What if everything everyone did was recorded and visible to everybody?

Assume some dystopian future where everything we do and think is recorded (e.g. via brain implants) and not only that, but everything is viewable by anyone in the world. Assume that this recording happens for every human in the world.

How would the world change? From the mundane (“does she love me?”) to more serious (the justice system, corporate espionage) to even more serious (intra-national espionage, war)

How would the following change
[ul]
[li]Dating[/li][li]Marrying[/li][li]Cheating on your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend[/li][li]The justice system (we will know who stole what and who killed whom)[/li][li]Sports (we will know the strategies put together by opposing teams)[/li][li]Card games (things like bluffing in poker may or may not be possible, depending on whether the data is viewable in real time by the other players, or is only viewable afterwards)[/li][li]Work[/li][li]The stock market (no more “insider information”)[/li][li]The economy[/li][li]Diplomacy[/li][li]Espionage[/li][li]Wars[/li][/ul]

Has this scenario been covered by any Sci-Fi books?

I’d love to hear what you guys think society would look like. Could society even function if this was the case? Would we all be miserable or happier than now?

With the eradication of the notion of privacy, and the ability of everyone to tap into everyone else’s thoughts we’d become a super hive and our achievements in technology, social justice, and personal satisfaction would exceed our wildest dreams of today.

I’d dig it.

The Light of Other Days does an excellent job at exploring this idea, although there’s no mind-reading.

To a first approximation, crime is non-existent. There will still be crimes of passion, but not much else. And I expect crimes of passion to go way down. After all, if no one can get away with murder, the need to have a gun to protect yourself is reduced while the danger of having one in your house where you or a loved one could use it in a fit of rage is unchanged, so most people won’t keep weapons like that around out of a sense of self-preservation.

I expect it would be a world of extreme social rigidity and stratification. Many many people currently pass themselves off in one way or another as someone they are not. Perhaps they pass themselves off as monogamous, or as observing a particular religion, or as opposed to an act that they privately enjoy. None of that would be possible.

We’d all either have to get a lot more circumspect about what we say or get a much thicker skin.

There’s no more cheating and keeping it secret, which means that people who think monogamy is very important will simply never enter into a relationship with people who act in a contrary way. I expect that, since not everyone agrees on a common morality, this would result in major social divides between groups. I expect the majority opinion would end up strictly codified either in law or in custom and minority groups to be severely oppressed, both on a small scale and on a large one.

I think sports wouldn’t change that much. Knowing the other team’s strategy and being able to react to it on a split-second basis are not the same. You lose some strategic flexibility, but tactical flexibility becomes more important. It’s possible you see a shift to sports where knowledge of an opponent doesn’t matter very much. Very little knowledge goes into running faster than someone, for example.

Or people playing the sports could collectively agree to not look at the info until after the event. They already sort of do that now in professional sports, so it’s not a big leap.

I would expect the world to be more of a meritocracy, assuming sufficient computing power to sift the data. No hidden salaries, so people can negotiate more effectively. No sleeping your way to the top. Social ability doesn’t help you get a job over more qualified applicants. And everyone can see exactly what the most successful people are doing to be good at what they do and emulate them.

Society becomes rigid and intolerant at best, and dominated by invincible tyrannies at worst. The busybodies and control freaks of the world can watch your every move and thought and harass or punish you for ones they disapprove of; the world becomes like a preindustrial village with everyone peeking in each other’s windows to ensure that “proper” behavior is maintained, except worse since not even thoughts are private. A tyrant can make his overthrow impossible by making it literally fatal to even contemplate doing so, much less trying.

Most likely, after a few centuries humans are essentially bred into a species of submissive conformists, as everyone who fails to conform is killed or hounded to suicide.

The closest I recall was a short story that was an unofficial sequel (by another author) to Isaac Asimov’s The Dead Past. In The Dead Past, a device that let everyone watch everyone else remotely was developed. In the unofficial sequel story, it turned out that civilization ripped itself apart, and that was the beginning of a permanent cycle of human civilization. Civilizations would rise and advance until they could build the viewers, then tear themselves apart until they collapsed so far they could no longer build or maintain them.

