Many decades ago there was an issue of Mad comics that portrayed a future time when everything was done by robots and humans had no function. One day the system failed. As it had been eons since humans had to do anything, no one knew how to fix the system. It was Mad comics version of Armageddon.
I think that is where the digital revolution is taking us.
I remember when appliances and cars responded to humans, and now humans respond to them. When I grew up cars and home appliances did not go “beep-beep” to remind you of the things you were supposed to do, such as turn off the car lights and take the keys out of the ignition, or turn off the oven and shut the fridge.
Cars, except for British sports cars, didn’t have seat belts. Today a car doesn’t stop beeping until you fasten your seat belts. I hear that soon the cars won’t start until the seat belts are fastened.
When the electric company’s outsourced crew failed to connect the neutral line to my house and blew out all appliances, sprinkler system, and garage openers, the electric company replaced everything on a prorated depreciated basis that cost me thousands of dollars. The worst part of it is that the new appliances boss me around.
The old microwave would gently beep three times and stop. The new one beeps in the most insistent way—open the door you dumb human right this second, immediately—and keeps on insisting until I obey. The fridge refuses to let me leave it open for cleaning. The oven insists that I open it immediately, despite my habit of cutting the on time short and leaving whatever it is to cook awhile longer in the hot oven.
We are being told that the Internet of Things is supposed to be our future, everything is connected, everything is a data source. We are told this will make things more convenient somehow, maybe, but your convenience is not what the Internet of Things is being created for. The Internet of Things is being created in a way that things will be associated with your name. So by looking at what the things are doing, people can watch what you are doing. The Internet of Things will be a living, digital organism where you can be found any time of day, watched, identified, and treated like a voluntary member of this new massive database in the sky. Of course, the Internet of Things is a way for government to assure itself that your behavior is not in any way a threat to anyone in government or, if it is, to enable them to quickly pay you a visit in a forceful way.
The Internet of Things will produce more data about you than has ever been collected, and the more data they have on you, the more they can take your stuff from you, the more they can do to you.
Self-driving cars seem to be our future, and robots are taking our jobs away even faster than global corporations offshored them to Asia.
What exactly is it that humans are going to be good for? Nothing it seems.
Why will we need a driving license when cars drive themselves? If there is an accident, who is to blame? The company that made the car? The company responsible for the software? What is the point of car insurance when drivers have no responsibility?
Perhaps it is true that aliens are living among us. Their language is “beep-beep” and they are using our machines and cars to train us, like Pavlov’s dogs, to respond to their command.
I can remember when telephones were a convenience before they became a nuisance. When my land line rings, 95% of the time it is a scam or a telemarketing call, usually robotic. Now, a man will listen to a sexy female voice, for a time, and a woman will listen to a courtly gentleman’s voice, but until sex doll robots catch on, no one wants to listen to a machine’s voice. So why the calls? Why do the telephone companies permit their customers to be scammed and their privacy to be constantly invaded? How do the phone companies benefit from permitting unethical people to destroy the value of phone service?
The same thing, I am told, happens to cell phone users. Recently I finally had to acquire a smart phone, because two people I need to reach only respond to text messages. They refuse to answer any phone, and email is so invaded by scammers, malware, and marketeers that they do not use email. They do not even set up the message system on their cell phones. If you try to call them, you get instead of an answer the message that the person you are attempting to call has not set up their message box.
So there you have it. Except for texting, which can’t (yet) be done with a land line, telephones are a nuisance.
Growing up in Atlanta during the 1940s and into the early 1950s, you could not yourself place a call from your telephone. When you picked up the receiver, an AT&T operator answered and asked: “number please.” You gave her the number, and she rang it and connected you if there was an answer. If you did not know the number, you asked her for information. If you knew the complete name and perhaps the street address, you were provided with the telephone number.
In those halcyon days even in a city such as Atlanta, Georgia, there were party lines. That meant that you shared a telephone line with a neighbor. If you picked up the receiver to make a call through the operator and heard voices speaking, you knew the line was in use and decency required that you hang up immediately. As the talking parties heard the click when you picked up the line, if they didn’t hear the click when you hung up they asked you to get off their call.
In that system, there was no anonymity. Anonymity appeared with dial phones, which allowed you to make your own calls. From a public telephone, the call was not traceable to you. This technology was the beginning of our downfall.
Dial phones, something youths have seen only in antique shops or old movies are still with us in everyday language. We still say “dial the number” when we are punching buttons.
Today thanks to technological “progress,” it is much easier to invade privacy.
Technology is destroying us and the planet. The pollution from technology is phenomenal. 5G itself may do us in. The destruction of privacy, identity, and freedom by the digital revolution is far beyond George Orwell’s imagination. Insouciant humans delight in the gadgets that are turning themselves into unfree people who are under control but who themselves control nothing.
This outcome is easily seen in China where the government uses universal spying to construct for each person a social credit score. If that person is a dissident, has bad habits, etc., that person gets a score too low to qualify for a loan, university admission, employment, etc., and becomes a non-being. Here is Soren Korsgaard’s explanation of our future.
Dystopian classics are back into the spotlight, like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. They have roared back onto bestseller lists due to whistleblowers’ exposés of government imperialism and totalitarian surveillance of their citizens and foreigners. While the kakistocracy and dystopian surveillance state depicted in 1984 undoubtedly reflected, to some extent, contemporary sociopolitical realities, Orwell extrapolated worst-case scenarios set as warnings for future generations. Nonetheless, his book and implicit warnings seem to have been ignored as an authoritarian surveillance state is now a reality for most people in first and second world countries. In lieu of accountability for criminal mass-surveillance or these revelations deterring or limiting the prying eyes of government-sponsored spy programs, the establishment in conjunction with their media platforms has used it to their full advantage, almost as if they, themselves, masterminded the leaks.
Rather than being dismantled, the establishment has openly added advanced surveillance technology to their arsenal in their cataclysmic War on Truth. The mainstream media now parallels Orwell’s Ministry of Truth that broadcasts official explanations, while it effectively neutralizes those who venture outside the parameters of government-approved thinking, which so often equates to threatening their interests.
While the current Western population control via advanced surveillance technology and social engineering is unparalleled in history, China has nevertheless rolled out a system that sets new standards for government control, the so-called social credit system. In a few decades from now, if the Chinese government succeeds, those who are imprisoned by the social crediting system will have no reference point or conception of freedom; digital tyranny will have become the norm.
To some extent, Western policymakers have been apprehensive of the Chinese program, but as we shall see, it is nevertheless evident that they themselves are working diligently behind the scenes to implement the same technology that makes the Chinese digital prison possible.