“When I was a kid….”
One day you are going to say that and it will be followed by, “I could walk down the street and no one could tell who I was if I didn’t want them to know.” For the large majority of the population that would not refer to being secretive because we were doing something wrong, but that we reserve the right as human beings to divulge information about ourselves when WE choose to, not when others will profit from revealing it about us.
That day is not far off.
How do we feel about that, really? We have two competing motivators here. One is that it is pretty cool to see new tech and all the things it will do for us. But the other is that we will lose all our ability to be left alone, to know that there are parts of ourselves we don’t have to share if we don’t want to. Privacy. It is a sweet thing and I think that we often don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone.
Remember when Minority report came out? We were amazed at the technology.
If We Knew Then…
What most of us didn’t know then was that this technology already existed. We just weren’t privy to that information. We are seeing bits and snatches of it coming out now. Facebook bought Face.com and is already using it. Have you noticed that when you upload photos now, Facebook already has a pretty good idea of who the people are in those photos? These are just the baby steps.
In some parts of the world there are surveillance cameras set up so closely together that there are few places you can stand on the street without being on video. And by 2014 the FBI is planning to test a nationwide iris scanner database.
In the foreseeable future we will be experiencing billboards that scan our faces and irises, identify us and pull up data for the last few weeks of shopping we’ve done as well as other ads we’ve seen, then target us for profit.
“Hey,” you say. “That technology sure makes it easier to tag all those photos of all my friends!” And you would be right. At the same time, you are giving away something very precious that cannot be taken back. The ability to be able to be private and in control of your own destiny.
Do you use your real name wherever you go online? No? Why not? Because you know that there are people in this world who can and will use it against you if given the opportunity. Not everyone. Not even most. But some. So you are careful about what information you give out.
However, every step you make on the internet is being tracked. Every purchase you make in a store using any identification source such as a credit/debit card, a store discount card, whatever, is being carefully turned into a data goldmine.
The Wealth That Is You
You are a goldmine, make no mistake. You may not believe you make a lot of money per week. You may even live paycheck to paycheck. But if you earn a paycheck at all, that money is spent, and it will add up over the average of 75 years that you live and breathe and buy necessities. An average person who earns a modest 32,000 a year for 50 years of work adds up to $1,600,000.00. Any company would be very happy to have a share of that, and your spending information is sold to the highest bidder.
That might not even bother you much. Frankly, it doesn’t bother me much either. Except for the fact that the information gathering does not stop at your spending habits. It goes further. Throughout history governments, nations, and empires have risen and fallen riding the tails of the work of the people. Control the people and their trade and you control the nation. That’s what bothers me.
Where are We Going?
Who here thinks politicians are largely trustworthy and true servants of the people? No, sadly, as a result of leaving the safety of the constitution, many politicians are career oriented. Very few actually serve, volunteering at loss to themselves to work for the bettering of our nation. Men and women gave their lives for our nation, willingly sacrificed their personal safety to ensure the freedoms of future generations. Today they are too busy hosting parties, traveling to conferences, hiding marital infidelities, taking payoffs and passing laws they haven’t read to even understand the word ‘sacrifice’.
Your data is being mined to know who you are, what you do, and how best you can be utilized for power of the few to maintain their lifestyle.
People are Just People
I am a business person. I sit behind a desk and try to use my creativity to find a beneficial solution to customers with a need, and I work hard to earn their trust. I believe capitalism is one of the better ways to run an economy and I believe it can be run well by people who are ethical and not out to bleed everyone dry. This problem of selfish greed has nothing to do with economic philosophies, position in society, job titles, or party lines. As a matter of fact, communism would be a nice philosophy, were it not for the fact that greedy people tend to be the ones in power as well, and the workers suffer. The fact is, in all nations and peoples you are going to have people who sacrifice others for themselves and people who sacrifice themselves for others.
New technologies are exciting, useful, and many can be welcomed. But some can lead to tyranny. Just be aware that you are giving up more of yourself with each passing day with these new technologies and, like as not, it’s not going to end up in the hands of those who sacrifice themselves for you, but the other way around. Know what you want and measure the cost.
Meg Jones is a mom who works from home with a variety of jobs. She writes for work as well as for the joy of discovering new and unique things in this world.