We love the idea of a single unified theory of everything. One eloquent and beautiful equation which describes everything. It can unfold and from it, all that is, can and will be explained. It would provide a rationale to the unexplained and a purpose for the unreasonable. Such an equation would have logic, it can be translated into an algorithm, which we can code and run. From this exiliar we can solve all questions of humanity and our future will be predictable.
It raises lots of questions. If we found the equation surely we would dissolve the need for a soul, our belief would be worthless, hope would be irrelevant, faith pointless and luck would be a calculation. Chaos and humanity will give way to order and authority — the Matrix was real.
Ignoring if possible or if that is what we want, physics helpfully starts to highlight one of many problems of any unified theory. Relativity ( big stuff) has one set of equations and behaviours and Quantum (very small stuff) has a totally different set of equation and behaviours. We, who live in the mid-section between the impossible vastness of relativity and the unimaginable chaos of tiny quantum energy, can model both these boundaries but lack the unified models to explain how they co-exist.
How does this thinking link to Privacy?
For some reason we want and desire A Single Unified Theory of Privacy, one that solves all our privacy quirkiness, however are we also searching for the impossible?
At a very large scale (using the physics analogy) privacy would be for all humanity, all citizens, every person together as one; we will have the same and equal rights, all 8 billion of us. At a very small scale privacy is for me; right now, at this place and at this time. It is unique to this context, this experience, this thought at this very moment. Between the 8Bn and this single person at this point in time, we want to create a set of unifying rules, the single algorithm, the one equation which would work for, and embrace, all circumstances and situations. We desire to create a framework that will act equally for me (unique to me and only me right now), and one that apply to everyone for ever; but we are delivering rules which work for neither situation or anyone (except the very rich few)
Perhaps we should stop searching for the one solution and start to look at two, one set of privacy rules and guidelines, one for everyone which is a human right AND a different one for this moment, this instant, this thought, this action, this click, this interaction, this communication. We could call one Relative-Privacy and one Quant-Privacy.
One for coffee, do we have the same problem with Identity ?