Part 3 – Sustainable economy – Having to chose between Transparency or Privacy?

For part 1 click here, for part 2 click here.

I dare say, no … I would not have to chose. It all depends on the choices we make together. We would have to better balance the incentives of our system and ‘check-test’ the details against the morals and ethics we hold in highest regard (which is a large part of what CSR is). We can prioritize or give them certain weight as a tool to guard them. And retaining one’s individual privacy could very well be one of those requirements. If, and there is no doubt we will, we run into a conflict between requirements, we have to acknowledge it and reevaluate. New insights warrant new actions, so we would have to adjust accordingly. It’s not about being right or wrong, but about continuously improving ourselves.

Of course, transparency should also be applicable to the way we guard that balance and would mean being open and clear about what elements of our lives are being tracked and for what purposes this information may be used. Basically, we would have to monitor the use of said data, in effect we’d have to monitor the monitoring. I know, it sounds like a paradox, but really it isn’t! 😉 Again, it is a matter of choice and the method(s) we use to make that choice, as long as we chose carefully and are not afraid to adjust or back-track if we realize it results in undesired consequences.

I realize this transition will not come at bargain prices, but I firmly believe that what we say is more important for society in the long run should be directly linked to how much we are willing to invest in it. Don’t forget the industrial revolution didn’t happen without big investments either. And if we look at overall spending in recent years for example, you may agree there is somewhat of a discrepancy in what we say is important and where the money has actually flowed.

When we then look at the rising resource prices, increasing conflicts over resources like oil, metals and minerals and, even more important, food and water, think of the impact on businesses, governments and thus the individual, i.e. you and me. Starting with creating transparency is an important step in preventing Murphy’s Law from forcing the inevitable upon us and thus limit what it will cost us.

It’s not easy to adjust the fundaments of a system that has been the only system many of us have known. But fear of the unknown has never brought humanity anywhere worthwhile. It’s a delicate balance we must continuously guard (we can’t be asleep at the wheel!), but we can adjust without having to throw away our freedom of individual privacy or other (more important) human rights.

And I for one am much more optimistic that we can successfully transform to a sustainable economy and the opportunities it brings than I am about maintaining the current one. To me, it’s a no-brainer.

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