Forgive and Forget

My partner Albert has long been arguing on his blog (which you should be reading) that technology is bringing massive changes to society and we are going to have to change the way we think about things in reaction to these changes. One of those areas is privacy and the “post privacy world” that we are entering.

Last week he wrote this about the Ashley Madison hack and argued that society needs to be accepting of and forgiving of transgressions like using a website to arrange extramarital affairs. When I read that post, I thought “oh my, that’s pretty out there.” Mind you, I don’t disagree with Albert’s point at all, I just thought most people aren’t going to see it that way.

So I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see Farhad Manjoo make essentially the same argument in the New York Times.

Farhad quotes a security expert at the end of his post:

True online security is not just defending against compromise, it’s operating under the assumption that compromise will happen.

And of course that is true for the technologists who work in the teams that strive to keep our systems secure. But if you, like Albert and Farhad did, take that point to its logical conclusion, then all of us will have are in for having our deepest darkest secrets outed at some point. So let’s hope society becomes more forgiving over time. It’s going to have to.

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Pinsen

    Given the apparent paucity of women on the site, at this point it’s not necessary to forgive people for using Ashley Madison to arrange affairs. You could forgive them for thinking about having affairs and for being duped.

    1. Salt Shaker

      Didn’t Jimmy Carter once publicly state that he “committed adultery in his heart many times.” Perhaps from eating too many peanuts and drinking Billy Beer.

  2. JimHirshfield

    Makes sense regarding secrets. But doesn’t apply to security breaches of banks and the money that goes missing. Attitudes and privacy norms will change, but companies need to up their security game as well.

  3. William Mougayar

    Albert also wrote 2 related posts that complement this view: “Protect People, not Data.” and “Secrets: Do we Really Need them.”It’s been said everyone has 3 lives: public, private and secret. Is that all getting mashed-up?

  4. LIAD

    Wow! Seriously??? Seriously!!Privacy breaches do not indemnify bad behaviour.Prevailing liberal social winds do not affect absolute morality.’People do it, chances are they are going to get caught, let’s just accept the behaviour’. – Ridiculous!Let’s not build a society that is encouraging and accepting of such things. Let’s stand tall and proud about having a moral and civilised society where we yearn for meaning and purpose and fulfilment not one where bad behaviour is accepted, excused, forgiven and forgotten just because technical advancements or screwups make it more likely that actions won’t remain privateEpitome of tail wagging the dog.

    1. Greg Kieser

      “Bad behavior”. “absolute morality” “moral and civilised society”.Good luck on getting consensus on what those ideas specifically entail.

      1. LIAD

        Comment in poetry. Blog in prose.

        1. Mario Cantin

          I’ll be using that line.

        2. Jess Bachman

          Tweet in Haiku?

      2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Non – existence of consensus does not imply meaninglessness.Few believe there is no concept of right and wrongBut many accept that their personal understanding of right may be imperfectThis does not mean trying to do right is wrong – it implies try harder with an open mind

        1. Greg Kieser

          I disagree. Lack of consensus on the meaning of terms like “absolute morality” implies meaninglessness in terms of the ability for those terms to be applied objectively to societal behavior. They are fine for driving individual behavior, of course.For example, some people will argue that tax evasion is morally wrong – because it hurts others that pay taxes. Others will argue that paying taxes is morally wrong because it funds wars that kill people.Who is right? Both? Or both wrong?

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            The sum of society’s actions is the sum of our individual behaviour.If these are improved society is improved – I refute the meaninglessness

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            So you disagree with Greg because ?even when collectively -> meaninglessmorality is still subjectively -> meaningfulbut isn’t morality by nature a social/collective endeavour or is ISIS contributing too social morality with their subjective moral input ?

          3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            I believe they are contributing to (driving) the evolution of society.Note My “if” >If these are improved society is improvedI do not like the contribution at allBut to call it meaningless would be an insult to many victims

          4. sigmaalgebra

            The couple exchanges some quite traditional marriage vows. One of them cheats. Now we know in quite clear terms of something quite “wrong”.

      3. sigmaalgebra

        For what they mean, e.g., traditional marriage vows say in quite clear terms.

    2. markslater

      Moral and civilized society as defined by????

      1. Twain Twain

        Not a handful of patrician Plato, Confucius, Aurelius et al or handful of academics in ivory towers as in days of old.Potentially defined by all 7+ billion people?

        1. Jess Bachman

          How about morality as defined by 1.5 billion Muslims? Seems a big enough group.

          1. Twain Twain

            All 7+ billion is a much cooler ‘Holy Grail’ to aim for!Every thing in the world defined by all 7+ billion people. Thing could be morality, brand, product, relationship etc.

    3. BulldogSpirit

      I agree with you, LIAD. Be wary of VC’s taking business models to their logical conclusion to justify moral equivocation. Reminds me a bit of that novel “The Circle”, where a Google-type company declares privacy as theft. Screw that. Let’s use a simpler analogy. I would guess my home is as likely to be broken into than any personal details I choose not to share on the web. If someone does, violates the privacy of my family and ransacks the house, should I just shut up and deal with it? Of course not. The tech revolution and all that it entails should not mitigate the need to demonstrate a moral compass, a sense of what is right and wrong. That is a debate in itself, but I challenge anyone to honestly say just deal with your house being busted into, or being mugged in the street, just because it can happen. No. Likewise the sanctity of private information…

      1. LE

        Yep. The rationalization factor runs high on this one for sure. It’s god’s work you know.

    4. David Barnes

      Forgive, yes. Accept, no.Most marriages are built on a promise of faithfulness — an exclusive rights contract, if you will.In a post-privacy world we need to become more trustworthy, not less.Would VCs be so progressive if a database of business contract breaches had come to light?

      1. fredwilson

        we may have to be and build a model that is accepting of it. that’s the point. this is not really about extramarital affairs. it is about a post privacy world.

        1. christopolis

          and your invested in bitcoin. makes a ton of sense for the post privacy world

        2. Twain Twain

          Please see my comment above on Blockchain encryption as a potential moral tool and as it applies not only to human-on-human morality but also machine-on-human morality.The other aspect that’s missing from the conversation is how the Ashley Madison case is about morality as defined by Western philosophy.The irony of Blockchain technology being huge in China shouldn’t bypass us.Where the ideas of Western and Eastern philosophy meet re. morality in a post-privacy world is as-yet unknown.And therefore…interesting to track…

        3. Jess Bachman

          “this is not really about extramarital affairs [Sweetheart]. it is about a post privacy world.”Not sure that line is going to fly with the ladies….

          1. Sandy

            As a woman, I hear what Liad is saying, but I actually agree with Fred and Albert.It’s not actually your place to control your spouse’s actions. You only get to control your own actions.So you either accept that your spouse will cheat on you long term – or you walk away.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            It’s not actually your place to control your spouse’s actionsRight. But, there were marriage vows; they were not just part of a costume farce but were to be taken fully seriously. With traditional marriage vows, adultery is a serious violation and says that the cheater is not to be trusted. Then the vows are canceled and the marriage. If want a marriage as in the traditional vows, then have to walk away.If the marriage is based on vows that say that love making is just friction and means no more than a game of ping pong, then adultery is no more serious than a telephone busy signal. Or just wait your turn for the next game of ping pong.The problem is when the vows are taken seriously and promise faithfulness, and the behavior is adultery. Presto, bingo, really big, fundamental, life-time serious conflict. End of the marriage and everything serious it was supposed to mean.I have much more in…Traditional marriage? Terrific. Open marriage? If some couple wants that, okay by me — my sympathies are for their children. But open marriage behavior with traditional marriage vows? Really big, super serious bummer.

          3. Sandy

            Definitely agree that it’s the biggest bummer of life.In reality, there are always many signs that a spouse has potential for bad behavior, before you get married. You see even worse signs during marriage, before you have kids together.It’s important to ask yourself why you disregarded those signs, and what you can learn for next time – rather than blaming your spouse for your own choices in life.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            It can be very much in the interest of some women, e.g., gold diggers, to work hard to fool a man, that is, put on an act and give none of your “signs”. Some girls are just magnificent actresses on just this point. More generally, right from the crib, girls are really good at manipulating the emotions of men — when they are looking for a husband, they are much better.Instead of the poor man, who knows much more about car cam shafts or computer software than female manipulations, trying to read and take really seriously subtle clues, it would be much better for him to be able to trust the actual, given marriage vows.Then for Fred’s point, if the vows are violated, the man should be totally torqued.She fooled him, essentially deliberately, i.e., no mere spelling error in some e-mail message, in one of the biggest issues in life.And the woman? The situation is not symmetrical: If the wife cheats, then her husband can be stuck raising the child of another man. But if the man cheats, then his wife is not stuck raising the child of another woman. So, in a sense, adultery is less serious for a man. Still, the vow was broken which means that the crucial, long term promise is junk. Really bad stuff.

          5. Sandy

            Better to just be honest with yourself, no?Deep down, you knew which of your dates was a golddigger and who wasn’t.If you honestly can’t tell any difference whatsoever between good and bad people, then you have many more important things to learn, than just protecting your money.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            Better to just be honest with yourself, no?Deep down, you knew which of your dates was a golddigger and who wasn’t.I was perfectly honest with myself, but I just didn’t know. I had no good way to know.My father didn’t teach me, and that was in part because he didn’t know either. At one point he confessed “I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life trying to get back to the woman I married.” He never did.He was a great guy and treated her very well, but she became a very unhappy woman and as the years went on more and more unhappy. Eventually I figured out why, but it was not an easy exercise.My mother in law looked and acted much like like the woman inhttp://wp.production.patheo…but it took me and two other of her sons in law years to conclude that she had deserved a grand Academy Award for her magnificent performance of acting. In fact, she bitterly hated everything about her life. Her husband was a great guy, but for 20 years she made sure to hurt him even when he didn’t know she was hurting him.Indeed, once I asked an expert on women and marriage how I could know a woman really liked me, and his answer was junk.Maybe now I’m a little better off: I developed something of a secret scorecard that has good promise of working with any woman who does not know I’m using a secret scorecard or what’s on it. If she knew, then she could fake it.I repeat, girls are really good at manipulating men, and women are better.I can’t make rock solid concrete out of fluffy, blowing dust balls, even if they are pretty and pink.The problem is really serious, in a fundamental way: I saw a case of a woman leave her wealthy husband, who loved her without qualification, and gorgeous house, and great lifestyle to live with two total jerks in a tent in a commune. No joke.Lesson: Somehow Mother Nature and Darwin can take a woman and have her just determined to leave, be gone, for no good or explainable reason, to just anything different, no matter how bad. It happens.Any man who gets married needs to know that such things can happen and be not surprised and ready to take charge or at least to defend himself.

          7. Sandy

            I’ll share an easy way to discern a person’s true intentions.Ask yourself if you have liked women, only because they stroked your ego and sucked up to you like a manipulative yes man. If you answer no, that’s the wrong answer. If you insist it’s no, that’s still the wrong answer.Think about why the answer is yes for you. As I wrote, it’s always completely your own fault.Things will change in your life, as soon as you stop blaming women, and start blaming yourself for choosing the wrong women.

          8. Stephen Voris

            …I can’t help but think that moralizing at someone in this fashion is unlikely to change their mind. Especially when, thanks to that delightful absence of tonal nuance afforded to written English, it is likely to be read in the most accusatory fashion possible.

          9. Sandy

            I hear you.If something fails again and again over decades though, it’s important to ask yourself, whether your failures might have something to do with your choices.We want to believe that success is mostly just dumb luck, because we don’t have to take responsibility for our choices that way. It’s disingenuous to purport luck though, because although it’s a people pleasing thing to say, you’re not actually helping anyone by hiding how you actually did it.

