This blog entry is probably pandering to my tin-hat-they’re-out-watching-us tendencies more than I would like to admit, but it’s a chain of thought I’d like to follow for a moment. In general terms I try to keep abreast of developments in the world. Amongst the topics that will normally catch my interest are IT, politics and robotics. Joining the dots between the various topics is some what of a pastime too.
Recently I was walking through the forest with Dream, when I noticed some kind of biggish fly hover to take a look at me. It was only there for a moment (hours in fly terms) before flying away. It was easy to imagine that it took a good long look at me. As I let my brain wander around some recent news stories, some science fiction, recent politics and some thoughts came back to me. They were a rambling collection, ranging from the Snowden revelations to a small robotic fly and a cyborg cockroach. Oh yeah, and my pet peeve, Google Glass.
In near future we may well see small, bird sized drones with a 4G connection for control being deployed. Over the years as they get more common place perhaps they will be all over the place. I couldn’t guess whether this would be a hegemonic expansion or something more draconian. Will we go nuts about flying our personal drones all over the place, guided by a google-app or will the the governments be in control of the surveillance; keeping an eye on us, for our safety?
Interesting article on this very topic. The BBC reports about the military combining small drones and VR, and describes what I writing about here. Looks like I was a couple of years ahead of the curve.
Aside from more obvious form of surveillance, CCTV and the like, is the invisible face of big brother. Be it your ISP keeping a log of your web-traffic, Google remembering your searches, Amazon advertising products similar to the one you just bought, Facebook being, well, Facebook – there is a lot of data being kept about us. Individually, the contents of each of these databases may be innocuous, but when the records are gathered together using a common username, an IP address or the profile of your computer (device fingerprint) you are probably a lot more visible than you think. Intelligence gathering organisations such as America’s “Prism” or the UK’s Tempora really highlight this. The “if you’ve nothing to hide, then you’ve nothing to fear” message starts to wear a little thin. I wouldn’t allow a government agent to spend all day peeping in my windows “just in case”, so why via the internet where they are invisible?
For citizens to allow this intrusion in their private lives their needs to be darn good reason. The reason, the at least what we’ve seen recently at least from the US in light of revelations about Prism and collection of telephone call meta-data, is one of “it’s for your own good”. This is more than evident when we think about the way things have changed since 9/11. The US and UK governments seem to excuse the increase in internet surveillance and of scanners and security procedures at airports as being part of terrorism prevention measures. At least for myself, I just feel claustrophobic and hemmed in. Maybe when ordinary citizens are made to feel like cattle, the terrorists have already won.
The reason we allow, or at least don’t make a bigger fuss than rambling blog entries like this one, is that the media constantly run stories about the threat of terrorism and the latest bombing in the middle-east. Our minds are kept in a state of tension and fear where we will consent to being watched over since “this is just how things are now”.
When neighbours fall out, it can be hard enough to get to the bottom of things. How can we presume to understand the feelings of the leaders of countries thousands of kilometres away, with their own religious and cultural backgrounds. Looking at the world with a ‘glass is half empty’ mentality tends towards the feeling that indeed the world is sliding towards chaos. There seems to be so much fear and suspicion between nations and, although the politicians do well to control their feelings, the media just loves to whip us up into a frenzy of righteous indignation. Except I really don’t think the indignation is all that righteous. I’d want to stop and ask how we got into this state in the first place. What drove, for instance, al-Qai’dah to launch the 9/11 attacks in the first place (this link opens slowly).
This blog entry has rambled on in a semi-paranoid daze and has expanded and contracted a numerous of times since I started trying to wrestle it into shape. I’ve tried to find a common thread between where we are now in terms of the level of surveillance, where this came from and where we might be headed. I’m not sure I’ve even come close. A few quotes have been rattling around my head during all this.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Yoda)
“Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny.” (Yoda)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Jesus, Matthew 5:43-46)
This final quote from Jesus is the antidote to my rising worry, fear and paranoia. In His words is a gentle simplicity that calms my fears. He becomes my fortified tower, a hiding place and the still place in the centre of the storm. Many respond to His words with “Yeah, but .. “, and “What if ..”. He responds with “Love your neighbour.”, “Forgive 70 times 7”, “Forgive them Father, they haven’t a clue what they are doing”. Here we see a completely different way of dealing with the world. How different my world would be if I could live out these two simple words everyday. Love. Forgive.