Friday, April 22, 2011

851 Orwell Was Wrong. And Right.

851 Orwell Was Wrong. And Right

What he was wrong about: picking the year 1984.

What he was right about: what would happen.

We’re about one or two notches away from those universal tracking devices. Orwell didn’t think beyond two-way telescreens. Pretty advanced techno thinking for his time, but way out of date now.

Orwell’s tracking devices were fictional and imposed. Today, they’re real, and more or less voluntary. In some cases, not just voluntary, but lusted for.

And even these devices will soon be outdated. We’re talking here about iPhones and iPads, and probably Android phones and tablet computers hooked to the cell tower networks. The cell companies are storing your GPS and cell phone data, deep in the bowels of their servers. Nothing really new about that. At the moment and for the foreseeable future, that will remain true. But wait. There’s more. They’re also storing it on your device.

So how long will it be until hackers find a way in (it’s already started, really) and sell your data to... who knows who?

We’re talking real time, date and time, latitude and longitude coordinate tracking, down to maybe 12 feet.

They need this for... what? The spokes-chorus says it’s so your device can find the nearest and/or most efficient tower to use. That begs the question of why they “need” a permanent record.

Not only is it on your device, the one you waited on line at Best Buy to buy on day-of-issue, but when you replace that device and transfer the stored data, this will go right along with your internet bookmarks, your browsing history and your contacts. You won’t see that part of the transfer, nor will you be able to find the files that contain the data. But they’ll be there.

Combine this with your MetroCard, you EZ Pass and your credit card, and your whole history will be there for anyone clever enough or willing to pay enough to get it. Call that 1984-point-one.

Orwellian vocabulary already abounds for those who care to recognize it. “Public Assistance.” “Spokesman.” “Peacekeeper Missiles.” “Valued Customer.” How far is that from NewSpeak and the Ministry of Truth?

In the generation after next, the tracking devices will grow eyes and ears and shrink in size to the point where when they implant them in a newborn or even in a fetus at seven months without telling the parents, no one will need to lust for an iPad.

Call that 1984-point-two.


Shrapnel:

--Charles Manson speaks out for the first time in 20 years, to say he has founded a group to fight global warming. Who cares and why? Environmentalists, because with friends like that (you know the rest.)

--Car talk: Fiat has increased its stake in Chrysler to 46 percent and the federal government apparently is speeding efforts to dump what’s left of its General Motors shares in a pell-mell race to break even. What do these guys know about these companies that the rest of us don’t?

--Remembering Ludwig Frohman, born 4/22/1901. “Uncle Ludy” to us all. And the kindest, gentlest gentleman who ever lived, and who lived far too few years.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com. Although that won’t soon be necessary, as I will tune you in and know what you’re thinking without your saying so.

Thanks to Charles Richards for the terms 1984.2 and .2.
© WJR 2011

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