          10. sigmaalgebra

            Things will change in your life, as soon as you stop blaming women, and start blaming yourself for choosing the wrong women. Sure, in a major sense, the problem was that I picked the wrong women.Maybe there are some good women out there: Can’t see that from me because I have seen so few examples, either up close or far away.But, I did the best I could with what knowledge, understanding, and choices I had. From the first girl I tried to be boyfriend-girlfriend with, one spring when I was 14 and in the ninth grade and she 12 and in the seventh grade, until I got married when I was 26 and she was 22, I picked the wrong women. Ask yourself if you have liked women, only because they stroked your ego and sucked up to you like a manipulative yes man They sure never “stroked [my] ego”!I liked girls for just the most standard reason — I was a boy and they were girls!What I wanted was just a good version of what I was supposed to want — compassion, commitment, affection, romance, intimacy, passion, and faithfulness, lots of communications, caring, respect, and responsiveness, honesty, and trust, solve the problem of feeling alone, have a good life with husband and wife, house and home, be mother and father, grandparents, have lots of friends, everyone busy, productive, and happy, etc.The girls/women I knew didn’t want such things, at least not with me.

        4. JaredMermey

          Reminds me of when you said you have started writing all of your emails under assumption they will one day be public.Cannot tell you how many times I decided not to send off an email or a tweet because of post-privacy and the Internet Lasts Forever phenomena.

          1. Michael Elling

            Emails today, “private” conversations & actions tomorrow. With technology where will it stop? I like the concept of Haldeman’s Forever War where stasis fields prevent everything electronic from working. We go back to talking and hugging, or shouting and hurling weapons.

        5. awaldstein

          Maybe you are right that the world will become post private.That doesn’t mean that core privacy and trust bonds between people will evolve to accept this nor that people will become more perfect.If you are right how is this anything other than large scale emotional personal turmoil?

        6. Druce

          Game theory! If a transgression benefits the transgressor and you can only catch 10% of transgressors, you need to set a 10x the benefit penalty to make them indifferent to transgressing.If you eventually catch all of them, you can make the penalty more in line with the costs. But you still need a penalty, you can’t just tolerate crappy behavior.And if you’re dealing with people who always defect and just maximize self-interest in a prisoner’s dilemma type situation, you shouldn’t get into those situations, ie any dealings based on trust as opposed to arms’ length self-interest.Like, say, marriage.

        7. Richard

          There are hacks going on in the baby monitor market. Still feel the same way?

        8. PhilipSugar

          I think the “post privacy” world argument is used by many tech companies to explain why they are fast and loose with their data.I understand breaches, but I do not accept when your TOS say one thing and you purposely do not live up to that.This is common.You’ve invested in Duck, Duck go.Yes you have to realize if something gets out everybody is going to know and yes maybe because of that we have to be more accepting of small shit.But there is a line somewhere. For instance if you are a child molester today everybody will know where you live. Now does that supposed to mean I am more accepting??

        9. SubstrateUndertow

          “it is about a post privacy world”Is it really a given that cyberspace as a technological extension of our physical/emotional/intellectual personas cannot be so constructed as to preserve our primal need for basic security/privacy/autonomy ?Abandoning security/privacy/autonomy is more about our, at present, immature/cavalier approach to constructing cyberspace topographies that almost completely over looks these crucial priorities as the present land-grab/gold-rush early implementation/monetization phase plays out.Like fools of old we again rush in to embrace the new possibilities/powers/conveniences of our latest technological magic.That is, of course, as it should be. Discovery is by its very nature an iterative process of trial/error.But the scope of change and risk inherent in this brave new world of organically-integrated-everything cyber-tech-topographies is a quantum break with all previous human technological extensions.As an analogue cyberspace-topographies are radioactive social/personal bio-extensions that should be treated with the respect and caution that attend all hot chain-reaction processes.I’d make the case that retrofitting our cyberspace security/privacy/autonomy topography-priorities is much more urgent than generally appreciated as a radioactive-process stitch-in-time is orders of magnitude more than 9.Cyber topographies that preserve our basic security/privacy/autonomy are like control rods that allow individuals to provide distributive inertia dampening against the potential big-brother radioactive-runaway dangers lurking in a purely corporatistcontrolled substrate of hidden algorithmic-bureaucracies.Even for a organic-collectivist such as myself the individual still has a sacrosanct steerage role to play in cyberspace !

        10. sigmaalgebra

          Messing up database security — can understand that. E.g., security in Windows and SQL Server look like train wrecks.Violating a traditional marriage vow? E.g., with adultery, forgive that? No way. The vow, the contract is canceled; the person who committed adultery is forever not able to give a marriage vow that would be taken seriously.In traditional marriage, love making is not just friction but actual love and a reaffirmation of the marriage itself. One case of cheating says that love making doesn’t mean love and, thus, kills such a marriage.In a traditional marriage, adultery is not like just a simple mistake, e.g., a misspelled word in e-mail, but is a profound lie.Of course, could regard love making as just friction. If some marriage vows are clear on that, then okay for that couple — I have sympathy for their children. Then cheating is much the same as just a telephone busy signal.I explain in much more detail elsewhere in this thread at

      2. LE

        Would VCs be so progressive ifOf course not. In a nutshell lack of empathy for something that doesn’t have impact or doesn’t matter to them personally. If it had relevance or impact it would matter a great deal more I am sure.Most marriages are built on a promise of faithfulness — an exclusive rights contract, if you will.Exactly. The way I want it for myself. That said I can accept that others may want a different type of relationship and I wouldn’t place that desire high on the “bothers LE scale” (where for example a man becoming a woman totally weirds me out and is very high on that same scale.) However if my daughter were to enter into that relationship it would bother me because the impact would hit closer to home.

    5. Mario Cantin

      Buddy, I was looking to say more or less the same thing. You beat me to it, and you’ve said it better than I undoubtedly would have. Right on.

    6. fredwilson

      that’s not really the point. the point is people do behave badly and now we are going to know about it.

      1. LIAD

        “Forgive and forget”

        1. awaldstein

          People forgive but we rarely forget.That’s the dynamic of relationships and groups.

      2. LE

        I took what you wrote as agreeing [1] with what Albert was saying which, in part, was this, which I think is where Liad is coming from:Instead what we need is to acknowledge that affairs are part of human behavior. There is lots of reason to believe that humans aren’t naturally monogamous. If you want a great read on this topic, I highly recommend “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.”To me it’s very clear what the above paragraph says. (And it can be triangulated by the entire paragraph.) As you know, I think most of us have already gotten past the point of caring if Bill Clinton has affairs or if Barrack Obama smoked pot and did cocaine. And if Jimmy Carter had “lust in his heart” (back in the 70’s no less). Therefore it seemed to me at least that Albert’s comment (and your approval of his comment) meant simply that someone should understand and forgive a spouse that cheated and give them a “get out of jail free card” for doing so.I don’t accept that and I would guess that neither would Liad. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t forgive a spouse that cheated if actually confronted with that situation but certainly not in advance state that it’s “understandable”. To me that sounds close to an open marriage.[1] You say “Mind you, I don’t disagree with Albert’s point at all”

      3. Pankaj Garg

        People do behave badly and I think with time system ensures this doesnt become a practice rather system evolves to keep a check on such behavior. I believe privacy is being underrated here and in the load of customer acquisition or personalisation privacy is being sidelined for some time but it wont last long.

      4. nlivnat

        asimov explored this in “the dead past”, a short story published in ’56 (…. everyone will be living in a fish bowl.

      5. Twain Twain

        Maybe this answers @greg kieser ‘s question wrt, “I proposed that encryption might be a method for us to protect ourselves from that risk. I’m less concerned about flawed humans getting moralistic on me than I am about superintelligent AI finding away to exploit me.”My follow-on question was whether Blockchain encryption could be a moral tool.Well, this article showed up today.*…My view is the machines have no morals other than the ones conferred to them by the people who code-create them and by the people who use them (whether for moral, immoral or amoral reasons).In a post-privacy Blockchain world it will still be people who define and set the bars for what’s moral, private, shareable and intelligent.

        1. Twain Twain


          1. William Mougayar

            The way I see it is that field is focused on encrypting transactions now. I think content is coming next.

          2. Twain Twain

            What role will Google play in this encrypted, post-privacy world? Particularly since their databases contain and filter a lot of content.They’re advocating for microchip RFIDs that we swallow like little pills every day.”Once that pill is in your body, you could pick up your smartphone and not have to type in a password. Instead, you are the password. Sit in the car and it will start. Touch the handle to your home door and it will automatically unlock. “Essentially, your entire body becomes your authentication token,” Ms. Dugan said.”*…* http://bits.blogs.nytimes.c…Plus Google’s Ray Kurzweil would like to put nanobots in our brains:*…Article says: “Kurzweil is thinking far beyond Glass, to devices even smaller and more powerful than tiny text ads. Really small.”Ultimately these devices will be the size of blood cells, we’ll be able to send them inside our brain through the capillaries, and basically connect up brain to the cloud,” Kurzweil says. “But that’s a mid-2030’s scenario.”In Kurzweil’s vision, these advances don’t simply bring computers closer to our biological systems. Machines become more like us. “Your personality, your skills are contained in information in your neocortex, and it is information,” Kurzweil says. “These technologies will be a million times more powerful in 20 years and we will be able to manipulate the information inside your brain.”As that data locked up inside our brain becomes searchable, inimitable human qualities suddenly become easier to emulate.”===> implications for how Google sees Machine Intelligence.===> implications for post-privacy world.===> implications for content, trust & authentication.——@fredwilson:disqus

    7. LE

      Agree 100%. Maybe there is a Jewish cultural difference. Being raised with Jewish guilt where you are definitely held accountable for your actions. Instead, it seems, in Christianity you can do practically any sin and then go to confessional and be forgiven for what you have done. I’ve seen people who have had their children murdered and then they forgive the killer. Yes, I understand that’s a mind trick that allows them to get past the incident (stop perseverating about the tragedy and move on!) and has value to them personally. However I would argue it is not a net gain for society to offer such easy forgiveness. In Judaism, massive shame from your parents, by your peers etc. No such thing at least that I know of regarding being so easily forgiven.. ..I think it was just the other day I read that the Pope said that abortion was still a sin but people could now go to the confessional, admit the sin, and have it wiped out. Must somehow relate to keeping then pinning to get to heaven. Why? Well, if they already know they aren’t going to heaven they would figure sins don’t matter! And they would ramp up the bad behavior. Kind of like “1 strike and you are out” but you get a million do overs.Ok, here it is. I mean seriously, what a crock of shit all of this is:Pope Francis shook up the Catholic world — again — on Tuesday by announcing that priests around the world will be authorized to forgive the “sin of abortion” when the church begins a “Year of Mercy” this December. Above simply is a realization of religion not mattering as much as it used to. Otherwise no reason to give up absolute power and control and reform. I have seen similar things happen within Judaism. All of the sudden they are cutting much better deals with “compliance”. Doesn’t happen to a market leader with plenty of action. Happens when things are falling out of favor and becoming less relevant.[1]…Edit: Feel free to correct me as I may have put Christians where I meant Catholics.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Ask the Catholics, they might have the market cornered on guilt!! : )

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Ah, there’s a long back story:People have a lot of natural fear, e.g., of things that go bump in the night.Along comes someone saying that there is sin, and you have to be afraid of theconsequences. In England, that was the morality plays.Along came the Roman Catholic church that explains many sins and says that you can be forgiven — of course, have to give 10% or else how the heck to build the Bishop’s Residence in Würzburg.Here that church was also looking for a lot of political power, and did get it and took advantage of it.Now it looks like the Pope is back to looking for the 10% again.

