While a British man was not only harassed by British police for attempting to hide his face from facial recognition tech but also fined and charged with 'disorderly behavior' for doing so, as the top rated comment on the Daily Mail story had asked, "how does this work for people who cover their faces for religious purposes?" An interesting fact shared on their story: The new technology incorrectly identified people in 96% of matches from 2016 to 18!
Between the all-encompassing surveillance that has been established across America and the world over the past decade+ to censorship being the 'new norm' to the Orwellian language used by government agencies, the mainstream media and 'big tech', it's easy to see why so many believe that "1984" really was an 'instruction manual' to create global tyranny.
So with the 70th birthday of "1984" just behind us, we'll be taking a look within this ANP story at a number of different signs '1984 is here now'. And while America is not quite where the nation of China is with their all-encompassing surveillance and their social credit systems, as we'll explore below, we're not that far away and have been moving steadily in that direction every day for many years running.
If you like the amazing drawing at the top of this story by Sikh artist Raj Singh Tattal which calls out the totalitarian big tech book burning nazis, we invite you to visit his website here to see his other artwork, some for sale. If you'll notice, the 'boot stamping upon the human face' has the logos of facebook, twitter, google and what looks like instagram on it, the new 'nazi book burners' of 2019. From the twitter page of the artist, Raj Speakers Corner.:
Adding the final touches to my drawing titled '1984 IS HERE'. After weeks of disruption and family issues i am now almost done. The artwork is about social media behaving like fascists, banning and silencing free speech. The boot has a logo representing all the main social media.
Even this 2013 opinion piece at CNN saved over at Archive warned that we were living within "1984" today as the technologies of Orwell's nightmare explode into reality while censorship has become the 'new norm'. And as their story concludes, with modern day government the new 'big brother', we are all 'Winston Smith' in 2019.
Comparisons between Orwell's novel about a tightly controlled totalitarian future ruled by the ubiquitous Big Brother and today are, in fact, quite apt. Here are a few of the most obvious ones.
Telescreens -- in the novel, nearly all public and private places have large TV screens that broadcast government propaganda, news and approved entertainment. But they are also two-way monitors that spy on citizens' private lives. Today websites like Facebook track our likes and dislikes, and governments and private individuals hack into our computers and find out what they want to know. Then there are the ever-present surveillance cameras that spy on the average person as they go about their daily routine. (ANP: And as we all know by now, 'they' can turn on our computer and cell phone cameras/microphones to 'look in' any time they want!)
The endless war -- In Orwell's book, there's a global war that has been going on seemingly forever, and as the book's hero, Winston Smith, realizes, the enemy keeps changing. One week we're at war with Eastasia and buddies with Eurasia. The next week, it's just the opposite. There seems little to distinguish the two adversaries, and they are used primarily to keep the populace of Oceania, where Smith lives, in a constant state of fear, thereby making dissent unthinkable -- or punishable. Today we have the so-called war on terror, with no end in sight, a generalized societal fear, suspension of certain civil liberties, and an ill-defined enemy who could be anywhere, and anything.
Doublethink -- Orwell's novel defines this as the act of accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct. It was exemplified by some of the key slogans used by the repressive government in the book: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. It has also been particularly useful to the activists who have been hard at work introducing legislation regulating abortion clinics. The claim is that these laws are only to protect women's health, but by forcing clinics to close because of stringent regulations, they are effectively shutting women off not only from abortion, but other health services.
Newspeak -- the fictional, stripped down English language, used to limit free thought. OMG, RU serious? That's so FUBAR. LMAO.
Memory hole -- this is the machine used in the book to alter or disappear incriminating or embarrassing documents. Paper shredders had been invented, but were hardly used when Orwell wrote his book, and the concept of wiping out a hard drive was years in the future. But the memory hole foretold both technologies. (ANP: 'Big tech' specializes in 'memory holing'.)
So what's it all mean? In 1984, Winston Smith, after an intense round of "behavior modification" -- read: torture -- learns to love Big Brother, and the harsh world he was born into. Jump forward to today, and it seems we've willingly given up all sorts of freedoms, and much of our right to privacy. Fears of terrorism have a lot to do with this, but dizzying advances in technology, and the ubiquity of social media, play a big part.
There are those who say that if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of. But the fact is, when a government agency can monitor everyone's phone calls, we have all become suspects. This is one of the most frightening aspects of our modern society. And even more frightening is the fact that we have gone so far down the road, there is probably no turning back. Unless you spend your life in a wilderness cabin, totally off the grid, there is simply no way the government won't have information about you stored away somewhere.
