The problem with open technology

I just finished reading Dave Eggers’ The Circle, and I took a weekend class at ITP with Joerg Blumtritt on Blockchains. Both of these things open conversations on what the future of technology looks like. In The Circle, the future is dominated by constant surveillance and identity verification to make all information, both public and private, completely open. Blockchains promises something very similar, although with a very different system.

The problem with these technological innovations is that they erode trust. They coerce good behavior instead of it being our natural choice. It begins to eliminate choice. We choose to be good now and that choice influences our future choices, but in this future where everything is open and distributed and we are good, we are coerced to make the “choice” to be good. And when we are coerced, history often shows us that we rebel.

Instead of being so obsessed with “making the world better,” we should accept that humans are both good and evil, and we are constantly walking down a tightrope in which we make choices of what side we wish to jump off of. How do we build systems or solutions that play off the more natural way of human behavior?