My computer tells me that I have been writing this column for nearly ten years. Not this particular one of course. I’m slow but not that slow. It doesn’t seem that long ago. However I expect that it is as my computers memory tends to be more reliable than my own. It remembers the date and even the time that my first article for this paper was completed. That is the thing with stored data, it never forgets, and even the grammatical errors are kept forever if I do not correct them, and there seems little point now. They will never be forgiven.
Way back in 1970 Zbigniew Brzezinski could see the writing on the wall – or perhaps more precisely the nature of the data in the files – when he said: ‘The technocratic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continual surveillance on every citizen and maintain up to date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.”
Brzezinski’s prophecy is now a reality through the internet of things. The pervasive effects of this were made clear in the Vault 7 series from WikiLeaks. The release of this information forced Samsung to admit that their smart TV’s watched and listened to their owners more than their owners watched and listened to their telly. These smart TV's were watching and listening even when they were switched off.
Had the state announced that it was issuing tracking devices to all its citizens in order to monitor them 24 hours a day there would have been an uproar and the initiative would have been rejected. But in the name of convenience and safety people queue up to pay large sums for the latest Apple personal monitoring and surveillance device.
Modern smart phones are primarily tracking and monitoring devices. They also allow the individual being monitored to make phone calls, texts and emails, at a cost, of course. The new Apple pay system is another data collection method. It is no accident that the Apple logo is a symbol of the fall of man from paradise.
It has been some time since I first noticed a particularly sinister looking installation at the Brynderwyn corner which peers with a Cyclops eye down state highway 12. What does it see and who does it tell? Since then another larger installation has sprouted up between Kaiwaka and Wellsford. No one has yet told us what these surveillance cameras are for and why they are required, yet you can be sure they have been installed with taxpayer money.
In the last two years more data has been collected and stored than has been previously collected throughout human history. This information and technological revolution is new territory for the human race and where it will lead is still a matter of speculation. Prophets of doom like myself suspect it will be nowhere good. There is now available, to the ruling elite, artificial intelligence capable of processing all this data.
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power, and those in power are intent on harvesting as much knowledge about you and your habits as they can. Are we entrusting this power to corporations and/or state agencies after a process of informed consent consistent with democratic principles? Or are hubristic state and corporate interests simply taking it by a combination of stealth and main force? Is it so wise and benevolent philanthropists can better serve us, or is it so they can obtain greater power over us? Whatever the reason there is no doubt the data is being taken.
New advances in information technology are like all other discoveries made during the course of history. They have the potential to be used for good or for evil. Our track record in the use of technology for the common good has been dismal. Only 10 years after the Wright brothers pioneered flight, airplanes were being used to drop bombs on people. Had Wilbur and Orville foreseen pilotless drones raining Hellfire missiles down upon hapless civilians they may well have decided not to bother.
Rudolph Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the university of Hawaii, published a study illustrating that In the 20th century, six times more people were killed by their own governments than by war. He illustrated that governments are more dangerous and a bigger threat to their own citizens than are any foreign nation.
The news that the reporter who broke the Panama papers scandal was blown to smithereens by a bomb placed in her car should come as no surprise. With such pervasive surveillance she was an easy target. And if the truth be told, there are many in power who do not like the truth told.
So as we now see Brzezinski’s prophetic words fulfilled, be warned that anything you say and do can and will be recorded and may be used against you. Not necessarily in a court of law.
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Modern smart phones are primarily tracking and monitoring devices. It is no accident that the Apple logo is a symbol of the fall of man from paradise.