Yes, the Surveillance State is alive and well, tracking our movements, reading our emails, cataloging our daily activities, creating and storing digital dossiers on us all and placing them in a mammoth database. BUT, but. It’s still unformed, in a state of chrysalis. It hasn’t yet reached that future point where turning back would be almost impossible.
There is a feeling of a totalitarian, technocratic egg in the middle of hatching at the moment. Drone technology, real-time facial recognition, a slave race of quasi-AI programs, algorithms that put total surveillance on auto-pilot, this and much, much more is speeding towards a nexus point, where the chaos of data that this technology is gulping up will be brought into a state of order and control. It’s like a young animal testing its boundaries, discovering its potential. And the potential this technology has is to realize Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. Total, real-time surveillance of every individual on the planet. And the means to quickly and easily sift and act on the relevant information.
Governments murder and enslave. This is the most important lesson of the history of the human race. The greatest lie is that we can control that institution to any degree. And the greatest lie of democracy is that “we are the government”. Our very survival depends on knowing the vast difference between ruler and ruled, between Crown and Subject.
Looking past all the propaganda about “public service” that governments of the world engage in, focus on one number: 262 million. That is the number of unarmed civilians murdered by their own governments during the 20th century. Professor R.J. Rummel, who came up with the number, dubbed this phenomenon “democide”. Now, did the human race suddenly because abnormally blood-thirsty during the 20th century? What accounts for the greatest letting of civilian blood in our history? The answer is that governments, for the first time in history, had the means to carry out mass murder on an industrial scale, easily and quickly. The means made the difference. The weapons, chemicals, machines, etc., were at their disposal for the first time in history.
Governments of the world are gaining, through technology, virtually limitless technology to surveil their citizens, predict their movements and actions. The Surveillance State is giving governments of the world the means for total enslavement of their populations. Does that sound like hyperbole? Just remember, 262 million.
The hubris of the belief that we can control the most murderous institution ever created by man is similar to the belief that one can train a crocodile. We are the ones being trained.
What we mean by Surveillance State is really the inability to hide from our own government, which is probably the most important survival strategy we possess. When we can no longer evade our government, for whatever reason, we are at its mercy. This is the reason to oppose seemingly innocuous programs like a small surveillance drone for the local police department. That drone, once embedded within your local department, will soon become equipped with facial recognition tech. Then it will have internet access, and upload its video feed to a database that other law enforcement agencies can access. Its data will be fed to algorithms that will catalogue and predict your movements, creating a near-perfect picture of your entire life. This information will complement every other piece of information that other tentacles of the Surveillance State is busy capturing.
But its hard, so very hard to stop a process that’s being fed by our addiction to the “dopamine-driven feedback loop” of social media, our addiction to the latest shiny tech, which fuels Silicon Valley to create and innovate, and who thereby does the NSA and the Pentagon favors for favorable treatment in return.
This meandering harangue has been meant to restate just why we oppose total surveillance of our entire lives by our government. Because governments by their nature murder, enslave, and control. Total surveillance would give governments an almost limitless ability to accomplish these. So, we must resist.