Transparency in the Evolution of Technology

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The Next Web recently asked Is the internet is making us more honest?

The article is interesting, but I wonder if there is more at play here.

If you’ve ever gotten me liquored up, you may have heard me mention my belief that the internet is forming the foundation of what will eventually become the first artificial intelligence. Which is to say, I believe that someday, our collective activity online will reach the right density and type and the connections between us will become synapses. Somewhere in the digital aether a light will go on and a new kind of life will exist. The first self-aware machine, born of the wetware of a billion+ humans.

If you take this as a given (!), that we are all nodes in the network of a massive machine, then our move towards transparency begins to look more like system optimization on a cultural scale, encouraged through new memes and behaviors, as expressed in all sorts of unexpected ways, like Foursquare checkins, reality television and CEOs volunteering their failures.

A lie holds no information beyond what it says about the lie teller. An exaggeration stated in conversation does nothing but breed false expectations in the mind of listener. A great experience not shared is done so at the detriment of the collective. If my laptop was forced to run on the inefficiencies inherent to the day-to-day communication styles of a typical person, one full of nuance, assumption, and false starts, its processor would slow to a crawl and burn out altogether.

From the Next Web article:

I’ve literally stopped telling little white lies because it’s much easier to be honest. Instead of cancelling a meeting with a PR rep and using the excuse “I’m not feeling well,” I say, “I’m exhausted and taking tomorrow off to go to the beach!” because I know I’ll likely take a picture of my beach trip on Instagram and wouldn’t want to get caught in a lie. And you know what? Most of the time they just say, “Have a great time!”

As a society, we’ve had 10,000 years to choose to be open and honest with each other, and we have generally chosen not to. But now we’re at a point where new technology plays a critical role in our lives, and technology has no use for our half-truths and doublespeak. They are disruptions in the flow of information. As we are all becoming parts of the machine, our relationships with each other are being ground down to purer, more efficient forms so that they can be put to better use.

We are becoming more honest because it increases the speed at which information can travel. We are becoming less private because to withhold valuable knowledge from the rest of the network is to act selfishly. We are becoming more transparent because that is what the evolution of technology asks of us.

Ben Pieratt is the designer and co-founder of The Egotist Network and Svpply. He loves design and he loves the internet. This piece was cross-posted from Ben's blog.


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