        1. LE

          When I had my first business there was a purchasing agent that I dealt with that was studying to be a priest. He told me it wasn’t unusual for members of the church to buy cars for priests or something like that. In Judaism of course as a kid I realized that there were members who attended synagogue religiously and gave no money, or very little, (there is a membership fee of course) and those who didn’t attend at all. They merely gave money to the shul and it was of course quite welcome. The beg a thon came during the high holidays where they gave you an envelope and you folded over a tab that marked how much you were giving (in addition to the cost of the seats in the synagogue in addition to the membership fee). Paid for the Rabbi and the Rabbi emeritus and there houses and salary and all operating expenses. (They also made money for attending funeral (you tip them) and other religious functions. All tips typically. )To your point having arbitrary rules which you can waive (for cash or for other consideration) gives you tremendous power because you have the ability to let certain people break those rules or give them a pass.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            > tremendous power.No joke! Could shame someone in the community, e.g., some little village. Could excommunicate them which could be really serious, close to a death penalty.IIRC at one time the Roman Catholic church owned a major fraction of all the farm land in France, and one thing Napoleon did was reverse some of that.My college history course wasn’t at all interested in details of such things, which were no doubt some of the most important things of all in Western Civilization.For some centuries, the Roman Catholic church was one scary, powerful collection a a-holes. But they did know how to pick a good guy to paint a ceiling.

    8. Kirsten Lambertsen

      The two are not mutually exclusive. To debate that they are is just straw man construction.

    9. SubstrateUndertow

      Forgiveness via Redemptionisn’t that christianity in a nut shell ?Wait. . . what am I talking about !GUILT & BLAME the two most influential dudes ever to cast their shadow over human affairswe can’t operate without these guys 🙂

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Oh wait. . . “a mistake with a config setting”does not cause us to give up on “a moral and civilised society”it simply accelerates our opportunities to practice that most civilized cycle of Forgiveness via Redemption

    10. PhilipSugar

      Agree. The only thing that I thought about the Ashley Madison case: If you take money and promise you are removing information from servers and knowingly don’t do it that is theft and fraud.You should go to jail.Getting hacked is one thing.Stealing from somebody??? How long do you go to jail if you pickpocket a person much less hundreds of thousands of people.

  5. awaldstein

    I read Albert regularly.Invariably he touches some uncomfortable point that I don’t want to belief but am challenged to think through.That’s why i keep coming back.

  6. Julien

    Oh, I agree so much with this. A better society is not only a society with better rules and techniques. It’s also, and more importantly, a society with better people and more empathy.The tech industry does bring amazing solutions to a lot of very complex problems (both technical and societal… like dating!), but I wish more of us would sometimes understand that tech cannot protect us from ourselves.

  7. pointsnfigures

    Let’s get out of the realm of Ashley. I have a credit card. I used it at Target. It got hacked. Forgive and forget? Sure, it’s a pain in the butt because I have to get a new credit card, switch all my payment information on autopayments etc; but because I like Target I am willing to forgive and forget. Happens again. Am I as forgiving? Happens again. Do I forgive a third time?

    1. JaredMermey

      I agree. I operate under the premise that my financial, health and other information will be compromised one day. I am ok with that.Especially for the financial products, it makes insurance, chargeback rights or zero liability policies all the more important.Separately, I am a big fan of security companies (especially for enterprise) whose products are designed under the premise that you will be breached. Fortscale, a product that analyzes user behavior when on your network to determine if their account(s) have been compromised or if the user is acting nefariously, is a good example.

    2. Greg Kieser

      Ask them to accept bitcoin after the 5th time?

    3. jusben1369

      I didn’t read the other blog post mentioned but it sounds like Fred is discussing morality and acceptance of transgressions. CC hacks aren’t in scope for say Target because no one whispers behind your back at parties if they know your card was compromised for shopping at Target or Home Depot

      1. pointsnfigures

        that is a very good point.

    4. Jess Bachman

      Trust but verify. For the third time, maybe you have some stop gap credit card that isn’t tied to anything else that you only use at Target.

    5. Rob K

      Raises an interesting question I have had for a long time about retailers and credit cards. Maybe someone here knows the answer. When I use my credit card in store, once the credit card has been processed, why does the retailer store it? What benefit do they get form doing that? The downside is pretty obvious.

  8. Greg Kieser

    My only concern about having breachable privacy is that it will make us more vulnerable to the whims of AI once their general intelligence exceeds that of humans. When Bill Gates came out on Reddit and said he was concerned about AI he was answering my question. What he didn’t answer was the second part of my question in which I proposed that encryption might be a method for us to protect ourselves from that risk. I’m less concerned about flawed humans getting moralistic on me than I am about superintelligent AI finding away to exploit me.Anybody else?

    1. Twain Twain

      A few observations:(1.) There won’t be General AI any time soon because the neuroscientists haven’t even worked out a coherent enough model for General Natural Intelligence and how our minds and thoughts really work — well beyond the simplistic functions of parallel processing and neuron layers which are mimicked in the Deep Learning models of AI from Google to IBM Watson.It’s a bit of a non-starter to confer and attribute intelligence to the machines when, in fact, they’re only capable of MATHEMATICAL CALCULATION intelligence, at most.(2.) Please read my article which further explains why and how General Intelligence doesn’t exist in the AI:*…Plus we’d have to start all over again on a blank canvas if General AI rather than narrow AI (Google, Baidu, FB, IBM Watson et al do) is what we’d like to achieve.(3.) Some AI researchers are indeed trying to encode THEIR version of a moral code into the machines:*…(4.) There’s a branch of Robot Ethics concerned with us not abusing the machines and treating them as our equals with laws to protect their usage:*…(5.) The encryption bit would indicate that Blockchain+Bitcoin could play a part.The machines, in case it’s not obvious, already made and make moral decisions for us in the financial markets.From NYT (…”Somehow the genius quants — the best and brightest geeks Wall Street firms could buy — fed $1 trillion in subprime mortgage debt into their supercomputers, added some derivatives, massaged the arrangements with computer algorithms and — poof! — created $62 trillion in imaginary wealth. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that all of that imaginary wealth is locked up somewhere inside the computers, and that we humans, led by the silverback males of the financial world, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, are frantically beseeching the monolith for answers. Or maybe we are lost in space, with Dave the astronaut pleading, “Open the bank vault doors, Hal.”As the current financial crisis spreads (like a computer virus) on the earth’s nervous system (the Internet), it’s worth asking if we have somehow managed to colossally outsmart ourselves using computers. After all, the Wall Street titans loved swaps and derivatives because they were totally unregulated by humans. That left nobody but the machines in charge.”Now, would Blockchain encryption, adopted by the financial sector, combined with Machine Intelligence replicate and ensure human morality in the system?AS YET UNKNOWN because no one’s worked that out yet. Those experiments haven’t even been started.Now, I’d make the case that morality like our perceptions, language and cultures are SUBJECTIVE.And neither encryption nor any existing form of mathematics (including Probability) are sufficiently tooled to deal with that.Hence the lack of breakthrough and impasses in Natural Language Processing and understanding (a well-known AI problem).So…in summary…the machines have a morality (trading stop limits and bounds) which are a lot narrower than our understanding of morality — for the simple reason of the limitations of mathematics as a tool to model intelligence.—————————————@wmoug:disqus – Blockchain encryption as a moral tool? Because of increased transparency? Paradoxes and oxymorons abound!

      1. Stephen Voris

        I partially disagree with your assertions on morality and mathematics – morality, at least from my perspective, is analogous to the parable of the blind men and the elephant: the whole truth is too large for a single perspective to encompass, but it nonetheless exists.As for the math, it might not be there yet, but I’d put that down as more to do with a lack of previous attention than any inherent limitation of the field. As for the human brains attempting to explore that math, well, see the previous paragraph.The “one” example you mention in your article strikes me as something that needs multiple rulers rather than a tape measure or a single ruler – basically, a “check which meaning is the most relevant” function with multiple inputs.

        1. Twain Twain

          A-ha, thanks. My only assertion on morality is that it’s subjective.I’m unfamiliar with the blind man+elephant parable so thanks for sharing.Now, the other day I read that Quantum Physicists have discovered we may be blind to 80% of the information in the Universe (the Black Holes) and only 20% of it is visible because it emits light.In some respects, this may have parallels with our models for our minds, natural intelligence and machine intelligence….As well as for private and public information. Up to 80% of information is either hidden, missing, unknown or not yet measured.Ah and the tape measure or ruler or scales thing for “one” was only provided as an example of how there are some things we can’t yet measure because the tool of measurement doesn’t exist (so invention is needed) OR we’re measuring that thing with the wrong tools.The answer is that the tool to measure words is NONE of those things.

          1. Stephen Voris

            Only 80%? Wonder what they’re basing that on – the lost information from starlight not-directed-at-us alone bumps the lost data up into more nines than I care to estimate. Probably how much they can claw back through statistical inference. The figure I’m aware of is something like 96% of the energy of the universe is invisible – that is, it neither emits nor reflects light, and is only inferred by its gravitational (or anti-gravitational) effects on the 4% that does.And agreed, there are parallels here with the human mind, and privacy, and society in general – there’s a lot of effort that goes into making things effortless.Having studied some linguistics, and been in a few studies for the same, I definitely agree that there’s a lot more exploration to be done (and likely a few theoretical upsets along the way) – and the whole stack, from phonetics to pragmatics (the latter being why the answer to ‘can you pass the salt?’ is not ‘yes.’), will be necessary for natural language processing to really take off.

          2. Twain Twain

            Theoretical upsets? Hmmn, well…AI’s been doing linear thinking and narrow-minded “earth is flat” up to now. General Intelligence AI (@gregkieser:disqus ) would need us to start out with “earth is round” ideas and not to believe that putting bits of information onto square xy planes, layering up the square xy planes and putting those planes into a xyz vector space will somehow produce a sphere.It doesn’t.Square planes of bits stacked up => logic box.Free-floating atom of information => spheres of knowledge.The 4% of visible information is like what we do today when we measure consumption output and production inputs ($ goods, services and apps bought; how many times clicked on site, where the item was bought, $ cost of manufacture, number of users etc.) and then try to statistically infer the other 96% of invisible information about WHY people buy and all the factors affecting our choices and decisions.That’s an OUTPUT INFERS INPUT model which Big Data uses, compounding any pre-existing issues with the data’s comprehensiveness and reliability during the statistical inferencing.So it’s no wonder economic models repeatedly fail — when there’s a big Black Hole of unknowns and not (yet) any tool, mathematical or otherwise, to coherently collect and measure that so-far invisible information.That invisible information also being needed in Natural Language Processing for the purposes of classification and definition (@markslater:disqus , @jessbachman:disqus, @kwiqly:disqus).How have things been defined to date? Well, as an example, a handful of academics (aka, 3-6 people who set the lexical databases against which all NLP checks itself) have, top-down, claimed to be a sufficiently representative sample population for the 1.5 billion English speakers in the world.So the norms of these 3-6 people or handful of academics is supposedly the same as the norms of 1.5 billion English speakers?!!!Theoretical upsets? Ha!The new model would disrupt not only Natural Language and Machine Intelligence but also economics (including definitions of morality, privacy and security), Neuroscience, Quantum Physics, Mathematics, psychology and more.The 80% figure relating to dark matter information in the Universe is in this article:*…The article on neuroscientists, suggesting we need to build an INTERNAL model to understand our intelligence and not just the functions of parallel processing and node structures which is what AI has done so far, is here:*…Now, let’s just say that long before the leading Quantum Physicists, Neuroscientists and AI researchers proposed we go look into the “dark matter” of intelligence, MIT’s Max Tegmark postulated the existence of “Perceptronium, the most general substance that can feel subjectively self-aware” and suggested we think more about internal models that affect external actions…The US Patent Office published my system which is very very different from legacy, narrow-minded “earth is flat” approaches to Intelligence.My quest is to enable us to see more of the so-far invisible intelligence that we haven’t been able to see so far because the tools we needed hadn’t been invented.Then all 7+ billion people will be able to define morality, security, economics and what it means to be human to our hearts’ content.Plus then the machines’ frameworks for every thing will be determined and set by the wisdom of crowds rather than a handful of unrepresentative academics.Theoretical upsets? Aplenty. Haha.We, the earth, the Universe and Schrödinger’s Cat are…ROUND.And Da Vinci lit the way forward long before Descartes and Bayes came along and diverted us down the linear, narrow-minded, put everything into a logic box paths of thinking that has affected economic models and how we build AI, alike.

