Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dawn of a technologically enhanced age of barbarism?

Chris Hedges writes:
Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the tea party movement, the birthers, the legions of conspiracy theorists or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism.
For a good whiff of the "technologically enhanced age of barbarism" of which Hedges speaks, I would refer you to a story on the front page of today's USA Today entitled "Homeland Security to Test Iris Scanners":
The Homeland Security Department plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people's eyes in a database...

The department will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department's Science and Technology branch....

Homeland Security will test cameras that take photos from 3 or 4 feet away, including one that works on people as they walk by, Vemury said.

In 2007, the U.S. military began taking iris scans of thousands of Iraqis to track suspected militants....

Financial companies hope the scans can stop identity fraud, said Jeff Carter of Global Rainmakers, a New York City firm developing the technology. "Iris is going to completely reshape the fraud environment," he said.
I thought the article read like an account straight out of the world of George Orwell's 1984.   We can be sure that the widespread acceptance and use of biometric identification technology would give governments -- governments that are not sufficiently democratic -- far too much power over citizens.  That's surely the direction in which things are headed. Only this year, the US Congress passed a law saying that anyone arrested for a crime would be compelled to provide a blood sample.   And the blood sample could be stored indefinitely.
I think it's ironic that many of today's leading surveillance technologies were first deployed in liberated Iraq.  It seems certain that an occupation that has taught the Iraqi people far too little about freedom will have greatly accelerated the development of technologies that could mean far less freedom for everyone.   

There's a lot of money to be made watching, tracking, and influencing our behavior.  Thanks to endless war and the national security state, governments are inseparable from the companies that are developing the surveillance technologies of tomorrow.   The system itself spells trouble.

1 comment:

  1. "enhanced" contacts or mirrored sunglasses, anyone...


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