Convenience over Rationality

Many times, we choose convenience over what would be the rational choice.

For example, in many countries, WhatsApp is the defacto messenger app. WhatsApp is where you interact with your family, the parents of your kids’ school, and old classmates. It’s how you contact the janitor and other contractors. You are expected to use WhatsApp. Even if many people distrust Meta and their use of personal data, the effect is not immediately perceived. Convenience trumps rationality and privacy concerns and they continue to use WhatsApp.

The UK is considering the possibility of requiring that messaging apps disable end-to-end encryption, or at least weaken their encryption algorithms. The argument is that this would allow the government to act more effectively against malicious agents and criminals.

I think that giving the government tools to massively spy on their own citizens is always a bad idea. However, my guess is that if end-to-end encryption were disabled, most people would continue to use their favorite messenger app just because of convenience.

A quote from The Carbon Almanac:

We err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much.

convenience rationality end-to-end encryption

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