Cryptography and A No-Trust Society
Today, I learned about Zero-Knowledge Proof. This is part of my work diving deep into my due diligence with data protection with Enderbook. I find the topic of data rights, data protection, cryptography, and privacy extremely intriguing as I get deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole. After some initial contemplation of this idea of Zero-Trust, I began to wonder if these mathematical equations are simply trying too hard to make privacy work.
Of course, as a clickbait professional, cynic, and contrarian, I began to think about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That is to say, what if we removed privacy from our society entirely? Below is playing with that idea. I am by no means a proponent of the idea (despite how vehement I appear to be in the writings), but I am fascinated by the prospect. In this writing, perhaps I am attempting to convince myself.
Privacy is mutually assured distrust
Scenario: I am private about my affairs because you ignore the context, nuance, and diversity of needs between humans.
However, I am only private because you are private. Because you are private, I have no way of proving that your life possesses context, nuance, and diversity of needs.
As a result, I am left to believe that my existence is simplified into me being a morally and ethically dubious person, and in your perfection, are guiding me to purity as you cast judgment upon me.
But there is no purity in being someone else. Therefore, I need privacy to truly be myself.
The Burden of Proof
In legal systems, the burden of proof lies on the accuser. In this case, I am accusing you of being just as ‘impure’ as I am. I must prove that you are the same as me – someone who lives a life that requires a large degree of taking into account context, nuance, and the diversity of needs between humans.
However, because privacy is a legally mandated right, I am unable to prove this. This is mutually assured distrust. I will never trust you because you will never trust me. Romantic relationships, in theory, have a foundation of breaking down that mutually assured distrust.
I am not a religious person, but my understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ, the ancient figure that is the most known figure in our society, has a foundation of loving your fellow (wo)man.
To paraphrase a supposed quote from Mr. Christ, “If love is fire, I seek to set the world ablaze. Oh, how I wish I had some kindling.”
Setting the world ablaze
It is my opinion that the kindling that Christ so desired is only acquired through the destruction of privacy. In romantic relationships leading to marriage, it is most often preceded by a period of courting and dating in order to carry out building trust. This trust is required for most people in order to break down their walls of privacy. With this privacy gone, they are now free to fully share their human experience with their partner.
What is so impossible about the world as it is today (and seemingly always has been) is that it is physically impossible for 100% of the human population to be completely devoid of privacy. In a best-case scenario, we are private through obscurity.
Mutually assured distrust is, of course, an analogy to mutually assured destruction. The driving force between world powers that prevented them from ever going to war with each other. It prevented the annihilation of humanity.
Mutually assured distrust is a precarious thought to me. Does it prevent humanity from the annihilation of our social structures as they exist today? If so, is that a bad thing? Something we all intuitively know is that humanity needs to awaken to love each other. Not just our romantic partners. Not just our family. But each other. All of us.
Why does privacy need to be destroyed?
How do we destroy our personal privacy, expand trust with others to the completeness, and begin pacing the road to loving each other?
Privacy is a fundamental right because it levels the playing field between those with power and those without power. A person in poverty can do as he pleases behind closed doors as much as a rich and powerful person. However, the scalability of suffering that can be caused by the lack of accountability behind closed doors is exponential when, behind those closed doors, are the rich and powerful.
Personal privacy is not protecting us from the rich and powerful (governments and corporations). It is a tool. A wolf prowling in our home. They say the wolf is a privilege because it protects our home from intruders. But, what happens when these wolves are trained to serve their true masters that are not you? What happens when these masters use a dead language to command the wolf to turn against you?
We already know what happens. We continue to shame ourselves as the rich and powerful perpetuate the use of privacy with impunity. Privacy is a crime against humanity. It stifles open discourse around uncomfortable subjects. The uncomfortable subjects continue to perpetuate suffering, and we are unable to grow out and away from them.
It is time for exponential social innovation
What if I was schizophrenic 100 years ago? Without sufficient healthy discourse, I would be cast out from my village because my dependence on alcohol would be mistaken for laziness and indulgence, rather than self-medication from a lack of treatment to a serious medical condition.
We live with the privilege of exponential technological advancement through the Turing machine. Yet, we all know, we are essentially cavemen brains with keys to the nukes and supercomputers. Now more than ever, it is critical for us to have exponential social advancement. It is my belief that this exponential advancement is not possible without annihilating the idea of privacy is a good thing. It is not. Privacy is not a good thing.
A small update
When I first wrote this post, everything above was quite novel to me. At this point, I think it’s extremist thinking. Extremism always leads to opportunists enchanting and subsequently oppressing the masses. In a perfect world, we should not have to be private about anything. We should have open and honest conversations. But, we are idiots. Well, maybe only I’m an idiot. Maybe I couldn’t possibly fathom that everyone isn’t as dumb as me. It’s hard enough to tell myself that I’m an insufferable hipster that doesn’t know what he’s talking about whenever I start ranting about light roast vs. dark roast coffee.