          3. Twain Twain

            Earth is flat => EARTH IS ROUND.Information is a bit => Information is an atom.Intelligence is a box => Intelligence is a sphere.

    2. fredwilson

      you should talk to Albert about encryption. he thinks that’s a winless war and that we need to change our expectations because there is no security that is absolute.

      1. John Rhoads

        The lock doesn’t keep you out, it slows you down so the patrol can find you

      2. LE

        The problem and the reason it’s a winless war is not because of the bad guys. It’s the good guys. That’s right. It’s because of the security industrial complex of good guys. It’s the reason that not a day goes by where I don’t have to update a computer with some software patch almost exclusively security related. Not because there is an actual threat, but because some pale researcher has discovered a theoretical threat, released or blogged about the issue and seeded the bad guys with knowledge. So they can get fame and fortune badges (after all most are gamers, right?) or as a business model to justify their existence and earn a living. The toll on business is enormous. This has easily replaced (and I am serious) lawyers as the scourge and drag on society.They of course have the wrap going as far as that they are simply doing god’s work and helping the public. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth.

  9. Brad Lindenberg

    Imagine WhatsApp or iMessage get hacked. I think that’s worse. Lots of private stuff goes on there.

  10. bob

    to me, the biggest societal change is not about ashley madison, but about the way we are “training” our next generations that face-to-face, interactive ORAL communications are essentially superfluous. Texting your mom to say “hi” rather than calling. Sitting across the table from another teenager and texting rather than communicating. Oral communications skills are vital to our society, and technology is vanquishing them at a frightening rate. The problem with human interaction is that it’s not truly investable, even though without it society as we know it will crumble. Imagine “peace talks” by text, skype calls instead of candlelit dinners, and intellectual arguments in webex. I believe this train has left the station and hope USV can find innovative investments in human facilitation…

    1. Michael Elling

      That’s a function of the underlying high cost of bandwidth. Once that comes down and 2-way HD video collaboration becomes as ubiquitous as text, then we’ll get back to a face-2-face world of oral communication. It’s just that we remonopolized the access layers about 10-15 years ago and the core has or is going to vertical silos (look at the control of advertising spend in mobile by FB, Google and Twitter) mainly because of mobile’s limited screen real estate. Web 3.0 (aka the smartphone/mobile revolution) was a step forward in ubiquity and 7×24 access and contribution, but a step back in terms of bandwidth. We’re still in a sub 10megabyte application world, where the majority of applications still need only kilobytes of transmission to work.

  11. Twain Twain

    Implications for healthcare and financial data and the legacy notions of morality and amorality.At its simplest, morality governs us doing what we believe to be “in the greater good” and which is not private (see Hobbes Leviathan, Ch 17:….Amorality, though, seems to be some type of private decision-making mechanism which works in the opposite of morality.The fascinating thing about technology is the velocity at which our inherited philosophical frameworks are being reconfigured.

    1. leapy

      Actually, I *think* you’ll find that Amorality is making decisions in the complete absence of a moral framework – not working “in the opposite of morality” per se; they often may well align depending on the decision inputs.Your last line is the killer point. There are many different philosophical frameworks around the world. Morality in Europe (as pertains to “fidelity” in marriage for example) is verry different from North American norms. Other areas of the world are different again. None is definitively right or wrong, they just are.Technology, as you say, is rapidly creating/imposing a new framework where expectations of privacy (and the exposure of hypocracy) are shifting. This is what I took from Fred’s and Albert’s writings. In order for society to survive intact then we need a flexible and responsive response – architected for failure in much the same way as IP networks themselves.

      1. Twain Twain

        So let’s all wonder how this can be architected and coded into the TCP/IP and Blockchain protocols.

  12. JamesHRH

    You mean Zuck’s let’s all be more open mantra was;t just a ploy to get more FB traffic?

    1. Twain Twain

      Open whilst in a walled garden?

  13. Jayson Montebianchi

    I agree. No matter how well we secure something, there will always be someone to challenge it. One of the greatest challenges is identity, we need to move away from using social security numbers to identity people across all mediums. Damage achieved is never ending.

  14. LIAD

    Yesterday. One of the top news stories in the UK was about a Sexual Health clinic in London, the biggest in Europe, accidentally sending a email newsletter to HIV positive patients using CC rather than BCC. Effectively outing hundreds of people against their will.Cause was literally pasting in the email addresses to the wrong field. Pure and simple avoidable human error.Should the patients forgive and forget?

    1. Chimpwithcans

      They could very well forgive and forget, but i don’t think that is the point of Fred’s post. Presumably there was no malice involved, which makes it a mistake, and a completely different topic.

    2. fredwilson

      you are misunderstanding the point. this kind of thing is going to happen. what we need is a society that doesn’t discriminate against HIV positive people. because they will never be able to keep that a secret. was my post that badly written that you don’t understand the point?

      1. LIAD

        This HIV clinic comment is misplaced. Has no relevance to the post. My bad.My other comment stands. I think you are positing that as bad behaviour’ will get outed. We might as well just accept the behaviour’. That doesn’t work for me

        1. JaredMermey

          Take it one step further. Will what Society now calls “bad behavior” change in a post-privacy world?

        2. Rob Larson

          LIAD I think you are equating two distinct concepts. The first is societal standards of what should be accepted as good behavior / bad behavior. You are correct that we should absolutely NOT lower our standards.The second concept is how should we treat people who are outed as not living up to the standard of good behavior. Should we do the 21st century version of burning them at the stake? Get them fired from their job? Publicly humiliate and condemn them?Or should we forgive the sinner even while we condemn the sin? (Recognizing that all of us fall short of our standards from time to time, even as we try to do better and try to help others do better.)

          1. Rob Larson

            LIAD – wait, I think I need to take back what i said about you misunderstanding Fred – I just read Albert’s piece. IF Fred is saying he agrees with Albert that we should be accepting of affairs, then I am with you, and revert to my first point: we should not lower our standards.(But I still DO maintain that society should be more forgiving of others, which I think is Fred’s main point)

          2. LE

            Should we do the 21st century version of burning them at the stake?That’s the media and quite frankly I don’t see how that is relevant to a guy who goes on Ashley Madison and then his wife finds out. All he cares about is what his wife thinks and maybe his family. He doesn’t give a shit (nor do I) if I find out a public figure has been on that site and then has problems with his wife or gets a divorce. That’s entertainment and nothing more.

          3. Rob Larson

            That’s entertainment and nothing more. The people involved don’t feel that way. And the “public figure” line for moral condemnation is expanding WAY beyond celebrities and politicians. For example, nowadays it seems to include all CEOs, no matter the size of the company. And all teachers. Should we be campaigning to get school teachers fired because of transgressions in their personal lives?I agree with your other point, if I read you right–if a man promises fidelity to his wife, then cheats on her and gets caught, regardless of the technology involved, then she has every right to be upset with him, and we have no business trying to convince her that she should just accept that “affairs are part of human nature”

          4. LE

            Should we be campaigning to get school teachers fired because of transgressions in their personal lives?Well keep in mind that nobody is firing a public school teacher (with a union contract no less) for the type of transgression that we are talking about here.The people involved don’t feel that way. And the “public figure”Live by the sword die by the sword. If you decide to be a public figure, rich guy, well known person, successful, or anyone who might be of general interest to the public for any number of reasons then that is the life that you have chosen (or been dragged into) and along with several houses, frequent travel, and no money worries comes an additional set of problems that the bridge and tunnel crowd do not have. There is upside and there is downside.Let’s take Fred as one example. He blogs and he is well known for various reasons. Not publicity shy. Has money. Would be someone that almost certainly the NY Post would write about anything and everything going on his his life. Then take JLM or Waldstein or Jeff Carter or William or Liad or yourself. Not going to make the NY Post (or the Chicago Tribune or Philly papers etc.) nobody cares about you and what you do unless it’s really a big deal. So with great fame and fortune comes an entire set of problems. Just like being Barbra Streisand or Brad Pitt but on a smaller scale. Something that Brad or Barbara were not told when they went after the brass ring.I am not saying that it doesn’t suck however that is the life that they have chosen.

          5. Rob Larson

            I am more pessimistic than you about the safe harbor zone for non public figures. Seems like every month I read about public outcry against someone because of some video or image that surfaces of them doing/saying something stupid, who inevitably gets fired and then has a hell of a time finding another job. Teachers (presumably non-tenured) who had once posed naked for pictures/videos. Sales managers who are rude to drive through employees. Etc. etc. The NY Post might not consider these newsworthy, but social media does. These days we are all “the media” – facebook shares are nearly as effective at getting public opinion riled up as a NY Post article.One example worthy of note is racism. Other than being found a child molester, I can’t think of anything that will destroy someone’s reputation and get them fired faster than a recording of them saying something racist. That is an unpardonable sin in our society. On the bright side, that has drawn attention to the issue, and probably helped people introspectively reduce the racial bias hiding in themselves. On the flip side, EVERYONE has racial and/or other biases to one degree or another. Don’t believe it? Take the test here and find out exactly how biased you are: https://implicit.harvard.ed…. There are better ways to address this issue (e.g., open conversations) than by destroying the lives of people that get found out (many of whom didn’t believe/realize they were being racist prior to the incident). Society needs to be more forgiving and give people the opportunity to grow/improve, whatever their shortcomings are.

          6. LE

            Agree 100% with the “destroying lives” theme as being wrong it’s as if with social media there is a vote and a witch hunt on every issue. No way for anyone to be honest and further any discussions. Free speech out the window. And by the way has nothing to do with whether or not people do or do not have biases or to what degree. I simply don’t believe it should be a big deal for someone to not be politically correct and say most things obviously there are always going to be exceptions.

          7. Rob Larson

            Agreed. My point about everyone having biases was just that, not only is it wrong to destroy lives over this, but that in most cases the people leading the witch hunts are examples of the pot calling the kettle black, without realizing it. (If we all are biased, we shouldn’t be so severe in our condemnation of those whose biases are a little stronger than our own.)

          8. Stephen Voris

            I’m reminded of another article I ran across (relatively) recently on this topic – the short version is, more or less, that forgiveness shouldn’t be automatic, nor automatically withheld.

          9. Rob Larson

            Thought provoking analysis of red/blue tribalism and human behavior. Enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing

      2. LE

        was my post that badly written that you don’t understand the point?Yes. There was a great deal of ambiguity and Rorschach in what you wrote and it didn’t help that you “agreed with Albert” because then anything he said was added to the mix. And Albert seemed pretty clear.

      3. LE

        what we need is a society that doesn’t discriminate against HIV positive peopleThat sounds to me like “accept failure, don’t work to improve or change”.Same mistake made with alcoholics by telling them “you will always be an alcoholic” or with drug addicts or with people who are serial killers. Once you kill you will never be able to stop.The answer to data breaches is not to learn to accept HIV or accept credit card theft and bake it in to the system. It’s to work harder to prevent it from happening. Which is totally separate from trying to accept HIV. Not to give up and just not bother locking your doors at all.

  15. jason wright

    hypocrisy is being eroded, and that’s a good thing.

  16. Tom Labus

    Post in Congress

  17. Salt Shaker

    Russian hackers got into my Schwab account. Literally almost stole $99K, although my liability was capped. Am I suppose to “forgive and forget”? There are different types of transgressions and the notion that “forgive and forget” should be universal is not only morally compromising, but dangerous too. Actions have consequences, as they should.

  18. William Mougayar

    We are under-estimating what the new cryptography can do. Personal cryptography is coming.Decentralization means that you own your data. What if there are no more central databases that can be hacked? What if the data is entirely distributed and decentralized? That makes the job of hackers a lot more difficult.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Now that’s forward thinking. I hope this is how it plays out.

