Technological Dystopia

Can I just say I love this life?  There’s so much to see, so much to do, that my short attention span (call it ADHD if you wish) is seldom a hindrance.  I can flip from writing (which takes up most of my time) to laundry or dig into research on spinal meningitis.  I can fly with dragons over a distant mountain range and then decide to swim in the deep ocean–all without leaving my home.

The internet is part of this, although I think that even without technology I’d be scatterbrained.  Technology just makes it easier to flip from one topic to another.  And we are surrounded by technology.  Cell phones, internet, cars, even kitchen blenders use tiny pieces that are constantly broadcasting the details of our lives.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone could read all those details, from what you had for breakfast to the kind of laundry detergent you use?

In reality, “they” can.  “They” can track what kind of detergent you buy, where you go in your GPS equipped car and how much gas you buy.  “They” can find out who you called and the exact location of that call.  “They” know how much water you use and control your electricity.  “They” control what we watch on TV, what movies are available, and the price of gas.

Do we already live in a form of dystopia?

A modern, technological dystopia would be a little different than the dystopia of earlier ages.  Based on the world around us we already know that it is possible for people to know every detail of our lives.  We accept this.  We understand and accept that “they” can control those details.  We seldom question it.

In our theoretical dystopia, a law is passed (for our protection) which limits the amount of salt used in a day.  The dystopian government (Lets call them the Harks) know that you have 3 people in your house.  They know how often you go out to eat. They know how long it should take for you to use the box of salt you just purchased.  If you use it too quickly, the salt police may show up at your door.

The Harks also know that you’re having a dinner party, since you put it out on social media, and they know who is invited.  They have a good idea what you’re making (ingredients list, you know) and the computer power to put all this information together.  They know that the recipe you’re using (downloaded from the internet) uses more salt than would be allowed for that number of people.

Yourself and all your guests vanish, leaving the food untouched on the table.  Neighbors wonder about alien abductions and go on with their lives.

It is not that far from collecting information to using it.  From using it to abusing it.   Each of these theoretical (dystopian) societies got to a point where someone was capable of using technology for control and chose to act on it.  Each technological step makes that kind of control both simpler and more likely.

That is a world I choose not to live in, so I’ll stockpile salt against the evil Harks world domination schemes.  I’ll put my (lack of) holiday plans out on Facebook and let the world know where I am by GPS.

I’ll celebrate a society where we are still free this 4th of July.


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