I made you this*.
*Someone else made that.
I think this must by now be a familiar topic -- the ability of new technology to pose new threats to our health, general well-being, and social life, as well as to open new possibilities for us.
One thinks immediately of hot topics such as "smart meters":
British families at risk from smart meters, campaigners tell MPs - TelegraphOfficials said smart meters are perfectly safe, as the level of radiation they emit is less than that of a mobile phone. Energy companies are planning to install the devices in British homes by 2019 to make gas and electricity readings more accurate.
However, Stop Smart Meters UK told MPs that there is evidence the radiation could be 140 to 800 times higher than that from mobile phones.
Dr Liz Evans, a campaigner, said there are hundreds of studies showing "evidence of harm could be acute", including possible "chronic effects from long term exposure such as cancer, infertility, dementia, genetic damage, immune system dysfunction and damage to foetuses". ...
One could also note that there are privacy issues involved here -- and possible security issues, since a signal from a smart meter could potentially be intercepted and decoded, giving information to housebreakers on who is at home and who not. And this is just one example of a current hot topic.
Here's another that I wasn't even aware of. This is something I stumbled upon while not even looking for it. It's about RFID chipped identity cards proposed for use in Greece. It's the EU at the back of this. The proposals have been slung out of the Palace of Westminster in Great Britain; but, I understand, the Germans have already accepted a similar system.
What's proposed for Greece sounds even creepier than anything anyone else has yet had imposed on them. Greece, like the Republic of Ireland, got suckered into the EU relatively late with promises of big handouts and advantages and is now discovering that this was the bait to hook the worm. The real long-term purpose was, of course, for those inside the EU bureaucracy to Empire-build on their own behalf.
The talk I found is from 2011 so may be outdated. It also comes wrapped in a certain amount of apocalyptic angst. I mean that in a quite literal sense: Greeks, many of whom are still highly religious, have, it seems, been inclined to see signs of the "End Times" in these proposals. And opposition to these cards has come from bishops and the monks of Mount Athos, who seem to take these thoughts quite seriously. My own view is that we should be cautious when approaching apocalyptic writings: it's an unusual and difficult genre and, many theologians would say, is more likely to have reference to the writer's own time than to distant futurity. (So, for example, St. John the Divine in Revelation is most likely thinking of the persecutions being undertaken at the time by the Roman Empire.)
However, the perfectly down to earth effects and possible ramifications are, in my opinion, worrying enough in all conscience. According to the speaker here the Greek government wanted to put two chips into these "citizens' cards", could give no coherent account of what they wanted all the technology for and why, besides offering comments that were self-contradictory. The selling point seems to be that the cards would "save money" -- since they would be a step towards the "cashless society" -- and would help to prevent tax evasion.
It seems that it was proposed that the cards would be used for just about everything -- not only for governmental functions. If, for example, you went to a doctor, the fact of the visit and information about it would be sent to a database. When you arrived at work you'd swipe the card, as you would when you left. If you bought your lunch, that would be recorded by the card. If you bought "gas" for your car, so would that be. They could know where you were in the city by scanning the RFID chips of people as they walked down the street. And so on and so forth.
One begins to see why the MPs in the British parliament were nervous of the things. (Some at least of them are honest men.)
The speaker points out that this level of monitoring of a population is akin to what Orwell imagined in the novel 1984. He also points out that there are few, or perhaps no, databases that have not been broken into by unauthorised persons, so that this information wouldn't, in practice, even be restricted to an over-powerful state (or over-powerful private company, if the work were contracted out) but to any competent hacker. He asks what the implications could be with respect to freedom of communication, assembly, and movement. He also raises the eerie possibility that, since electronic data is quite easily changed, someone could put false data into someone's electronic record, and the more all-encompassing and widely used the system is the worse the effect of such falsification would be.
As I say, the talk comes wrapped in some rather dubious theological thinking, but for all that there's food for thought here. I should think that governments around the world will keep coming back for bites at this cherry. Grok, I suppose, actually had a fairly supervised life -- tribal customs and peer-enforcement of norms seem to have happened in small-scale societies at a level that would make our hair stand on end -- but at least he knew who was watching him. The prospect of the faceless, unaccountable bureaucratic watcher is not a pleasant one.
Here's the link:
If anyone else has any more up-to-date links on RFID technology and its current or projected applications, perhaps they'd be kind enough to post them here.
I made you this*.
*Someone else made that.