Surveillance and Our Open Source Lives
There are many prophetic artworks of the past in the form of literacy, music, and movies which depict a future state of extreme surveillance by the governments. One of the most famous is “1984” by George Orwell, which coined the phrase “Orwellian” when it comes to describing the police surveillance state. One of my favorites references was an artist from the 1980s named Rockwell. He performed a prophetic song called, “Somebodys Watching Me” and he even posed the question, “I wonder who’s watching me now the IRS?”
As you can see (an you will learn if you are unaware) that day is here now. As a result of the proliferation of social networks which are basically databases where users freely feed personal data while forfeiting their privacy rights. You can not complain about privacy issues when you agree to terms where these social networks share their databases to the highest bidder. We are seeing the progressive maturation of technology evolve into tools we have fed the data stream.
How can you complain about facial recognition software and you are uploading your pictures to a social network? They will use vector mapping algorithms on your online albums and be able to find you using space based hardware. Smartphones are the portable personal “data warehouses” law enforcement can tap into a download everything. Even if your phones are password protected with a 4 digit pin it can be cracked with a PERL script in a short time.
This is just the plain reality and the “Catch-22” of participating in the social network experience. The new smart televisions have cameras for facial recognition which means they have software and software can have a back door. So let’s recap, we have social networks sharing databases with the highest biggest where users forsake their own privacy. Smart phones represent another device where we store are text conversations, contacts, Internet history, GPS history, and pictures.
We have turned our lives into an open source lifestyle; and quite frankly we as a culture did not think about the ramifications. Now there is no turning back because each generation of software is being integrated with keener hardware. We can expect the same technology we see in movies like “Minority Report” where if shopping your face is recognized and your shopping likes are queried. Is any of this surveillance technology inherently bad?
It all depends on the intentions of the operators. If this technology is used ethically and responsibly by law enforcement there should not be too many complaints except from the criminals. In the hands of government agencies with poor transparency there is a history of abuse. This is where the threat to civil liberties begin and the irony is user data is being integrated from social networks. Facebook is just as effective as an FBI database because the enormous data volumes and the fact there is GPS cell phone tracking.
Many people were fearful from a Biblical perspective of the RFID being used for buying and selling. This will most likely be replaced with biometric technology currently integrated into smart phones and maybe even the super markets soon. It certainly takes away the RFID scenario and people can rest easy nothing foreign will be inserted into their bodies . . . at this point. We should be concerned with other factors like radio wave and microwave pollution!
What are the ramifications on the human body when we enter the subject of brain waves and soft tissue? As of November 2013, there were over 190,000 cell phone towers in the USA. We seem to be rushing into everything without a careful analysis. The GMO market is the perfect example. There is tomato genetically modified to repel specific insects from eating them. The next generation of the insects modified itself to continue to consume the tomato regardless of the GMO technology. Meanwhile, lab studies are showing mice consuming a steady GMO diet are developing cancer.
The biggest threat is artificial intelligence. If ever introduced into the internet which can write its own spontaneous code . . . is the recipe for disaster. The government and private corporations set up the infrastructure to cast a net over the entire earth. The opportunity for hacking will never end and this will always be an issue but the artificial intelligence presents a far greater problem.
In closing, we are ripping through the age of technology with blinding speed. The advent and maturation of nanotechnology is creating more and more surveillance opportunities. The space race has littered the orbit around the earth with hundreds of satellites and integration with new software is a snap. There will always be beneficial applications to the American people and there will always be abuse. The question is what are the controls and will there be transparency? Like my great-grandfather used to say, “Everything that shines is not gold.”