DAVID BRIN's transparency page

David Brin's best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. His award-winning novels and short stories explore vividly speculative ideas through a hard-science lens. His nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.

Here are David Brin's net-accessible articles, interviews, and essays analyzing the issues surrounding transparency, security, privacy, and openness.

even more articles about transparency

In these essays (and in all his writings), Brin emphasizes openness as a good general policy for the era ahead, when a myriad pitfalls and unexpected dangers may loom suddenly out of the future. Above all, openness is freedom's best defense.


if you can't hide, adapt

It seems that almost daily, some elite is outed for snooping. Much of today’s hand-wringing focuses rightfully on potential abuse of power. Both ends of the hoary political spectrum share one dread: that despots will be tech-empowered by universal surveillance. But is it fallacious to base our freedom and safety upon blinding of elites? First, can you name one time in human annals when that actually happened? When those on top forsook any powers of vision? Forbid, and you’ll drive it underground.

information control

our ongoing information problem

Whenever people try to control what can be known about them, they fail to realize that "our information" is also a delusion that will fray and unravel with time, leaving us with what is practical, what matters... how to maintain control NOT over what others know about us, but what they can DO to us. In order to accomplish that, we must know as much about the mighty as they know about us.

tech safety

is it so hard to understand?

Sousveillance, or empowering citizens to look back at every sort of powerful elite, has been, in fact, the very reflex that brought us to this festival of freedom and creativity-generated wealth. Yet, it seems difficult to get people — who use tech to bemoan the rise of tech — to parse HOW this is best achieved.

neighborhood spy drone

a 'google glass' neighborhood watch

Neighborhood watches armed with Google glasses (and our ubiquitous smart phones) could help deter crime, but there could be many unforeseen consequences. The events that transpire after a video reveals police brutality show just how powerful camera footage can be. One might argue that citizen cameras can help counteract government infiltration of private lives.

zero sum game

people who don't 'get' transparency

The basic idea that you will better thrive by hiding information from your foes, competitors and rivals, even if this accelerates an arms race of obscurity and spying, creates a secular trend toward ever-reduced transparency. What is at issue here is fundamentally a question of the zero sum game.

social media spies

our right to look back

Should we worry much less about restricting what the government and other elites can see (how you gonna stop em?) than about preserving our right to look back? But can we look? Really? We have the illusion of choice... but six media giants now control a staggering 90% of what we read, watch or listen to, in the U.S.

who's watching?

Dilbert’s Dilemma and other transparency crises

Our protective agencies can be expected to continue pressing for better surveillance methods, both in pursuit of a professional ability to do their jobs and as a natural outcome of human psychology. They will never give up because we monkeys need to see and powerful ones won't be denied. If forbidden, they will simply peer at us surreptitiously. Robert Heinlein said: "Privacy laws make the spy bugs smaller."

the art of propaganda

let's uplift ourselves first!

Will bitter ideological rifts dominate the 21st Century, as they did the 20th? Or might we shrug off some of the obsolete intellectual baggage we've inherited from past thinkers who (in fact) knew much less than we do now? David Brin's questionnaire regarding ideology and human destiny pokes at the deeper assumptions that underlie the many assumptions we take for granted.

interviewing Brin about transparency

Although this website has dedicated pages for David Brin's print, podcast and video interviews, those pertaining to transparency or The Transparent Society are collected here.

the creep factor

See this interview with David Brin and others in this Forbes article, which concludes that the right way to deal with data redlining is not to prohibit the collection of data, as so many misguided privacy advocates seem to urge, but rather, to prohibit its misuse once companies have that data.

the future of privacy policy

As technology advances, there will be no hiding from surveillance. What we should instead fight for is transparency: the watchers must feel just as exposed as the watched. What will privacy policy mean when applied to the government versus the increasingly powerful tech titans?

cheaters, transparency, and how ICOs avoid jail

In this episode of Milk, Brin tackles the crypto space and issues of state surveillance in an entirely different manner.

do our children deserve privacy?

David Brin gave a provocative interview about The Transparent Society to appeared in Switch: "But the saddest thing is how little you folks seem to hope for your children. If you feel you cannot make a better world for them, then I certainly encourage you not to have any. I suggest you try nihilism on for size. You are already halfway there."

"I am Mister Transparency"

In this Variety magazine interview Brin comments on life after the Sony hack: "Live and work as if anybody might be watching now.... Never absolutely count on anything being secret. Always act as if there’s a chance what you’re doing will be revealed.... Privacy is an absolutely essential trait, but the only way we’ll get any is in a mostly open world.

"I'll show you mine if you show me yours"

Brin was interviewed for Amazon.com, where he noted: "The Constitution never mentions the word 'privacy.' Most legal scholars consider privacy to be a secondary derived right — one that society can adjust up or down, like the volume of the radio, depending upon what we wish, what we desire. Freedom of speech is something entirely different."

unmasking society

In this Metroactive interview, Brin suggests a contrarian solution to society's unmasking: "If privacy is history, he asks, why not build instead a future of openness, trust and mutual accountability based on the free two-way flow of information?"

because who doesn't like transparency?

A CNN interview discusses the modern threats to privacy Brin outlines in The Transparent Society: "Naturally, there are core groups that like uneven information flows. Whenever an industry is told to increase its openness and accountability, they tend to scream that the sky will fall."

the spying, the spies, and the spy-watchers

The Snowden/NSA revelations resulted in this interview by the San Diego Union-Tribune: "Anyone who thinks they're going to conceal information from elites has no sense of historical, technological or civilization perspective. But we can, and should, look at them."

surpringly free?

In this podcast interview (by Jerry Brito, who wrote "Brin, Transaction Costs and Do Not Track") David discusses reciprocal accountability as the "key to minimizing undesirable effects and behaviors."

looking toward the year 2050...

This 10 minute video about transparency and what the Internet Miracle will bring is one of the best excerpts from an interview David Brin gave a European television station during the recent conference in Lithuania on DigitalFutures 2050.

... and back to how we'll get there

Another DigitalFutures 2050 interview excerpt explains the most difficult concept of the information age — that we should stop whining about how much elites can see, and instead be militant about looking back at them.

the man who predicted "spy" glasses?

NPR interviewed Brin about Google Glass and the future of spy-wear.

after the Sony hack

When it comes to privacy being hacked, it’s often said that I’m saying everything will be naked and that we’ll have no privacy. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. Privacy is an absolutely essential trait, but the only way we’ll get any is in a mostly open world.

openness, privacy & surveillance

On Openness, Privacy and Surveillance explains the most difficult concept of the information age, once more time hammering on what ought to be obvious. That we should stop whining about how much elites can see and instead be militant about looking back at them. We must watch the watchers! Sousveillance is the only response to surveillance.

a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.



David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More

shorter fiction

Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More

Contrary Brin blog

Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More

social media influencer

Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

DAVID BRIN scientist


David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More

transparency expert

Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More

speaker & consultant

Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 300 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings. Learn More

future/tech advisor

Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

Contacting BRIN

All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN at mail@davidbrin.com


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pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
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  • pages about BRIN's science fiction

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  • a compilation of great sf books to read
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  • science fiction that teaches
  • BRIN's nonfiction explorations

  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds