Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego Futurist Imagines End Of Personal Privacy

The book cover for "Chasing Shadows," a science fiction anthology edited by David Brin and Stephen Potts.
Tor Books
The book cover for "Chasing Shadows," a science fiction anthology edited by David Brin and Stephen Potts.
San Diego Futurist Imagines End Of Personal Privacy
San Diego Futurist Imagines End Of Personal Privacy GUESTS: David Brin, co-editor, "Chasing Shadows" Stephen Potts, co-editor, "Chasing Shadows"

Lots of people began hearing echoes of the 20th century literary mastery speed -- masterpiece. This alerted readers to the danger of autocratic control with the doublespeak and big brother. Now a new compilation of short stories takes this concept of step farther. What happens when privacy vanishes? Will we become a society of little brothers watching each other? Joining me are the editors of the new book, chasing shadows, visiting of our transparent word. Welcome. Great to be with you. Also the literature professor, Stephen Potts. Orwell's 1984 is on the bestseller chart again. Doesn't hold a rare place in science fiction as a warning that people actually took to heart? I have spoken of the self preventing prophecy being the most advanced form of science fiction. It always tries to warn or explore possibilities. When a novel rises, that a special. It means it girded tens of millions of people to devote some of their energies to preventing the scary thing from coming true. The interesting thing is that until recently, Republicans and Democrats knew this about each other that they were concerned about big brother coming from the direction of academics and faceless government bureaucrats. At Democrat thought it would come from faceless corporations. We were willing to admit that the other guy might be right. Tyranny could come from any direction. This is lost now. Now, we have a tendency to assume that big brother could only come from those we fear. I think we've lost something. The book promotes an all-encompassing surveillance. Surveillance is surveillance except from above instead of below. Instead of all the transparency coming into, we have some common folk, the majority being able to look up our in the other direction. That would be from the bottom up. That way you have a tug-of-war for a balance. You are writer of short Tories. Your story is insistence of vision. Can you tell us what sort of technology exists in that world you created? In that world, technology moves ahead. Everybody is wearing spectacles that were very sci-fi 10 years ago. Now everybody knows that we will have augmented reality glasses. They will identify people's plate -- basis. We're a lot less -- we will identify people's faces. We're a lot less social. We don't sentence anything but the extreme cases to prison. What happens instead, you are artificial blinded. When you're wearing your spectacles, you can see. The speckled -- spectacles don't show you everything. They don't show you children or entrances into buildings were felons are forbidden. You can hold a job, you can wander around, you are no longer burden on society in prison. It is a different kind of hell for the soul. The world has gotten better. You are paying a price. That is what the future always does. That hell that you were just talking about, it seems like that is a drawback of having this flood of information available to everyone. What happens to people who are shy? This is exactly the right question. The first level in dealing with transparency is how to stay free. How we don't double back 6000 years. That we can achieve by just having transparency. If we have surveillance, big brother can be prevented. We have to embrace the technology. The second failure mode is to get depression by little brothers. We can avoid that if we just have the right social ideas of leaving people alone. If that is the worst -- were social crime then we can say to people, back off. You nailed the third level. Even if we have an open society in which tyranny is prevented and lawyers are deterred and eccentricity is accepted. --, What you do about the shy? I don't have an answer to that. That is white I-8 have asked people to dial-in on that point. What did they have to say? I think the best example I can think of is hijacked. That is not shyness but the family -- the husband who does not want his family being used. They may not be shy but it is a desire for privacy that would go along with that. He is more shy than his wife. Exactly. Jack's story, the very first story shows a woman who has refused to share her organs with a club she adjoined. She knows she will need an organ someday so she joined a volunteer club. She is asked to lend, because they can be put back, she backs away and she is being hounded by judgmental people in line. There comes a point in time where good people come to her rescue and say you lynch mob, stay away from her. She is vulnerable. Being rescued that way hurts are more because she is shy. We also think it may have to do with the way you use this technology. Be aware of what you are sharing. I know you are consulted a great deal by researchers and even technology companies. What are you hoping that they take away from the stories in chasing shadows? I'm hoping the people get the point that in the short term the ACLU and the electronics foundation, they are in their right to be fighting. Of the long run, the cameras will be smaller faster cheaper better and faster. We will have to be agile. Instead of standing with their hand out screaming stop, we will have to learn to surf. Everything about our history shows that we can and we have. I very optimistic that the layers will find themselves inconvenience. People who rely on truth will become better at using at desk using it. The book is called chasing shadows, visions of our coming transparent world. Thank you very much.

When President Trump's advisor Kellyanne Conway used the term "alternate facts" to describe a falsehood about the inauguration turnout, a lot of people began hearing echoes of a 20th Century literary masterpiece.

George Orwell's "1984" alerted readers to the dangers of modern autocratic surveillance and "newspeak," a language that could no longer refer to opposing political ideas. Conways's comments led to a spike in demand for the book.

Now a new compilation of short stories takes Orwell's concept of "Big Brother" one step further. What happens when technological advances let us see and hear almost everything about the people around us? Will we become a society of "Little Brothers", constantly watching each other?

Science fiction writer and futurist David Brin co-edited the collection, called "Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World." Unlike most dystopian fiction, he wanted the stories to consider what happens when information floods the world, but citizens share in the power, not just government.

"If light floods everywhere, what happens to neighbors? Will we develop habits to leave people alone? Will shy people be able to even survive?" Brin said. "A lot of the stories are about fighting back."

UC San Diego literature professor Stephen Potts co-edited "Chasing Shadows." He and Brin join KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with more on what could happen in a society without privacy.