    2. Chimpwithcans

      If someone can create it, presumably someone can break it too? Or at least work the system?

      1. William Mougayar

        well, that “someone” is more than 1. there are private keys involved and they could be multi-sig, and be physically in different locations, so it makes it really difficult to hack.

  19. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    This is in some ways about semanticsSo does marriage imply fidelity to you?For those to whom it does not perhaps we could come up with a version of married that does not imply fidelitySuggestion – we can call it unmarried !Alternative – lets live in a world where a promise is a provisional statement that means nothing to anyone. Pretty hard running an economy or building a relationship on that !I will stick with marriage implying fidelity – Anyone has a problem with that ? – deal with it!

    1. Richard

      The answe to fidelity is to Marry someone you enjoy having sex with

  20. Chimpwithcans

    Absolute truths include one’s digital trail on the internet – it is a reflection of your true self. Privacy and Morality are not absolute. In South Africa until the late 80’s it was morally acceptable to disallow black people from public swimming pools. Morality is a narrative we have to keep on and on telling ourselves as a society. It therefore is up for question and for re-definition. Nice post. (A phrase containing Cats among Pigeons comes to mind).

  21. christopolis

    Society forgiving people? Can society also digest a good steak dinner? I think the forgiveness needed might be from the spouse. Or the actual individual human being that was harmed. You guys are truly nuts.

  22. Jess Bachman

    Eh.. proper encryption just needs to become a default behavior. Feels like this conversation could be moot if we all got our shit together.

    1. William Mougayar

      yes, it’s coming, but it will solve the problem partially i think.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Yeah.. we will look back on this time not as a post-privacy world.. but as a pre-encryption world.

  23. Erin

    I think I know what Fred and Albert are talking about. Carl Jung (and Freud) wrote about the shadow self- the unconscious part of the human psyche that longs to be reconnected to and integrated into our conscious self, but for whatever reason we have rejected it because our parents told us it was bad or embarrassing or too overwhelming. Jung’s thesis (which has been the experience of many a psychotherapy client) is the more we repress our shadow, the more distorted and sinister and therefore damaging to our own lives it becomes. Given the puritanical response to to AM outings (admittedly, I was one of those puritanical voices), we should be ashamed of ourselves for our hypocrisy as we ALL have dirty secrets. Having two “selves” to integrate is part of the human experience, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Basically I think Fred/Albert is saying we need to stop gasping whenever we find out someone’s got some skeletons in their closet because we all have them and need to focus on our own journey. Am I right? (However I do believe Noel Biderman deserves a special place in hell for seducing men into thinking affairs were more common and therefore more acceptable than they are). (And actually I do believe he is living his personal version of it right now.)

  24. William Mougayar

    Yes, I think we should be less shocked about people’s “secrets” and more shocked about atrocities being committed by ISIS, global poverty, inequality, corruption, peace & war, terrorism, etc. Let’s be shocked about these bigger problems facing the world, and let’s be shocked if we don’t solve them collectively.

    1. awaldstein

      Nicely said but feels a bit in the stratosphere looking down on human behavior.I agree obviously with the atrocities piece but this is wishing for human behavior to jump beyond itself.Individual breaks of trust and faith will simply not be washed away as less important just because they are interpersonal and not global events.Life happens to each of us one at a time.That ain’t gonna change.

      1. William Mougayar

        I’m not condoning bad behaviors, but saying let it be. It’s their problem.But I am frustrated by the world’s inability to solve some big global issues, by virtue of thinking “it’s their problem.” We need a Bill Gates with geo-political powers.We use force where force wasn’t needed, and diplomacy where diplomacy doesn’t yield anything. We don’t know how to solve global issues anymore. They all start local, yes, but they spread, and that’s a bad thing.

        1. LE

          I am in the camp of thinking that we should spend our time (and Bill’s time) on issues that are in our country or in countries that matter to us. Simply because there is a lack of resources to help the entire world and a dollar spent in a country not relevant to our own well being is a dollar less spent in our country that we need.

          1. William Mougayar

            I tend to agree with you, but for Bill Gates, it’s a personal mission he’s on. He’s not a government rep. The world was good to him, and he wants to give back to the world.

          2. LE

            The great paradox about Gates is that it’s a true Robin Hood. I mean in all seriousness he absolutely positively “did the nasty” to the technology world and to people with his piece of shit operating system and all of the aggravation created by Windows and how much it sucked (just like many computer products and software I might add). So now that he is on top he can be all elder statesman with his ill gotten gains. How much anxiety and medical problems were created by any number of non functioning windows annoyances, bugs or system halts? And yes, shit like that does matter in terms of the human condition. (It is suffering of the mental type..)Did you forget Microsoft, Netscape and “cut off their air supply?” Nice move! Oh yeah, it’s strictly business. (Guess what people lose their jobs when things like that happen and they kick the dog and fight with their spouses. Lot’s of pain.)…Microsoft, like any large corporation (or even small business) are not saints. They clean up the moral mess afterwords by giving to charity to cleanse themselves.People in business are definitely positively not what they appear to be and certainly not what they are after they have had a life changing event (as I suspect Gates has reason he retired) where they are all about good and world change. This is a guy who did everything he could to get ahead in the world. I don’t fault him for doing what is best for him just pointing out that people forget the Gates during the formative years.

        2. awaldstein

          With you on that.As long as we don’t fool ourselves into thinking that privacy and all that we hold dear about it is going to somehow, magically, not matter.

        3. Michael Elling

          You’re talking Trump. Ha!

          1. William Mougayar

            not intentionally…

  25. Cookie Marenco

    Okay, I’ll admit I was “outed”… by Facebook. When I first signed up long ago, they insisted on my birthday (which I never disclose because I’m OLD and a woman) but assured me it would never be made public. So, I lied about the date. Last year, my birthday suddenly appeared (wrong date and all) and I can’t delete, hide or change (unless someone reading this knows the trick).It’s a little tough to explain how I started my business the same year I was born, but I’m over it now. Fortunately, I never posted my cell phone number.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Did the exact same thing. Now, I stay away from FB. I really feel “watched” there.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Same here.. I put in the wrote date and year as a joke and can’t change it. Now im 110 years old!

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Ha! I like so many was born on January 1 😉

          1. Jess Bachman

            Well, a belated happy new years and birthday then. The one benefit of being a facebook centurion is that I can tag (and photoshop) myself into really old photos.

          2. Cookie Marenco

            Me too! Jan 1 1980! I greyed early/

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Just what was it about Zuck that let you guess you could trust him, at all?

        1. Cookie Marenco

          I didn’t trust FB. I lied about my birthday. But my address is now public knowledge regardless of whether I signed up or not. The post came from another Facebook member who’s location was being tracked by FB and he mentioned my name in association. I had no control. FB won’t remove the post. I don’t think I should have to prove I own the house to get it off.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Well, you “trusted” FB enough to register with your real name? If you didn’t do that and are not a public person, then you might have legal action. IANAL.

          2. Cookie Marenco

            Are you a lawyer?

          3. sigmaalgebra

            IANAL — I am not a lawyer!

      3. Cookie Marenco

        Yep! I use Facebook with the understanding I’m being ‘watched’. I share only witty business quips, easy garden tips and carefully edited clips. No politics or use of brand names. “Happy Talk”. I save my best for Disqus.. LOL… though, I have a couple of accounts because I really don’t want my customers to find me blabbing away about biz.

    2. Richard

      Don’t feel bad, Anyone post 40 who doesn’t shave off a few years off their birthday will live to regret it too !!

    3. PhilipSugar

      Agree so completely. That is exactly my point, people say, oh well there is no privacy don’t worry about downloading my address book or using cookies to take what I search for and try and email me.No, you made a commitment live up to it.

      1. Cookie Marenco

        THANK YOU! I’ve started using a dummy gmail account to sign up for sites that say they want my address book. When I signed up for Facebook, I was careful to read the privacy terms. They broke the deal. Sad state of affairs. That wasn’t a hijacking.

        1. PhilipSugar

          We are in 100% agreement. I know so many tech people that say well there is no privacy as an excuse to not live up to their terms or do things secretly when they come out they are horrible.

  26. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Maybe you should have titled it, “nobody’s perfect?” :-)It is hard to separate this kind of data breach from activity like doxxing. It’s one thing for the world to learn my medical history or arrest record, it’s another for it to learn where I and my children live. Doxxing trashes lives and puts them in danger. Has the AM breach put anyone in danger, I wonder?It’s an interesting question whether or not privacy is a right or a choice. I like William’s vision of a world without centralized databases of personal information. It makes all kinds of sense to me.

    1. leapy

      Yes, it does to me too. I really like Doc Searl’s writing on this issue. Over ten years ago, he wrote a great article for Linux Journal on this very point. I cannot find it now.He works in the area of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) as opposed to the currently more usual CRM (Customer Relationship Management).If you don’t know him, his wikipedia page is here:

    2. Cookie Marenco

      I completely agree. I was really upset when Facebook posted my home location without my permission because another Facebook member made mention of it. The requirement by Facebook to remove the location was a lot of documentation to prove I was the owner… funny, they didn’t need the documentation to post it in the first place. Location privacy is tops on my list. Second is the cell phone… although I believe health information could be also devastating for some people when searching for jobs. That doesn’t affect me as much — right now.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        My real name is not on FB. You have an example of why. Similarly for LiinkedIn. And Disqus.I’m not trying to be famous or use my real name to join a group. “Any group that would have me as a member I wouldn’t want to join.”

    3. Vasudev Ram

      >whether or not privacy is a right or a choiceIt can be both.

  27. Chimpwithcans

    So this begs the question – who is watching us here at AVC, and are we all forgiven for our sins?? 😉

  28. jusben1369

    Farhad and Albert appear to making the same argument but there are are important distinctions that actually put them at loggerheads vs being in the same camp. Albert appears to be arguing that having an affair shouldn’t be seen as a moral failure because we (humans) are not designed for monogamy and are thus set up to fail. Farhad on the other hand isn’t questioning that this is a moral failing but is arguing technology is moving us all into glass houses from brick so think twice about throwing stones when someone else does something immoral.

  29. conorop

    There is an interesting divide between secrets that only affect yourself and secrets that negatively affect others.If someone from the LGBTQ community is not out but gets outed by someone hacking a support site they frequent, I would push my ill will towards the hackers.In the case of Ashley Madison, the intent and subsequent actions to signup for the site will, presumably, hurt other parties. In this case, those that signed up are knowingly playing with fire.A couple other ways to interpret Farhad’s quote are, “If you knew you were on camera, would you act the same way?” or “If you were talking about another person without them present, would you say the same thing to their face?”

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Really good pointA couple other ways to interpret Farhad’s quote are, “If you knew you were on camera, would you act the same way?” or “If you were talking about another person without them present, would you say the same thing to their face?”Yes I try to live by these – but I do not always succeed

      1. conorop

        Same here! But the number of decisions I’m proud of has gone up exponentially since I started asking myself that question.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Improvements start with feedback (whether internal or external).Seems that moral consequence (or otherwise) is a bit of a theme today !

  30. dan_malven

    I think a very famous man once said something about how we’re all sinners, so forgiving the sins of others is kind of the deal. There was also something about glass houses and stones…

  31. J Nicholas Gross

    My buddy (an ex AMD flash memory designer) and I started working on a solution last year to a related problem, namely, how to make data truly ephemeral at the device level. Snapchat, Cyberdust, etc. are all trying to do this but on a logical level, but this can be circumvented. So we came up with a design for a new type of flash memory that effectively self-erases after it is read, ala “Mission Impossible.” This is done at a physical level so it can’t be bypassed…We spoke to some contacts at Apple (since it would be perfect for a cellphone to see pictures and have them auto-delete) but they blew us off as NIH. If anyone here has a suggestion for a contact that we should speak to about commercializing, please let me know ([email protected]) – appreciate your time. Apologies if this seems like a sales pitch, I just saw the conversation and thought the posters might have interest in this technology.

