George Orwell may be very pleased as many of his 1984 predictions foretelling today's surveillance society have come true, but I am also sure he would be amazed that we buy our own security cameras and install them, then feel disappointed if no one is watching.
No doubt other future gazing authors of the past, including Aldous Huxley, would also be shocked by the open nature of toady's society and the way we eagerly embrace what they considered to be evil and invasive.
Most of our purchases and movements are now observed and/or tracked, and every personal device is equipped with cameras and sound systems - making us all mobile surveillance systems for the accessing.
Another surprising ‘1984 about-face' is our new found openness. We now hide very little and share many aspects of our lives on social networks whilst ‘all listening' AI terminals in homes, offices and vehicles can monitor, control and schedule everything including online purchasing.
How come we accept all this? Convenience, fashion and social acceptance are all in there somewhere along with a very positive upside to our lives and that of friends, family and colleagues. This has quickly become the new social norm, and in the next phase it seems likely that medical records, complaints and cures along with life and lifestyle histories will also be embraced.
People now share - on- and off-net - in ways they have never done in the past. Search out the facts on some allergy you might have and you find acres of professional and public contributions. Mention your allergy to a waiter or waitress and it is amazing how many will say:, "No problem at all - I suffer with that too, so I fully understand".
As a society there has been a gradual awakening to the fact that openness and sharing can really help others in almost every aspect of their lives from health and education to shopping, entertainment, sport, hobbies, employment and profession development.
So where next? Machines are most probably the next entities to be included into our sharing culture. AI and robots already learn from, and/or get trained by humans in industry, but that trend is about to accelerate into the office and home by AI in almost everything, including vehicles and the slow rollout of robot helpers.
This all poses a key question: How do we keep control and maintain some level of privacy? The answer probably isn't to switch everything off! That option is becoming increasingly difficult - there is too much of it - and disconnecting all the power feeds and removing all the batteries is simply impractical.
So our options are limited! Leave your phone at home and go for a walk in the country! Or, if you have a big enough home, designate a room as technology free. At the same time, the paranoid may go for something more drastic like wrapping themselves in tinfoil or living without electricity on a remote island.
In reality it appears most of us are relaxed about the gradual ‘creep' of technologies into our lives and the supposed subliminal threat of ever more tracking and observation.
Today, the UK has more street and building cameras per capita than any other nation, and we also have to add the windscreen and head mounted cameras plus many more. Of course, the pessimists continue to predicted that this is a dangerous and untenable state, but their voices are drowned out by the majority enjoying the extra personal security and networking.
The reality is we do not live in a ‘Big Brother state', but more a ‘Little Brother society' along with a rising consensual ethic.
Peter Cochrane OBE is an ex-CTO of BT who now works as a consultant who focuses on solving problems and improving the world through the application of technology
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