Keeping secrets used to be a lot easier. Noble philosopher kings with priestly knowledge kept that shit under under lock and key so some uppity courtesan or eunuch didn’t get too clever.
Not that it was all that necessary. Nobody was accidentally misinterpreting the layers of mystical knowledge because illuminated manuscripts were expensive as fuck. And that was cheaper than the previous method which was memorizing oral histories. The expense of sharing information has acted as a control mechanism for centuries.
If you’ve got the money, you can store your sex toys and drugs in layered secret drawers behind a hidden bust of Socrates. But some asshole will post a primer online and your benzodiazepines and vibrator will be long gone.
The metaphor I’m working with on this silly desk is that humans love to horde secrets. We’ve got a lot of incentives to keep knowledge locked away. Drugs and sex in my joke mere proxies for ways we access altered states. Eve’s apple was a metaphor for forbidden knowledge so I’m not reinventing the wheel here.
So where are we today on secrets? Well, I think we are trying desperately to put the genie back in the bottle.
We think we’ve got an open internet but ten years ago Instagram stopped including the metadata tags to allow Twitter to display rich content embedded directly in a Tweet. Now Twitter and Reddit are taking the same approach as Instagram did as data ownership becomes a hot issue.
Closed gardens are meant to keep thieves out and Eve in. And depending on who you are it’s likely you will experience the fall from grace of Eve and the persecution of the thief. God clearly knew something as his conclusion was that once you’ve tasted the bitter fruit there is no point in protecting paradise.
Every time there is more access to information we have the same debate. Fundamentally you either believe people should have access to information and how they apply it to their lives (side effects included) or you don’t.
I’m happy for you to argue the nuances of it. Want a recent example that looks complex and might actually be deadly simply?
From Guttenberg to the current crop of centralized large language models, it’s just more complexity and friction on the same old story. It is dangerous to let the savages have access to the priestly secrets. I for one remain on team Reformation. Rest in power Aaron Schwartz.
Most builders remain deeply skeptical of Noble Lies, “for your own good” safetyism, regulatory capture, oligopoly control, and the centralized nation state control as the most effective methodology of innovation for a dynamic pluralistic human future. We are having cultural and financial reformations at a frightening speed. It’s beyond future shock now.
So if I have a gun to my head (and that day may come) I’d like to have it on record that I don’t think secrets have any inherent nobility. It’s just a control mechanism. Keeping people safe sounds noble. But you’d be wise to consider how you’d feel if your life depended on having access to medical data. How would you feel if the paternalism of a noble lie to keep you from it? It’s not great Bob.