  32. Richard

    Is this a Yom Kippur Sermon or a led Zepplin Knockoff ?Brother he showed me the gongBrother he showed me the ding dong ding dongHow to kick that gong to lightOh, it’s nobody’s fault but mine

  33. Bernhard Mehl

    I don’t know if post-privacy world is the right term because essentially you want data to be visible to everyone (post privacy) or no one (e.g. encryption keys are a piece of data visible to no one ideally).

  34. thinkdisruptive

    I can’t accept this moral equivocation. It’s going to happen, so get over it and accept it? Hogwash.This argument is exactly equivalent to blaming women who dress provocatively for being raped, and refusing to call it a crime anymore. Rape is going to happen, but it isn’t women’s fault, and we shouldn’t accept it. Privacy breaches are going to happen, but I still have a right to my privacy and to seek redress, and to have the offenders prosecuted. Should I also just forgive and forget when someone smashes the lock on my bicycle and steals it, or when bullies pick on my kids and intimidate them, or when yet another mass murderer kills 50 innocent people? All these things “are going to happen”, but it doesn’t mean that we learn to accept it. Every piece of human moral code has been violated at one time or another, but just because criminals ignore the law and evil doers think they’re above it doesn’t make the law wrong and them right.The problem with Ashley Madison is that we have conflicting wrongs going on, and as my mother always said “two wrongs don’t make a right”. The users of Ashley Madison are breaking vows, trust, and fidelity with their partners. That’s wrong. Breaking into the system that enables it and exposing them is also a crime. There isn’t a middle ground here — everyone is in the wrong.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Totally agree but there are actually there are three wrongs. Ashley Madison charged money to delete your profile and didn’t do it.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Just what is it about a company that promises to foster adultery, for money, that people would regard as trustworthy?Once a friend mentioned to me one of his life’s lessons: “Lie down with a skunk and will get up smelling like a skunk.”Working with people who are in the business of helping people lie, and you want to trust them?

        1. PhilipSugar

          Agree totally, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable. If I charged millions of dollars for something I said I would do but knowingly didn’t it should be a huge issue.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Right. Your point is so clear I didn’t mention it! I just had an overview point, from 50,000 feet up — don’t deal with skunks! Then don’t have to worry about them cheating you!

          2. LE

            Yeah but the perfect crime. Who is going to join a class action lawsuit if they are in a relationship so they get notified and their spouse can see what they are doing?

          3. PhilipSugar

            So true

          4. thinkdisruptive

            It isn’t just about being held accountable for criminal wrong-doing. The real danger — when society starts to fall apart — is when good people acquiesce to evil. Einstein captured the idea well in his tribute to Casals “What I particularly admire in him is the firm stand he has taken, not only against the oppressors of his countrymen, but also against those opportunists who are always ready to compromise with the devil. He perceives very clearly that the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.”We are often inclined to turn the other way when we see bad guys doing bad things to other bad guys, but the more we do this, the more the bad behavior starts to seem normal and acceptable, or just something we’ll have to learn to live with. That is the slippery slope of moral relativism, and it’s where Fred and Albert seem inclined to let things go.There is no such thing as a “post-privacy world”. Privacy is a right, even if many choose to give it away or not fight with the companies that want to declare that your personal information belongs to them and that they have a right to sell it. Just because something is harder to protect doesn’t mean the need to protect it goes away or that we should just live with it.In fact, if I was in their (VC) shoes, I would be looking at how far the pendulum has swung with companies abrogating personal privacy for financial gain, and thinking that there is a gaping void in the market for tools to help people defend privacy.Let’s not pull punches: people who participate in a site like Ashley Madison are scumbags. They aren’t just cheating, they are planning to cheat — not getting caught up in the heat of the moment and giving in to temptation, but actually seeking out opportunities to cheat in a deliberate way, and paying for the chance to hook up with other cheaters. The character flaws run deep. As a person, I would forgive them if they admitted the wrongness of what they’ve done, but I certainly wouldn’t forget about it, and I’d have difficulty trusting them in anything else.No question, we all need to be careful not to lie down with skunks, but we also need to have a consistent moral code that defends the rights of even those who do get mixed up in these affairs. That moral code is what allows us to function as a society, and as social beings, and I want it to still be intact when I make a mistake and have to wash away the skunk smell.

          5. PhilipSugar

            Perfectly said. Agree with everything said.

  35. Emily Parsons

    Forgiving ourself and others, I like this blog post. It’s so classic in a time of fast and wacky technology being thrown at us.

  36. riemannzeta

    From a certain point of view, it can look as if the Internet itself has superseded moral deity as a source of authority for our super ego. And it’s worth noting that at least in Judeo-Christian tradition (probably others too, I just don’t know them as well), forgiveness is an important attribute of deity. You need both a sense of right and wrong and a way to forgive to get people to cooperate at scale.One interesting thing is the problem of persistence. In religious tradition, God forgives but does not forget. But that was something personal and private for the sinner to reflect on and deal with. Persistence is physical and tangible on the Internet. Forgiving but not forgetting is no longer personal and private. I guess our capacity to forgive without forgetting will be tested in new ways. But I suspect that the toughest part will be in the transition — nobody is perfect, but some were lucky enough to grow up before instagram.

  37. Michael Elling

    Because the IP stack has lacked inherent settlements we’ve had to rely on ecommerce, enterprise WAN intra & extranets, and trading in privacy (yes, think 1970s Soylent Green where we are the food) to scale the internet. Settlements provide price signals and incentives, but they also provide an economic disincentive to abusive behavior. They are one of the best forms of security. The perception that settlements are not economically or technologically viable is hogwash. Furthermore the current “open internet” peering model of bill and keep stifles new service creation and concerted adoption of new technology. We need settlements based on marginal cost to clear supply and demand east-west and north-south in the informational stack. Antithetically, the open internet stifles network effect. Mathematically provable. A case needs to be made for bilateral settlements for us to move to Web 4.0.

  38. sigmaalgebra

    “Forgiving”? Yup, but:A guy works really hard, gets a good education, builds a good career, accumulates some money, builds a house, say, starting withhttp://themusingsofthebigre…as inhttp://themusingsofthebigre…has a down payment, construction loan, and mortgage on the house, has some significant savings, has a good, late model car paid for, finds a woman that in all respects looks like she will make a good wife, and decides to invest a major fraction of everything he has, will ever have and wants, in/from life in her and a marriage with her, gets married, in front of his family, her family, many friends, a religious leader, with lots of tradition, music, flowers, nice clothes, with a big dinner before and a big party afterward, and exchanges solemn vows with “We gather together to join this man and this woman with the bonds of holy matrimony, … for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, forsaking all others, … love, honor, respect, ’till death do we part …”. He’s serious. He’s really serious. He’s the most serious he can be. He’s a good shot at being the most serious any human being can ever be or ever has been. He’s totally, 100%, bet his life serious. Indeed, to save her, he would instantly risk or give his life. He cares, really, really, really cares.He loves her, really, really, really loves her, respects her, responds to her, works to understand her, comfort her, have her be happy and smile, really cares about her, really wants her to have a good life, doesn’t want her hurt in any way, from any source, for any reason, at any time, will never knowingly hurt her, is determined to protect her, fully shares his thoughts and feelings with her, is totally committed to her and their marriage, is fully honest with her, fully trusts her, is fully trustworthy for her, is doing all he can to provide emotional and financial security, is more faithful and devoted than any golden retriever, is totally committed to their marriage vows and more, etc.He wants, just as they long carefully planned and agreed, to be husband and wife, have house and home, be mother and father, parents and grandparents, in their home with traditions, memories, accomplishments, with their friends and family, their children and their friends and families, with everyone busy, productive, happy, healthy, and secure.They have an agreement, a deal, a solemn deal, a solemn contract.But later he discovers that she, her mother, her sisters, her friends in college all sat around and discussed men, marriage, etc. and agreed that men are so easy to fool, to manipulate, to take advantage of, that really men need women more than women need men, that a marriage ceremony is just a costume farce with the groom the fool, a joke, just a lot of meaningless words. If the man took any of that seriously, then it was his fault.So, the woman has zip, zilch, and zero personal integrity. Knowing that, no one should trust her with even a small postage stamp.So, in the marriage she continues with her girlfriends. Maybe they have coffee each morning at 10 AM in the breakfast room of the nice house he built. While their husbands are working their bodies into an early grave, the women talk about men, husbands, marriage, how men get all the praise and awards, have all the power, take advantage of women who are left with nothing, just use a woman to give up the best years of her life and her career to do low grade, menial scut work to raise HIS children, and talk a lot about women’s equality, liberation, feminism, having their own lives, girls’ nights out, affairs, divorce terms, divorce lawyers, how proud they will be to get their divorce, and how much they deserve to have affairs. Ha ha, he he, men are so gullible, so easy to manipulate, and lying to them is so much fun! So, the woman goes for Ashley Madison, Tinder, Snap Chat, etc., has some affairs, and gets caught with a computer security leak.She, with no cause, deliberately, lied to him, from the first, cheated on him, took the most important part of his life, wadded it up, and threw it away like a dirty, worthless, paper towel.All her claims of love, devotion, etc. were just lies, of zero meaning.Her husband will forgive her? Based on what the heck from some moon of Pluto?Instead, she stands to come home, find the house cleaned out and sold, the credit cards canceled, the bank account empty, her car sold, him, his car, and the children gone to a foreign country where US laws can’t reach, where he gets a new wife and stepmother for his children — since their natural mother was totally unsuitable as a mother, at least he can try to get them a stepmother.It happens.The solution is to have better computer security? To “forgive”?No: The solution is to have one heck of a pre-nup, a lot of money, some significant funds stashed in, say, some secure account in, say, Switzerland, and an escape plan ready to execute all within about 120 minutes, all before the first date for coffee at Starbuck’s.The pre-nup may basically assume that she will be devoted to the marriage because she desperately needs his financial support and that three years after both her marriage and most recent baby she will be ready to leave for just anything different. She is there only one day at a time and only while the love chemicals are still working — the marriage vows are to her never more than just a costume farce.I know one guy, not me, hurt, something like in the scenario above, who wants, for a second wife, already lined up for her a high quality Mafia hit man.For the second wife, the man may remember some of the traditional advice, no doubt from some men who’d been there, seen that, and learned tough lessons, e.g., a woman’s place is in the home, barefoot, pregnant, dependent, chained to the stove, meek, sweet, secondary, submissive, subordinate, subservient, desperate to serve and please, and some of why some women were kept in harems guarded over by eunuchs. One guy with too much experience remarked about his wife: “She’s getting all frustrated. Time to knock her up again.”. So, conclude that for keeping her happy, at least not frustrated, it’s all about love chemical, a strong chemical, with no contribution from anything rational or even cognitive.I know; I know; I know; it’s all his fault for not being a much better leader to get her to understand what was important and get her on the team, productive, and happy to be on the team, get her desperate for praise and then give her a little praise but always desperate for more.Lots of kitty cats are much smarter: Are desperate to please, really like attention and petting, don’t make a mess in the house but stay clean and are perfect in their use of their litter box, etc. From just those simple points, commonly kitty cats are a long way ahead of a major fraction of US women. No joke.Right, mostly such kitty cats have been fixed and, otherwise, the males spray and the females howl. Hmm ….Lots of luck doing well just by being a good leader. Instead, the guy may just conclude that Mother Nature and Darwin were there long before he was and that have to keep the babies coming and love chemical flowing or she will get desperately unhappy — totally independent of any vows, him, their bank account, the nice house, their friends, their traditions, memories, and accomplishments, the children older than 3, etc. — and leave to just anything different, even from one of the nicest houses in the country to two jerks in a tent in a commune.There’s another, totally different approach:To summarize the situation assumed above, with a lot of tradition in at least Western Civilization and in the US, especially in the fundamental Christian community, there is a lot emphasis on marriage as a life-time bond and source of emotional and material security. Love, love making, marriage, the traditional marriage vows, family, children, parenting, security, Thanksgiving dinner, etc. are all combined in one solid, inseparable package.Well, that approach can leave a lot of children, divorcees, and widows in bad shape. And some of the community property laws can ruin a good business career and be a financial disaster.So, for the totally different approach, apparently in some of the European countries, there is more ‘socialism’ where it is accepted that at least material security is to be provided by the state, not marriage.Then the traditional marriage vows are regarded as essentially irrelevant and inappropriate, and love, love making, etc., are free to be closer to just ‘casual sex’, e.g., basically just friction.Then adultery is no more serious than, say, a telephone busy signal. Then for adultery, there’s nothing much to forgive.

