writes the republic and designs the structure of an ideal society. Not surprisingly, he puts the full. Super king as the person who should be in charge of it all. In other words, the guy in charge, would be the guy that uses reason to gain a better understanding of all the different components of a society and the guy who's been highly educated since birth to be a ruler. No again, Does a radical idea in ancient greece at the time, and it's not long stephen caves as before plato student Aristotle comes along
and force. What is now known as one of the first philosophically grounded naturalistic social hierarchies, the thinking of the time the reality of the world we live in is one where some people are more rational and educated than other people. So if you're gonna try to structure of society in the best way possible, and you want to do it in a way where people can do what their naturally best at thus provide as much value as they can to that society then obviously the people who are the most rational and educated should be the at our leading I got to thinking, is that's not just better for them, that's better! For everyone all the way down the line. People that are better suited to lead should be leading like. Why would you ever want the town drunk up there? The podium not what your country can do for you know you want a certain kind of person, that's in charge. Now What inevitably comes out of that kind of set up, though, is a hierarchy of rationality. If the most rational, educated men are supposed to be the ones that are in charge, then less rational people should never be considered for leadership.
Patients so at times even caves, as in a world where women are seen as more quote sentimental and flighty than men are, women were seen as just better suited to serving other. In society where their natural abilities could be more accentuated, move further down the hierarchy, and you come across people of other skin colors or genetics, people who are viewed at this time as not too smart really physically gifted so within this social hierarchy. The way at seeing is that their natural gift was to use their body to contribute to society, and this goes all the way down to animals and then two trees and ox the lower your level of rationality and education? The less you have to be leading society, and this way of looking at things get in added into western philosophy so deep that it still there in the work of descartes overfished one hundred years later, even later than that, he got caught saying that rational beings are ends in themselves, non rash it'll beings. Only have a relative value was means and are therefore called things later on. People use intelligence to justify the age of colonialism that these laws
Intelligent people all across the world need european culture to be able to civilised, and in fact it would be in here, in forest, and not try to govern these people, who clearly are less kay of governing themselves, yet various examples of intelligence being used to justify slavery. We even have examples of people being sterilised because they have lower intelligence, get that was pretty crazy. Saving cave explains that charles Darwin had a cousin. his name, was sir Francis Galton he's didn't we thought of as being the originator of psycho metrics and a leading proponent of the time of eugenics seamen, darwin rights, the origin of species, Sir Francis over their gets, inspired and things oh well. Intelligence must be something that people are born, with an obviously just like when a bird with a longer beak needs to breed with another burned, with a longer beacon, they'll have long beak babies. The way you make the human species smarter. Is you take the smartest will. You can find a new breed and together with the other, smartest people, you can find not only that, but Anybody who is not that intelligent. We should tell him not to breed
has really there only making the species dumber the more kids they have, while ever want that, but he has a problem. How do you find out who the smartest people are well? We need a scientific way of measuring people's intelligence, so sir Francis Galton creates an intelligence test to be able to measure it, as Stephen cave says quote. Thus, eugenics and the intelligence test were born together. End quote because, while there are other intelligence tests before that, one fact is, tens of thousands of women were forcibly. Sterilised. After scoring poorly on one of these intelligence tests, wouldn't even draw the line at just human beings me Jesus, we even eat animals. We actually two things.
