Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

Politics of secrecy

Charles Stross, in an interesting article on the BBC's web site, posits a future in which nano-scale diamonds are used as data storage. Using two stable isotopes of carbon to make up such a crystal would allow, by Stross's estimation, "a video and audio channel, with running transcript and search index, for six billion human beings for one year" to be stored in a little over a pound of material.

Stross goes on to talk about how this will be a great boon to future historians, who will have a wealth of information that we simply have no access to about our predecessors. The ephemera of daily life will be available for scrutiny in ways we cannot imagine. Stross invokes our favorite security guru in saying that dealing with privacy issues around the storage of all this data will be a huge legal issue.

I agree with Bruce and Stross on that account but I think that it goes further than that.

We've already seen the political ramifications of the ability to say "I don't recall" or to mysteriously "lose" hundreds of email messages. If Stross is correct about the ubiquity of this kind of storage and its capacity, those scenarios will disappear. If one person cannot recall or deliberately erases a record, there will be fragments of what is being investigated stored in the on-going record of every person even peripherally involved.

What will politics look like when there are no more secrets?

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