    1. LE

      Would like to point out that many people stay together for more reasons than the children or because of forgiving spouse which is what they typically say. They stay together for financial reasons when confronted with the fact that divorce is costly and they will each loose easily 1/2 of their assets and have additional expenses living apart. Summer home, cars, current home, Plasma and LED Tv’s, boats, cars all of that. And cash, retirement funds and so on.You know as I said before every time you see how much some business guy is worth cut that by 55% to 65% to equal the part that will go to his wife in many cases (depends on years married, children, lawyer quality etc. of course).Worse case is a guy who has money tied up in a business. Often has to take out a loan on the appraised value in order to pay off his wife. Or vice versa goes w/o saying.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Yup. Basically they just lop off parts of the marriage vows and try to make do with the rest.It’s just really common, traditional marriage vows or not, for people to regard adultery as just not very serious, as just some harmless friction, and not meaning anything. That’s the way they regarded sexual intercourse back to their discussions with their friends in late grade school and junior high, to their first time, to their years of dating, to the hook up culture in college, to living together before marriage, and, then, into the marriage, no matter what the heck the marriage vows said. Or, they just figured that with a good supply of condoms, there was nothing wrong, and the friction was fun and felt good, so why not?Well the US fundamental Christians argue that such behavior before marriage means that sexual intercourse in marriage won’t mean much either; one of the more important bonds that keeps a marriage meaningful and together will be missing; adultery is to be expected; and the marriage will be weak.But this view is widely regarded as for kooks only. Careful study of divorce statistics may be able to show that basically that view is correct; still very few people want to hear it.So, three college freshman girls get a half gallon of vodka and some Gatorade, drink a lot of it, put on some skimpy clothes, and go together (they feel safer together) to some frat party, bar, or some such and look for hook ups. It happens. Then in marriage, how will they regard adultery? Maybe as not very serious.So, if promiscuity before marriage means adultery during marriage, and it does not always, and such a couple is going to be together, then, as you outlined, they have to find some reasons other than holding to traditional vows.As I wrote just above, just have a socialist state provide material security. Then don’t use marriage for material security. Then marriage is much less important — shack up if you want and, if you change your mind, then don’t.Marriage? Mostly only for the kids if have kids. And, wait until have at least one kid to get married. Such things have occurred to people. So, it’s not that the husband and wife are bonded but just that each is bonded to the kids.If that’s what they want, then okay by me. I see that they are giving up much of the best in life, e.g., the best solution to Fromm’s fundamental problem in life, doing something effective about feeling alone, but that’s my view and not very popular.For Fred’s issue, the problem I see for adultery is when there is a solemn promise of fidelity and then in practice adultery. The adultery is not just a spelling mistake in some e-mail but makes the solemn promise a big lie, big enough that no longer are justified in sharing a life with this person.

        1. LE

          The vows part to me is “vows schmows” to me much much more important is essentially how you yourself would want to be treated. Do you have any empathy for how the other person would feel if they found out? To me that is much more important then something that you say (primarily because let’s face it you are forced to say it).I would be curious if Fred’s daughter or son was engaged to someone who espoused essentially what Albert was saying during the dating phase what he would think. How would he feel about that? Me? That would scare the shit out of me. I mean if you can’t tow the line at the start what happens later? [1]I was really happy when I found out that my now wife is very jealous. Actually made me feel good.I remember a time in the 90’s when my ex wife called me and caller ID showed that she was not where she said she was. (At the Penn Bookstore on business). So I called her back and it was clear that she was where she said she was. She was at Penn but apparently they route calls through a local node not out of West Philly. I had never run into that before. It’s actually better that I said something rather than think she was lying to me don’t remember if she agreed or not.[1] Let’s face it there are different phases of control and if you can’t control your thoughts when you it might matter what does that mean?

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, but you are not forced to be married and, thus, not forced to say the vows. But, why not eagerly say the vows? You’d prefer a marriage with fewer vows or with vows you expect to be broken?Got something in life more serious than the seriousness with which you give some marriage vows?Really prefer to bet much or all the rest of your life on what is deliberately soft sand instead of granite rock?

          2. LE

            No my point is that those are just words and boilerplate language. Like the license on shrink wrapped software. More important someone’s character and what they actually do vs. what they say. It’s easy to say something and I guess to me has less meaning.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            No my point is that those are just words and boilerplate language. Like the license on shrink wrapped software.Not to me. I took the marriage vows as seriously as anything chiseled into granite. That’s what I wanted — a marriage as solid as granite. I didn’t get it.But, yes, also need to honor not just the literal words but also the spirit.Else, I’d insist on one heck of a pre-nup that at least protects me financially.For the traditional vows, really need a pre-nup that at least gets rid of no fault divorce. E.g., if she cheats, then out she goes with no more than the clothes on her back.Single men — shut up, sit down, and listen up. Else, you make it and she and her lawyers take it, and your house and kids, and leave you nearly back to zero.

          4. LE

            Not to me. I took the marriage vows as seriously as anything chiseled into granite.That doesn’t surprise me at all because I see you as “digital” and myself as “analog”. Hence your ability to excel in academia, numbers, science and hard info and facts. I see things more as degrees of gray and nuance and “it depends”. E.g., if she cheats, then out she goes with no more than the clothes on her back.I have to say first that I am sorry for what happened to you. And also that I have never been cheated on, or have cheated on anyone. Now that I have that out of the way, (to clear any bias I might have which is none) you have to understand, and I am not saying that this is the case with your situation, that while cheating is not to be tolerated there are legitimate reasons in some cases why someone might cheat. It all boils down to the specifics.One time many years ago I had a girl that I dated that was freshly divorced. Her husband cheated on her. (And I heard this type of thing quite frequently from many women that I dated). I thought “how terrible that he did that”. Then I spent several years with her. By the end of those years I could see why her husband cheated on her is all I can say. She was impossible to be with, mood and anger issues and totally narcissistic and unbending in what she wanted.. So I see why he bailed from the relationship which was not fixable. The woman he then married totally worshiped him (and was not a difficult “bitch”). So you know you need to know the specifics. The first wife didn’t need to worship, just not be so fucking difficult.Cheating is in a sense like jumping into a pool. Sometimes people don’t have the guts to simply say “it’s not working out” so they do something risky that means that they will be perhaps forced out of the relationship. And some things can’t be fixed because people are fucked up.I dealt with a purchasing agent who was studying to be a priest (my other comment). He told me about men who leave the home to spend time at the bar. I said “oh that’s always wrong” (being digital like you). He said “well in therapy we look for why he feels he needs to do that rather than judge that he is wrong because maybe there is something that causes him to go there”. And so on. So details matter (just like murder is often justified as an extreme measure).Bottom line: No fault divorce because details matter and the court without a long trial could never figure out who is right and who is wrong.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            The cases of cheating you described seem to be all in marriages that were essentially over anyway. I would never be able to make love to a wife who had cheated on me. Cheat — marriage is over.> That doesn’t surprise me at all because I see you as “digital” and myself as “analog”.No, I was just lonely, maybe starved for affection, and wanted a solid, lifetime solution.The relationship ended because of (1) she never took the marriage vows seriously, indeed, was eager and proud to deceive and manipulate me, and those because her mother’s teaching was that a woman should not take marriage vows seriously, and my wife had other interests and (2) she had a serious case of anxiety disease which caused her serious problems, stress, depression, struggles, more stress, clinical depression, more struggles, blaming me for her problems, running away to pursue her “own life”, failing, returning, over and over, and finally, two years after the last time I saw her, ending up back with her mother at her family farm. She called me, said, almost as a joke, “After all, we are still married.” and apparently wanted me to chase after her again.After all she had done to be a bad wife and shoot our marriage in the gut and after the two years, I just decided it was time for me to end a one sided love affair and playing the loser in a game of pursuer-distancer. I stuck to the marriage vows, better or worse, in sickness and health, forsaking all others, but if she wanted to talk to me, then she’d have to call me.I told her that “A good life is sitting on a platter right in front of you. All you have to do is not drop it. I won’t ask you to do anything difficult for you. I can get you a good life. I can even just HAND you a good life.”And I was correct: I’d figured out enough about her to know how to do all that: She was brilliant and could do nearly anything.But, one of her problems was social phobia in the sense of being just terrified of any chance of criticism. So, for anything with goals at all ambiguous, she would work 10 times harder than necessary to be sure not to fail at some highest possible interpretation of the goals.So, first, have her work essentially only for me, say, in a family business. So, I would be seen as the target of any external criticism, not her. Second, for what she was to do, I would outline that so that she would know what needed to be done and wouldn’t have to do too much to avoid criticism. Third, for doing something new, she again might be afraid, so I would just walk her through anything new. I did that on a wide range of topics — she was just brilliant at learning so that walking her through something, e.g., statistical computing, getting the car an oil change (when I was at FedEx in Memphis), making a nice Lasagna dish for guests, cooking Porterhouse steaks for her aunt and uncle while I was traveling, cleaning the bathroom, handling a grocery list (explain that if some item on the list was not routinely available, just put it on the list for next time), not dusting the shelves behind the books before guests arrived, etc.But she very much did not want such a life and turned me down. Her medical staff wanted to lock her up or drop her from treatment, and she could not take the humiliation of being locked up.The marriage ended when her body was found floating in a lake near her mom’s farm. I sued the medical staff but lost.I never cheated — it just wasn’t what I wanted. I long suspected that she cheated some times but never had any solid evidence. Finally I did have some solid evidence — in the last two years, she’d been seeing a married man.Later I read her high school diaries and learned that she liked the idea of an affair with a married man and, as a senior, wanted such an affair with one of her teachers. Why? Because she knew that it would not lead to anything where she would have to hold to a vow or play a serious, responsible role and be vulnerable to criticism.In short, she was a very mixed up person.Why didn’t I see it? When I first dated her, when she was a college sophomore and I a grad student, she looked fine, really just terrific. I visited her home, and it all looked terrific, father, mother, and two younger sisters. I thought that I’d hit the jackpot of great families.But, the mother was a big act. And all the daughters were good at acting. And the father didn’t really understand.But, really, all the daughters ended up with similar problems that came on about age 22 — and that is known to be a common situation. They look terrific before then and, then, bingo, they lose it.In simple terms, about the time Mother Nature is determined to quit waiting for babies, she incapacitates the girls to make them dependent and, thus, soon pregnant. Sorry ’bout that — I very much wish it were never true, but sometimes it is true.Generally the solution was simple: About when she was a college sophomore, get her pregnant and married and then keep her pregnant until her whole life is devoted to just her children in her marriage.E.g., if she is to have a good life in a good marriage, then she very much needs some activities that will keep her busy and productive and that she can be proud of.And she could have done well beyond belief, e.g., home schooling the kids. With a little guidance from me, she could have had the kids ready for their Ph.D. qualifying exams at about age 18. No joke.Brilliance, vows, planning, cognition, etc. all had nothing to do with it. Instead, Mother Nature had her ready, willing, and able to get pregnant, all based just on emotions and no thinking at all. She was a perfect example of the advice, “keep her in the home, barefoot, pregnant, and dependent, chained to the stove, washing machine, sewing machine, garden, grocery cart, vacuum cleaner, floor mop, nursery, etc.”. For her security, self-esteem, meaning in life, etc., shower her with praise for what a good mother and wife she was being.That’s what happened. I will explain fully in Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys. Until then, single men, shut up, sit down, listen up, read, learn, and avoid missing a sharp turn in the road and going off a cliff in life.Until I can publish the book, here is a lesson: Under no circumstances ever bet more than you can afford to lose that a human female over the age of 10 who won’t have and accept constant direction, supervision, and guidance can overcome her emotions and do anything rational, productive, and challenging — don’t do it.Sorry ’bout that. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way, and I “paid full tuition”. You don’t want to do that — trust me. Bottom line: No fault divorce because details matter and the court without a long trial could never figure out who is right and who is wrong. There’s a point there, but the fact that we can’t clearly assign blame in all the cases does not mean we can’t in some cases or that we should always give up trying.Then the solution has to be a really strong pre-nup, maybe an at will marriage. Here, of course, the woman would be afraid that when she was 45 or so I’d trade her in on a younger model.But, really, this fear should be silly. Instead, she would have had about 25 years and built with me a great life — children, grand children, traditions, memories, activities, accomplishments we couldn’t get anywhere else, we very much would not want to lose, and would glue us together.This point is easy to see: E.g., at one point in the TV series Winds of War where the wife is in her home and having an affair while her husband is off fighting the war, there is a slow camera panning shot of the large collection of framed pictures of family events, scenes, etc. — clearly the director thought that the audience would see the problem, that the wife was sitting right there behind all those treasures of her life, that she should very much not want to lose, and throwing them away. But the TV series set her up as a ditsy, superficial, thoughtless, all emotions all the time, social climber, power groupie, cheating, lush bimbo.Basically her children were grown and gone; there were no grandchildren yet; she was not significantly involved in the lives of her children, not even her teenage daughter; she no longer had a lot of work to do as a mother; her husband was on the other side of the Atlantic; she had nothing productive she wanted to do, liked hair salon gossip, and cheated.The guy who wrote that series know some things about women; I have seen women too much like that character in the series. Sure, she was just a fictional character, but I know that a lot about her, and maybe everything, is way too common in practice.Also bad, while in Germany, she was thrilled to suck up to and be entertained by some pretty awful Nazis.At least at one time, the series could be downloaded from YouTube, and I got it all. I watch it occasionally but just for the war history parts.

