Sunday AI: Secrets and Privacy
I read The Chronicle of Higher Education each week, mostly to see what’s up among other pointy-headed academics. Last week an interesting article ran called “Why Privacy Matters Even if you Have Nothing To Hide:”
“When the government gathers or analyzes personal information, many people say they’re not worried. “I’ve got nothing to hide,” they declare. “Only if you’re doing something wrong should you worry, and then you don’t deserve to keep it private.”….
Commentators often attempt to refute the nothing-to-hide argument by pointing to things people want to hide. But the problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is the underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. By accepting this assumption, we concede far too much ground and invite an unproductive discussion about information that people would very likely want to hide.”
That is a short excerpt from a long article which I recommend you read in full. It’s an interesting discussion of how we define “privacy”, almost none of which I’ll be discussing here, sorry.
The author brought up a really good point that I hadn’t considered before: Why is the default assumption that all secrets that need to be hidden away from the feds or kept offline are bad or embarrassing?
Now, granted, there are some fairly wonderful moments of schadenfreude to be had by poking around in folks’ privacy and discovering embarrassing things.
But when I think about things I keep private, most of what I come up with is stuff I don’t want to admit to because I think I’ll be judged.
For example, nearly everything I read is catalogued here, but I rarely mention that, because I know that some will judge my taste in books. (I have categories named “Swashbuckling” and “Fluff”, among others.) I confess, I read books with covers like this one on occasion.
I hide my identity online, mostly because my employer views my activities as questionable. I also like not having to worry that someone is camped out on my IRL doorstep because they hated one of my blog posts.
I’m not “out’ at work as an atheist, or as a bisexual. (Previous boss was fairly religious; new one an unknown quantity.) In that case, those are truths that I don’t want to cost me a job (especially given how hard it was to find a new one when I found out I was being laid off.)
I have a lot of secrets, but I really don’t consider them to be shameful or bad. They are just inconvenient, and hiding them saves me time and energy.
What about you? Do you have secrets that aren’t really shameful, but just inconvenient?
What inconvenient but non-shameful truths will you cop to?