up, swallow them and use them for fuel and for some people. That's ok because a chickens, less intelligent and has a less rich experience of the world than we do point is, when you say something about someone's intelligence level: you're, not just making an innocent claim that someone stupid it's just that there is the kind of person that really thinks they want a hundred dollars. When someone randomly text them know, given the history we have, you are potentially make an all kinds of other claims about what that, and should be allowed to do with their life, because their less intelligent. Now, not only a stephen cave saying that we need to be aware of this history but another one of the points he's making with all this has to do with artificial intelligence. because he says if we're living in a world where there are masses of people worried about asia, I and superintendent robots taken over the world while it it makes sense. Why was so scared of it? We, already set the precedent over and over again throughout history, that, if a beings more intelligent or educated than another being taken simply do whatever they want to them? Of course, we be worried about brain a super intelligence to life and when we start to think about machine algorithms and the programme
simply expanding role that this turned to play in our lives. As these things that are far more educated than us, and they can recognize patterns that tell you what you want before you even know it you want. Could it be that there's a sense of willingness from people to outsource these sorts of decisions at their helping with the something that seems more? television than they are, and could it be that that willingness is just one factor that limits the free If someone in the modern world who voluntarily places themselves inside of a digital form of a panopticon, what would a digital panopticon even feel like? If you were in it? Would you ever even know before we explore that possibility deeper? I think will be helpful to consider another interesting idea from the work of Stephen cave, where he examines the concept of free will, because, if we're interested in understanding, how zactly a digital panopticon would limit someone's freedom, then having some common language when it comes to understanding what precisely constitutes a free choice. That's gonna help us on a lot, because he Stephen cave
talk about free will in the same way we did and our free one determinism episode just happened, he's more interested in quantifying What exactly do we mean when we say that someone made a free choice as the director of the lever whom centre for the future of intelligence and a philosopher interested in trying to better understand all sorts of mental states. Stephen case says that, if you're willing to think about how intelligent someone is in terms of an iq or an intelligence, quote and, if a willing to think of how emotionally intelligent someone is in terms of an eu or an emotional quotient, is it that crazy of an idea to think that we may be able to have a freedom quotient or an f k? that measures? How free somebody is when making a decision, this waste My kind of a wacky idea on the surface but Stephen cave says:
were actually already making these sorts of considerations and an inform away in legal proceedings. All the time a judge will look at a case. They will consider all the evidence, though, consider who the person is in their history. The way things like the intent behind the act, the consequences of the act and after referencing, all sorts of different psychological and philosophical measuring sticks, they will determine What a suitable punishment is for that person and part of that is determining how free they were to make the choice they did. That kind of stuff goes on in court rooms all the time right now, but the question is: why does that process have to only go on inside of the head of the judge? Is there not a more scientifically quantifiable way of measuring this kind of stuff? Just to be clear, he says only realise were not quite there. Yet. Ok, we still have a lot. We need to understand about the capacities of underline behavioral freedom. That is true, but is it too early to be thinking about this f q as a potential possibility in the future, because one for sure to him. The way we're talking about freewill right now is not satisfying.
Anybody. We need a new way, so many the ideas we have about it, come from a pre scientific age where we would just sort of spit balling, but it's an understandable place to be in because the challenges here are big. How do you even start to define how much free will somebody has if that was something you to do and while he had now just there's no consensus on this whatsoever, but he says if you want to try to get started, trying to connect the dots between the different ways, people defined it over the years. You could say that free will has three primary components: one the ability to generate options for oneself to ability to choose and three the ability to pursue one or more of those options after choose it, three different stages, and what you'll notice is that each one of these stages requires a totally different skills
I have to factor in when determining someone's fq score. Let's look at them one by one, the first stage being able to generate options for yourself. This is the part of any truly free choice that you make in life where you're faced with a decision point- and you have to rack your brain to come up with all the possible options for you to choose from the thinking here. Is that generally speaking, if someone doesn't have a lot of options or if a person can see very many options to choose from, we generally don't consider them to be as free as someone who had a lot of options. The second stage was the ability to choose one of those options. The skill that's required. There is being able to reason thinking critically weighing the pros and cons of different decisions. Anyone who makes a free choice is, at some point going to need these reasoning skills to be able to choose what the best option is to move forward and the last stage
is the ability to actually pursue one of these options. In other words, this is the part of the decision where you actually do the thing. This is the part that's connected to what we would typically call the will, there's a sense in which you need to be able to do all three of these things. If you're going to make a free choice- and you can imagine how certain people are going to be skilled in each of these different areas in slightly different ways- sometimes it can be totally imbalanced. For example, if somebody could really struggle with the first skill, they might struggle to creatively, come up with a lot of different options to choose from, but it never really hurt Isn't that much in life, because, on the other hand, they can be really good at the wheel side of things and they're always able to execute the option, that's mostly good for them. On the other hand, you could have somebody that sees all the options in the world. They can have fifty to one hundred options to choose from maybe they're great reasoning between them in choosing the best one, but they will struggle with being able to execute the choice they made. So there s q score.