What this means, unfortunately, is that we are all Winston Smith. And Big Brother is the modern surveillance state.
In the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, there is an all-encompassing surveillance state that keeps a watchful eye on everyone, in search of possible rebels and points of resistance.
Censorship is the norm in this world, and is so extreme that individuals can become “unpersons” who are essentially deleted from society because their ideas were considered dangerous by the establishment. This is an idea that is very familiar to activists and independent journalists who are being removed from the public conversation for speaking out about government and corporate corruption on social media. (ANP: And exactly what they're doing to 'outcasts' in China and increasingly here in the US!)
The technological predictions made in the book were truly uncanny, as they give a fairly accurate description of our modern world. Orwell described “telescreens,” which acted as both an entertainment device and a two-way communication device. This type of technology was predicted by many futurists at the time, but Orwell’s prediction was unique because he suggested that these devices would be used by the government to spy on people, through microphones and cameras built into the devices.
Unfortunately, just like in Orwell’s book, people in the modern world are so distracted by entertainment and the divided by politics that they have no idea they are living in a tyrannical police state. This police state was also a strong deterrent in the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, because although many of the citizens in the book had a positive opinion of “big brother,” it was still something that they feared, and it was a force that kept them in control. Of course, this is not much different from the attitude that the average American or European has when confronted with police brutality and government corruption.
Many of the ideas about power and authority that were expressed in Orwell’s classic are timeless and as old as recorded history; but his analysis of how technology would amplify the destructive nature of power was incredibly unique, especially for his time.
In this May of 2018 story over at Privacy Online they reported that many different US businesses and public facilities are quickly moving in China’s footsteps, with Amazon and US schools normalizing automatic facial recognition within their ever-present and constant surveillance systems which leave virtually no face unrecognized.
Tracking a student throughout the day, and recording everyone he or she interacts with, seems like a rather extreme response to an offense against the school’s code of conduct. It’s particularly problematic because it turns blanket surveillance into a practice that students are expected to regard as totally routine. In other words, it normalizes constant high-tech monitoring by the authorities.
The situation in China shows where that leads. As Privacy News Online reported recently, the Chinese authorities have turned to advanced facial recognition to spot people on their wanted list that are hoping to escape notice by taking refuge in large crowds. But the roll out of these systems in the country is much wider than occasional high-profile incident, and has a long and disturbing history.
Total surveillance systems were pioneered in Tibet, and then perfected in Xinjiang. In the latter region, facial scans are used to track every movement of the local Uyghur population, with police intervention if they move outside narrowly-defined areas. Now technology honed in troubled regions is beginning to be deployed in major Chinese cities. For example, the Beijing metro will soon be using facial recognition as a matter of routine.
Given this constant expansion, it’s no surprise that surveillance is big business in China, with all the major Internet companies there involved in one way or another. As the Chinese government continues to install more such systems, prices will drop further, and the technology will steadily improve, as is already happening with Amazon’s Rekognition system. That will make its use around the world an increasingly attractive option for the authorities, with security invoked – as usual – as the reason for this massive assault on privacy. The danger is that everywhere will turn into China, where people are under surveillance all the time, with facial recognition used to monitor where they go, who they talk to – and few will even care. It’s already about to happen in US schools, and Amazon has its cloud-based technology ready and waiting for a massive roll-out everywhere else.
In the 1st video below titled "George Orwell And 1984: How Freedom Dies", our videographer explores why George Orwell believed totalitarianism was a great risk to the entire modern West and as we've seen in the 70 years since Orwell wrote his prescient book, he was right on the money about much of it. In the 2nd and final video, videographer Truth Unveiled takes a look at China's social credit system, all of the censorship that we've been witnessing here in America and asks if all of this is the prelude to a huge event that changes the entire game and launches America fully tumbling into tyranny.
With extraordinary relevance and renewed popularity, George Orwell’s 1984 takes on new life in this hardcover edition.
“Orwell saw, to his credit, that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of asserting power.”—The New Yorker
In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Lionel Trilling said of Orwell’s masterpiece “1984 is a profound, terrifying, and wholly fascinating book. It is a fantasy of the political future, and like any such fantasy, serves its author as a magnifying device for an examination of the present.” Though the year 1984 now exists in the past, Orwell’s novel remains an urgent call for the individual willing to speak truth to power.
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