I don’t know, busybodies usually have the most to hide. And why would they have any more power to impose themselves on other peoples’ lives than others would on theirs? It seems that anyone with resources and motivation could use this ability to rule others, but not if we remember that knowledge always goes both ways. How can a tyrant maintain the fictions necessary to rule when his every thought is open to everyone?

It is really hard for me to imagine what this kind of existence would be like. Would you have to tune almost everything out to maintain your sanity, or would access to other people’s information be selective? How would people get through the day, or sleep at night, with all that going on in their heads?

I suspect that a mutation that allowed someone to selectively mask their thoughts would make the mutant like the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.
Roddy

There’d be a lot less masturbation. And nose picking.

As I have experience with troubled youth in the inner city, I have to report that several do not care about the recording that already goes on, while there will be better justice I would say that more than just crimes of passion will be seen, but at least we will be able to identify the psychopaths early.

I disagree. I think there will be a lot more of both because they will be seen as unavoidable impulses and tolerated.

I think the opposite. These things are considered private behaviors now, and because they are private, people can pretend they don’t do them. Which then leads to people labeling them as “sinful” or “inappropriate” and being all high-and-mighty.

If there are no more walls to hide behind, then all that prim and proper shit can be tossed out the window. Harmless, everyday stuff like masturbation and nose pickery will become completely normalized.

Only truly perverted behaviors will be reduced. Such antics will be left to those people who don’t give a fuck. Primarily sociopaths and the severely intoxicated.

But how would such a tyrant gain power in the first place?

I’d never be able to use the bathroom. It’d be so embarrassing!

Horrifying at first but I think it might be liberating, like moving to a nudist colony in a glass house.

Are you kidding, the rich and powerful commit crimes inplain view now.

Yes, because no one cares: he can effectively explain that this wasn’t what he intended at all. But if you walk into the capitol with the aim of killing every member of the US Congress to rule the world’s nuclear arsenal, there’s at least 535 who will immediately work to save their butts, not including anyone outside being security.

But the method of telepathy is important. Having it all stored for retrieval means that people could still be just as ignorant as they are, today. We basically already have that in Internet form for many topics and people still ignore them.

Looking at our Congressional leaders would allow you to see exactly what they believe on any number of topics, making voting a bit more straight forward.

It would probably reduce busy bodies because they could have their voyeuristic reveal into other people’s lives that they crave. It would make them less happy, though, because they couldn’t gossip about it. If they did, they couldn’t make exaggerations or moral damnations about it because anyone they did would immediately compare the source to the information that was dug up.

Also Damon Knight’s “I See You”.

In Sawyer’s “Hominids” there is universal recording but access to the recordings is somewhat restricted.

In Vinge’s “Deepness in the Sky” only the rulers (of course) can see the recordings (which also record physiological responses, giving close to a “mind-reading” effect).

Would porn makers cry or rejoice? Hmmmmm.

This is probably rather close to the experience of medieval people. People lived in such close quarters that there was no possibility of privacy. And to the extent that people believed in all-pervasive Christianity they would’ve believed that their every thought was known by God who had the power to reward and punish.

Just as believers then took great pains and spent much time in mental discipline (especially various forms of prayer) to keep their thoughts from turning to the forbidden, in such as world as you describe people would learn not only to mask their thoughts but to actually control their thoughts.

On the other hand, teenage rebellion would very easy. No need to go to the trouble of doing or even saying shocking things. You could attract attention just by purposely broadcasting shocking thoughts.

A moot point after everybody killed each other. I give it a month.

Complete breakdown of law and order. Anyone who wants cool stuff knows exactly where other people keep their cool stuff and how to get to it. Same as to anyone who wants to hurt another person. There aren’t nearly enough law-enforcement personnel to prevent all of these crimes. If you want to secure your person or your things, it’s up to you obtain your own protection. At best, this coalesces into gangs vs. private security; at worst, it’s anarchy.