          6. LE

            This is wow. I skimmed and saw “floating in a lake” so I will return to study the rest of the comment. Thanks for posting. Sorry that you went through this.

          7. fredwilson

            that’s quite a story. and a sad one too. i am sorry to read it but appreciate you sharing it here. can’t be easy to do that.

          8. sigmaalgebra

            Thanks.That was a long time ago. Yes, at one time, about a year after her death, I was in the house we had in the hills of Pawling, in the upstairs center hall, screamed, and the sound went out of the hall, into a corner bedroom, out the windows, over the trees and hills, reflected off some distant hills, came back, and was audible. Big scream.I did my best, about the best that could be done with what I knew and had. It didn’t work. Mother Nature did what she wanted, and it didn’t work either — we didn’t have kids. I couldn’t win against Mother Nature.I know a lot more now, but I have yet to find a credible Web site where I can apply for a re-do, do-over, or second chance.

  39. Ronnie Rendel

    First and foremost we have to become forgiving – of ourselves. That’s the #1 cause for not forgiving others.

  40. JLM

    .The privacy issue is a very simple issue — “Did the parties have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’?”If so, then there is an actionable tort lurking in there which must be further measured, “Who has been damaged? What damages have been incurred? Who is liable?”Those questions will define the issue when taken in concert with the language of the contract. Therein lies the big “out” for the vendor. What does the agreement really say?Then comes the issue of simple v gross negligence.When someone hacks into a financial account, as an example is criminal and perhaps less complicated.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. PhilipSugar

      The real issue is that Ashley Madison charged $19 to remove your information from their servers. They knowingly did not do that. That is theft.

      1. LE

        I actually find it hard to believe that they didn’t remove info if they charged for it. Do we know they didn’t remove any info at all? Or just some info because of an admin or tech breakdown? No removal would be a conspiracy and there is so much to lose vs. what do they really gain? The cost is $0 to delete and it’s pure profit. So why wouldn’t they do it also when it’s so easy for someone to verify if it’s been done. I question the authenticity of the news that says that actually.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >I actually find it hard to believe that they didn’t remove info if they charged for it.Some companies (including startups) do it because they think (wrongly, foolishly, shortsightedly, criminally) that they can get away with it. I’ve come across such ones.They get outed sooner or later.

    2. Twain Twain

      THIS up-voted lots. Each of us has opinions on data encryption, morality, whether the machines are capable of enabling / mitigating the risks of moral and immoral behavior…And then there’s THE LAW and as it applies to Ashley Madison case and privacy.To borrow your phrase, “Well played!”

  41. scottythebody

    Hmm…. Not so sure about this. I agree that society can and will become more forgiving. The Facebook photos that would exist of me from my previous years, had Facebook existed, would almost certainly have screened me out of many opportunities in those days. Now, many hiring managers, startups, companies, etc. are looking past all that as just part of “growing up” instead of some indelible mark of transgression and, by extension, unworthiness.I also agree that we are past the many previous deal breakers like a president who smoked weed (even the FBI is considering dropping this prohibition) or even culturally forgiving of cheaters. Those cases can be judges by a supposedly civil society and people can think and believe what they want with the information they have… Breaches don’t inherently change that.We are FAR from accepting of anything much at all in many other areas of society, and will be for a while to come.Ultimately, I think that privacy shouldn’t have to be sacrificed, but people will have to care. We are feeding current and sometimes completely bullshit and disingenuous businesses and business models with our private data. As the corner turns to a future where people might prefer to simply subscribe to or pay for services and technologies that are designed from the ground up for security and privacy, I don’t know if such business models can exist.There is always the vulnerability. The greatest air gapped network in the world can always be breached by a camera. The process control networks of the power plant may be breached by a wayward USB stick. But the fact is that systems CAN be designed with security and privacy at their very core and that business models do not necessarily have to rely on storing any private data at all if the value of such a service is sufficient that people will pay. Most of the tech is there, but almost nobody knows about it and, even if they did, almost none of them would care…..Later, I started doing a calculation. I used to pay for ISP service only plus a computer and a few software programs. I ditched my cable long before I moved to Europe, but, over time, I added various things: Spotify, Amazon Web Services, hosting accounts, movie rentals, Amazon Prime, etc. etc… These add up to me spending a lot more than cable, and I can see that spending increasing over time as more worthwhile services become available. If a market differentiator becomes consumption of premium and valuable services with actual privacy and security, I would probably spend more for those services.

  42. Pete Griffiths

    Not necessarily. We could just continue with full blown hypocrisy.

  43. John

    I agree we need to be more forgiving, but hopefully this transparency will also encourage people to live their lives in a better way. Maybe everyone will be a little bit kinder so that they’re not shamed by their actions.

  44. Cyberats

    When in recent events have you heard anything from the secluded Bilderberg Meeting. It has been going on for 60+yrs., not a word huh ? When in recent events have you heard anything from the new secretive Senate & Congress law passes, they don’t even read them anymore ?When in recent events have you been told anything about DoD Commanders that break the law, break their oath, but are allowed to stay in office because they take orders from the middle men enforcer mafia – politicians.I agree with everything LIAD said as well.The acquirement of massive data on an individual serves more than just snooping, it serves to build a portfolio, that such as in a “1984” world, can be used to Frame the most Innocent individual in the world, at any time they want, for ANYTHING. Hey, they have all the data to compose a CGI movie all the Sheeple will believe.

  45. george

    Bad behavior rarely survives its moment of truth whether argued publicly or privately. My concern, that the increase in tech breaches only creates a more apathetic view on people’s “right to privacy.” What happened to arguing/defending the Bill of Rights, IV Amendment – protecting all from unlawful search or seizure of personal effects?There’s something self-defeating about thinking about society this way and it doesn’t sit right with me…

  46. Steve_Dodd

    What an incredibly diverse discussion. Privacy, marketing, morality and religion all piled into one. In my mind what this speaks to really is the issue of the commercial desire for a “Post Privacy World” and the consumer’s continual attempts to thwart it. I struggle with Albert’s comment about “security not being about defending against compromise but operating under the assumption it will happen”. So, we should all just give up? I don’t think there is a consumer (of anything) on the planet that would agree with that position. What is so pathetic about all of this is the total lack of understanding about the real severity and potential damage this “ostrich position” can ultimately create. These latest security breaches are not necessarily designed to compromise the individuals breached, but to use their credentials gathered from various seemingly unrelated services to attack major owners / managers of massive pots of money and influence that included our governments, financial institutions and healthcare providers. When you consider this much larger and rapidly evolving impact, it becomes much easier to understand the importance of protecting privacy at the individual level.On the other hand, maybe we should think about it this way. If in fact we are to assume that compromise will happen, and the natural consumer attitude is to protect themselves, what do you think will ultimately happen to our current online marketing business model? I believe we are seeing it now. There are more online users in private networks than there are in public networks and the numbers are growing quickly. Users are finally learning the realities of this and “speaking” with their actions. Twitter is a classic example of this. It totally missed this emerging reality and is now stagnant because of it.Ignoring the morality issue for a moment (as that is truly a double edged sword), AM used fundamental human manipulative tactics to attract a specific audience but failed to protect them. That business is now gone, dead and buried because of it. And it all happened in a virtual instant.The other way to read Albert’s comment is that if we operate under the assumption that compromise will happen, then users will leverage online services in an entirely different way. Either way, the net impact is the same. If users do not feel “protected” by the services providers (and marketers) trying to gain insights into their lives, they’ll move to alternatives where they do. IMHO, privacy is not “dead”, it is only compromised by those who wish to capitalize on the perceived lack of it.

  47. JAK TRAN

    “all of us will have are in for having our deepest darkest secrets outed at some point. So let’s hope society becomes more forgiving over time. It’s going to have to.”There are tiny hints that show our behavior is already changing in that direction. But it seems less about forgiving than accepting. And behind accepting there is a natural understanding of human nature.Example. When Facebook came out, lots of people warn young adults to not post their personal party pictures (where they can be seen being completely drunk and out of control) because their futur employers may spy on them before hiring them.That may be true few years ago with posh employers who live in a codify world. But nowadays, people care less about that. Why? Because internet, social networks and big data put in front of our eyes the truth of human activity and behaviors whether one may consider acceptable or not.The reality relies on those data. And the beauty of interacting with data, is that you don’t judge it, but you rather try to understand it. And with understanding comes tolerating. After all getting drunk in a party is not that bad right ?People are scared to loose their privacy, mainly because they are scared to not be accepted for what make them human and not robot : their blatant unacceptable imperfections. But everyone is scared which means everyone has dark secrets. And in a society where dark secrets are quite evenly distributed among people, we didn’t find yet a better solution than making them tabous to ensure social cohesion. How hypocrites we are.A transparent society we’ll be a chance for all of us as society and as individuals. When we’ll all be naked, maybe we’ll start not simply accepting the ‘relative bad’ behaviors of the others but understand our own human nature. In the mean time, if we accept this transparent society, it will invalidate the power of the NSA or the advantage of google, facebook… Why? Because if we trully succeed in escaping the public/private paradigm, people will feel confortable to put all their personal data publicly in a blockchain like protocol.If transparency is too hard for us to handle, well we’ll keep going to live in a mannered world where everybody will try to please everybody. Where we’ll keep hiding our secret. And where we’ll maintain the panoptical advantage of google facebook the nsa and soon… and we will hang out only with perfect robots rather than our fellow imperfect creatures.The reality is that it won’t require us any huge amount of individual efforts to accept transparency in every interstices of our social interactions. In fact we won’t need to accept it. Our generation will keep debating about how necessary it is to protect privacy. While we will get old and embittered, this debate will be meaningless for futur generation.