The future of lies: from mass commodity to luxury goods

At every level, from brute camouflage to poetic vision, the linguistic capacity to conceal, misinform, leave ambiguous, hypothesize, and invent, is indispensable to the equilibrium of human consciousness.

—George Steiner

Despite their bad reputation, over the centuries, lies have enjoyed undeniable success.

According to Mark Twain ‘Lying is universal—we all do it; we all must do it.’

According to Napoleon “History is a set of lies agreed upon.”

In Why we lie, David Livingstone Smith says: ‘Deceit (…) is normal, natural, and pervasive. It is not, as popular opinion would have it, reducible to mental illness or moral failure. Human society is a “network of lies and deceptions” that would collapse under the weight of too much honesty. From the fairy tales our parents told us to the propaganda our governments feed us, human beings spend their lives surrounded by pretense.’ (P.9 )

In the end, he defines ‘lying’ as ‘any form of behavior the function of which is to provide others with false information or to deprive them of true information.’

The battle between truth and false is old as the world. Inquisitors in ancient China asked suspected liars to put rice in their mouths to see if they were salivating. In The Gesta Romanorum, there is the story of a soldier who had his clerk measure his wife’s pulse to check on her faithfulness. During World War I, it was developed the use of machines that measured blood pressure to attempt to ascertain deception, and a few years later, it was developed a “cardio-pneumo psychogram,” which provided continuous readings of a subject’s blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate. In a 2006 study, the system, called Silent Talker, was made to guess whether a subject was lying or telling the truth achieving around 70% accuracy. (reference)

What would happen if the development of Artificial Intelligence will make possible to detect lies in 100% of cases?

Everyone respects the truth also to the extent that they can make use of the lies. Love for the truth in this perspective is a tool to keep the value of the lie high through scarcity.

This hypocrisy could technically disappear in a near future.

When the data acquisition and computing power will make possible to access the truth at its full what will happen to the lies? Disraeli said: “There are three types of `lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”Maybe that would become a prophecy.

First of all, datafication, quantification, and measurement would make lying a commodity. As a commodity, it would be subject to the laws of the market, namely, supply and demand. Individuals already measured by algorithms according to many parameters, probably education, legal, financial, and social status, would also be categorized according to a truth index.

Maybe will be possible to buy a certain amount of lies with the right to say it in public. And on the other side of deception, It might be possible to buy different packages to detect the lies of others.

In a time when the truth will be imposed on everyone, the lie will belong only to those who can afford it. Only the elites will be able to avoid being checked, approved, corrected, and certified by the powerful servers for the certification of the truth.

The truth from an Enlightenment liberation symbol would become an instrument of oppression. Each could be equipped with biometric detection tools that will allow them to identify a lie at the very moment in which it is pronounced, or even thought of.

States and private entities could put a limit on the number of tellable lies and different social classes would have different thresholds of lies allowed. Those without the ability to buy a license to lie would be forced to tell the truth. It would be like for some animals to lose the opportunity to blend in, hide, or pretend certain behaviors.

In the social struggle for survival, humans equipped only with truth will be overwhelmed by humans with the faculty to lie.

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