actually be really low. Stephen caves says that what we might find if we started measuring things in this way is the prisoners behind bars in particular, might have a lower f q score on average, when it compared to the rest of the general population, meaning that their people that either lacked options to choose from lack the ability to think critically about what the best choice was or had different the executing the right choice. Maybe all three you think about the way the prisons are designed in the modern world mostly lie stimulation environments with very little decision making going on and stephen cases. You wonder if maybe pudding listeners in a situation where they can't develop any of these skills that would raise their f q. You wonder if there might be a better way to do it more than that. He says. If F Q was a score that was as prevalent as I q in terms of public awareness, we may find that it benefits society greatly to nurture the skills that raise the fq of the population at large and in that world. Why not focus on the
skills and schools. If we did when that, just create more empowered citizens on the other side of it. But then again, what if you didn't want to be creating empowered citizens? What happened, dead, whether by a single organised body or a bunch of different distributed innovations are competing for people's attention. What if the goal was not to create people whose free will score is as high as possible, but to create an environment where each one of these three stages of free will is systematically weakened? When you think about the possibility of a digital panopticon like this, it really to start to raise the question of what exactly is freed like as a berlin talks about is freedom, simply freedom from constraints. Is it simply just not being prevented from doing certain things in life or does freedom also nasa, airily require that people have the skills opportunities to be able to pursue the life they want to live say wanted to control a population, a peep
and say you're living in the modern world where, as we established the best and most efficient way to control the population, isn't beaten and when they get on a line, but to create an asymmetry of knowledge in a panopticon. How would you do it if you weren't able to lock people inside a cages? How would you limit each stage of their freedom that we just talk about? Let's start with the first one, limiting the options that people to choose from should be said. This is not a new idea for keeping people under control. Governments have been doing this for centuries. Of course, governments pass laws, they create fines, regulations, but that only covers a relatively small number of things that we don't want people to do to really be able to control a population. Governments realise long Go you gotta, get people a limited state, approves story to believe in but what's going on around them, does why so many governments use propaganda as a tool? This is the classic asymmetry and knowledge from the panopticon. This is why, if you wanted to control a particular group, you would pass laws. It would not allow certain
to be educated. This is why abuse of people in general limit the information of the people that their abusing you don't abuse apparent, doesn't want their kid go, the school and talk and all their teachers and councillors about what's going on in the house and abuse a spouse, I want the person there abusing having friends and talking to them about? What's going on, they'll tell em What's going on is wrong limit. Someone's options is a powerful way to limit their freedom, we know this and it is built into foucault, analysis of controlling social institutions and the norms and taboos of a society we talked about it before. But if a nineteen seventy five foucault feared a panopticon where we would control them show people's lives at the level of the institution. What if we could, all of a sudden through they take now of machine algorithms and the ever expanding sophistication of artificial intelligence. What if we could now, control the minutiae of people's lives all the way down to the level of individual transaction if you were living in a world where everything that's recommended to you from the stuff that you buy to the new stories you read was ultimately controlled by an air this bill.
