By Captain Capitalist
George Orwell's gloomy predictions in the book "1984" have turned out to be exactly backward. In Orwell's view, the advance of technology empowered authoritarian government (Big Brother) to keep tabs on individuals and control every aspect of their lives. The reality has been just the opposite.
First of all, for an economy to develop advanced technology, one must have free enterprise. That's where the money comes from. The Soviet Union lost the cold war because they couldn't afford to keep up. China is gradually moving toward free market capitalism because it pays well. They will never reach their full potential until their society is also free. If and when that happens, more power to them. The reason for that is simple: Resource allocation as determined by billions of individual decisions made every minute is a much more efficient system than resource allocation by a handful of self-anointed elites.
The advance of technology in the west has actually lead to scenario's like the recent rebirth of Radio Caracas Television. Venezuelan strongman and international idiot, Hugo Chavez (until recently lauded as a visionary by many dolts, I mean pundits), shut down the station because it did not promote views consistent with his agenda. The station is now broadcasting daily via YouTube. The authoritarian government shut them down and the private sector put them back up.
Many people are now up in arms about Google's new Street View technology. Google's satellites provide a panoramic view of streets and intersections. When you look up an address you can actually see exactly where the building is, and what it looks like. People fear this may lead to a "Big Brother" scenario where the government can keep tabs on you 24/7. A real "Big Brother" scenario would be if the government took control of Google's cameras and pulled them from the web so that you and I couldn't access them. What we speculate was a massacre (we have to speculate because there were no camera's) at Tienemin Square in 1989 didn't take place until after the government kicked out the media and shut down all the cameras.
Bad guys and bad governments are like cockroaches. They don't like the light. The technologies being deployed today are not part of a monolithic enterprise, working together to keep you down. They are individual pieces of technology being made available to the public by a wide variety of organizations with differing and sometimes conflicting agendas. They are competing for your business and when one steps out of line, the others are more than happy to point that out to you.
Information technology is an extension of memory, but it's much more reliable and accurate. The current boom in sharing, transferring and storing information is akin to the invention of the written word. Billions of individuals can now share and build on each others ideas, and carry the effort forward to future generations. It's much harder now for governments and con men to hide the truth from the masses, and good ideas have a better chance of being brought to fruition than ever before.
If you're concerned about individuals being able to see what you're doing in public, here's an idea: Stop cheating on your wife, lying to your business partner, running red lights, stealing from you boss or trying to dupe the public. Then go home and get a good night's sleep.
Big Brother, we're watching you.