Saturday, December 18, 2010

Big Brother is Watching You, 2

Continued from "Big Brother is Watching You"

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Proverbs 29:2)

It is hard to describe what it is like under circumstances when every detail, every act, every word might suddenly cause one's death. Fear can destroy one's sense of proportion. We lived in a world that suffered from gross magnification. Everything was too large, too heavy, too significant. We learned to preserve our spirit; otherwise, we would die. (From Tomorrow Will Be Better, Zdena Kapral)

The author of the quote above is a Czech who lived under Nazi and Communist regimes. I use it because the threat of such a nightmarish reality creeps more closely upon us every day.

In my previous post, I talked about our civil authority's increasingly pervasive -- and invasive -- surveillance of its citizens. The inevitably logical outcome will be terror in the name of fighting terrorism.

I also made reference to the novel 1984 which describes a society under total and constant surveillance by its totalitarian overlords. Another concept found in the book is that of thoughtcrime, .the crime of thinkiing thoughts unapproved by the regime.

The video below should chill your blood. Its first impression is pretty ho-hum, because it's produced as one of those boring PR films that that we all so easily tune out. Also, the subject matter is about security and preventing terroristic acts, which we all support, right?

If you manage to stay awake, however, the subject matter may trouble you. First, the fact that this technology was developed for Homeland Security should grab your attention.

Next, during the interrogation we hear two questions repeated over and over, so that you get the impression that the two great terrorist threats are explosive devices and recording devices. It seems that surveillance is meant to be a one-way street.

(You may say that the video is presenting a scenario for a musical concert, but that raises the question of why Homeland Security would be interested in preserving performers' copyright privileges.)

Finally, and most importantly, notice that at the end of the interrogation, one individual is detained solely on the basis of how a computer reads the expressions on his face. The assumptions are that facial expression reveal inner thoughts and inner thoughts are probable cause for detainment.

In effect, we have moved one step closer to criminalizing unapproved thoughts.

The network program Lie to Me has played an important role in convincing the unthinking masses into accepting the idea that science now makes it possible to read a person's every thought and motive in his/her facial expressions. Although it's only fiction, it makes the real-world implementation of prosecuting thoughtcrime seem plausible and palatable.

Am I being overly dramatic? Watch the video, and you tell me.

Thanks to my wife for the quote at the beginning of this article, and thanks to RPC for the link to this video.

Series continues here

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