Progressively more detailed profile on you with every add the eclipse browser window open every video. You watch the exact point, the gestapo in the video. It knows about that too much more. What this was all data that was being gathered decree. In the ongoing cumulative profile on you to be able to sell to you better and to be able to know what you're up to every day. Oh wait. No, that's that's not, and if that's already happening, everybody knows this, it's not even surprising. what may be surprising to. You, though, is the rate at which these profiles of people are becoming more legible for companies and governments to read see they ve had mountains of data about your behaviour to sift through for years now, the real, since always been what can they really know about any one person with the filters? They can run this data through. What that you're, that you're into philosophy that you you looked at baby blue paint on the home deeper website last week, someone grabbed the Reynolds rap and make me a helmet over here that in the past, it is
really been legible. Information for the more sophisticated the technology of ai gets the more complex. The path turns out that it can recognize in your behavior, and we ve seen this development coming for years. That started with algeria Then, along came machine learning, from within machine learning came deep learning, where they added neural networks into the equation and now creating They are even more focused and that on the corporate side of it, We already know that companies have been trying to track and predict our behaviour for years. We know HU, there are cubicles full of boy building deeds and wing tips frothing at the mouth, be able to predict what you're going to do next and on the government side of this in the united It's at least we already know about programmes like prism, or boundless information that track internet activity and your emails text messages phone calls We already know that they used to compile it onto a giant data center and then run these massive amounts of data through filters where, if certain words or subjects come up, people are flagged as threats for further review.
We know this was going on ten years ago, when edward Snowden leaked it and as he says, but even a prism ended. Do you really think programs like that are still going on? Do you think they won't use the ever spanning sophistication of a I'd be able to create a more detailed granular profile on who you are what happens when a I become sophisticated enough, that they don't need real, People like Snowden analyzing, the people who are getting flagged does create a spy. but there's no longer room for whistleblowers willed, machines keep the secrets of the people that are in charge of these programmes? More than that, doesn't this term hiding. Someone for anomalous behaviour started their strange resemblance to the way foucault talks about society. Labeling people is social anomalies because the thing maybe right now your emails are only getting flag if you talk explicitly about bombing in endangered species, a chipmunk right, but in the future, with a I already in china being advanced enough to spot a single person in a sea of people whose acting in an anomalous way, do you think in the future, but get someone flagged could becoming.
There are far more granular as well. Given what we know. about how there's a direct relationship between the accepted now into the day and the people in power. Think of how an environment where something is constantly mom, during every article? You read every idea you consider think of how that panopticon, like situation, has the potential to impact people's education, their development, their personality, real question: do you right now have private conversations with people? You trust about concepts, you D, degree with that. You would never talk about publicly because its irresponsible to, but nonetheless, these are crucially important conversations to your own development because they allow you to retain ideas without the fear of social backlash. Yeah me too, all the time, but if you're living in a world where you can't know whether every conversation you're having as being listened to, what are every digital fingerprints you leave? Is it being catalogued unrecorded into a profile that represents you somewhere
Would you be a little more hesitant about the stuff that you read? Would you be a little more cautious about the conversations you're having with people surveillance impacts, people's moral development? This is why can't surveillance is such an important aspect of many religions. God is always watching right. It affects the way the people behave. Ineffectually ideas people are willing to entertain. and when norms and anomalies can be recorded and analyzed it not just the institutional level, but the level of the individual transaction people will consider outside opinions less out of fear of being flagged, and it creates an environment where people will be less skilled at critical thinking and using reason to determine what the best option is, which remember was second thing you'd want to limit. If you want the lock people inside of a digital prison, it has been said that in the west we will slowly voluntarily hand our rights over to the people that control these machine algorithms, and that when we do, it will be done in the name of two things: convenience and security
It will be done in the name of getting a roast beef sandwich, the liberty of five minutes faster and in the name of sterilizing the world around you of any danger to anyone anywhere some kind of utopia, but when you see professor options. In the name of that convenience and security. You also limit your field of view. You run the risk of only seeing the options that an algorithm decides to give you based on what its optimized for anywhere already living in a world where a totally open minded person that hears about something happening in the news. That wants to hear that intelligent arguments. On the other side of the issue, I already have a very hard time, even finding anything other than the straw man version of the other side that their side of the algorithm is roasting, see. That's the thing about the digital version of this panopticon, in particular. If you are a prisoner, that's inside of a cell right now, Oh then, obviously the cell isn't made a concrete and iron bars. It's a digital echo chamber created by algorithms and the warden of the prison in the sinner tower the panopticon, the threats, not just that they could be watching you at any moment. The ace
symmetry and knowledge is more than an bentham panopticon because you don't know anything but the people who are watching, but they potentially know everything about you down to the most granular detail. and they can predict and guide your behavior some ways it you don't have the capacity to resist. You can't resist it because the warden prison in this modern version of the panopticon is also the activities director of the prison and away they. Can every idea that you have access to and every solution that you can possibly think they limit your ability to think critically and choose better or worse options, and when it comes to the will, the actual execution side of making a free choice instead of like an earlier, does signs of a prison where they would keep people in low stimulation monotonous. Boredom all day this prison warden keeps people hyper stimulated, dialing in fine tuning, exactly the media, the video games, the drama that keeps you scrolling and distracted, keeping you constantly and a state anesthesia ass. These to numbed ever feel the pain of being in a prison pain that may otherwise cause you too
change something about your situation. I may need to talk about the plight of some living and modernity, and he predicted that, after the death of god, people would still have this propensity to attach themselves to an ideology and that what he predicts that that ideology would be political in nature, but nature, never imagined during his time the option that exists for someone living in today's world to essentially choose to be functionally on drugs for every second of their day, never feeling bad about it. How many prison riots would break out if it was legal to draw the prisoners to sleep every day of their lives and with generative ay, I being able to produce this prison instantly and zero cost. with people being more legible than ever before to companies and governments around the world? This is the development and near perfection of the panopticon as a method of social control, but that's it. I'm done steel manning that whole side of it, as we do on the show but slow down and still an inventory of the different dimensions of the conversation that could exist first of all summer could say: yes, we do live at the mercy of these out
rhythms to an extent, but how all encompassing? Are they really to someone's whole reality that their living, it I'm sure, if someone's a total passenger, everything that's going on in the world around them. Maybe you can effectively keep them locked in an echo chamber for their entire life, but remember like we started the episode with we're trying to live the examined life here. We are paying attention and, if there's any truth to all this, maybe there's ways that people can resist this sort of thing from inside the panopticon. Also, it absolutely needs to be said that there are people out there that wouldn't necessarily buy into the doom and gloom of all this there's people out there that say that increased security is an undeniably good thing. They might say, look all the stuff you just described there sure you can call it a prison or a not the kind if you want, but other people might just call it a safer society on the corporate side, all you're talkin about as people getting better and better at their job of showing me. What am I possibly want? It's my decision ultimately to choose to buy it
Why not explore other options end up with the government side of this all you're really saying is that there's a group of highly skilled people out there, whose entire job every day is to watch people's back and a more sophisticated, effective way? What's wrong with that guy, you know who else used to watch my back my mom he going to attack her now that poor woman's been through enough already? How dare you there's a perspective? Some people have of well, I'm not doing anything. wrong? What do I care if a machine knows everything about me? What do I have to hide and the machine gathering that information is gathering information on people that could potentially hurt me or my family? Maybe this is just the next evolution of what a society is. Next episode, we're going to talk about a lot we're going to talk more about surveillance, rather talk about the age, old, philosophical relationship between freedom and security, thomas hobbes, John Stuart mill will talk about some of the most important voices on either side of this debate, of whether a survey
What state is a good thing for a society, then I want to talk about some tactics for how to deal with living in a world that feels like a panopticon. Sometimes, how would someone resist against this stuff if they wanted to unlock the good news for us? Is that, by this point, has been a lot of philosophers throughout history who has spent actual time in prison and wrote about how to deal with it or in other cases they at least lived in a world that was so chaotic. It can sometimes feel like you're, a prisoner, either way, there's a lot of important advice to take from them, and I'm gonna be doing a bit of a philosophical round table comparing different thinkers and what they might say, if they were alive today until then, which will be seven days from now on august thirtieth, try not to throw your phone into the nearest river, try not to punch any cameras, I stay calm. I want to thank everyone on patreon shoutouts this week, faith mickey one tom ornament, andrea, woo, Derek Davalos and Alex may. Thank you for listening, talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2023-08-25.