In China major steps are taken towards a society in which citizens are continuously monitored, monitored and assessed. A social score must ensure that one is waiting for the traffic light, often visits family and shows up at work on time. Violations result in penalty points and thus a lower score with which you are less entitled to a good job or an apartment. It is still optional now, but by 2020 the Chinese citizen will no longer escape it. De Volkskrant writes in an article about Chinese technology that we are still ‘wary’ in terms of technological progress in the West. A remarkable choice of words, because it suggests that China is on the right path and that we do not dare ‘yet’. Nonsense, because the developments in China are striking and leave little of the concept of privacy as we know it and to which we, rightly, attach great value. I sincerely wonder if we are heading in the same direction as China, and whether it is time to oppose the developments.
Totalitarian and privacy-free
In pop culture, societies such as the future China are described with horror. Examples of such as 1984, Blade Runner, We and The Circle. Stories such as these describe a daring society in which technology shapes daily life, resulting in a totalitarian state in which a lack of privacy and freedom becomes reality. Dystopian stories like these speak to the imagination of a large audience, precisely because there is always a core of truth and real threat in the situation that is outlined. The situation today is already significantly different from the situation of 20 years ago. Anno 2018 anyone with a smartphone can film each other. This happens even though with drones. This has already led to a shift in the privacy boundary of modern man. We have become accustomed to it more and more and do not necessarily have it, until it goes too far. Think for example of the topless woman on the Amsterdam Gay Pride. A video of her was on the internet in no time. You may wonder if she should have taken this into account, but the fact remains that her privacy has been violated. How free are you in modern society?
Boundaries are fading and standards are shifting. That indicates the previous example. However, this is so gradual that one simply adapts to the new standards in the long term and actually takes them for granted. Is an individual able to oppose it at all? This is certainly not the case in China. Citizens in China are not able to really resist the speed with which government and tech companies change society. That is where the new standard is imposed and perhaps that is why ‘we in the west’ are so ‘hesitant’. I dare to say that our society is slowly becoming more and more like what is becoming reality in China. It’s going so slowly that we might only realize it when it’s that far. I wonder if there is going to be a limit somewhere or that everyone will passively face his new fate.
De Volkskrant suggests that we are hesitant. Is there technophobia in the West, the fear of technology and a lack of trust? On the contrary. Developments here also go faster than the consumer or citizen knows how to adjust. We get voice assistants into our living room, before we see the point of it. We philosophically discuss the applications of blockchain and cryptos, but that is largely the case. Modern technology has a tendency to make our lives easier, more productive, more secure and safer. We use activity trackers to stay healthy and as a result we walk around the whole day. A modern slave of technology.
Really useful applications of new technologies often become apparent only after they have been put on the market. Take Boston Dynamics, for example. This company will soon sell robotic dogs, Nu.nl reports. In this article literally states: “It is not clear what kind of applications the company has in mind.” Nevertheless, we have all kinds of expectations and it is applauded. I hope that people have seen the [BlackWar episode in which exactly such a dog comes into action. To get back to the core: there is no question of technophobia in the West. And I certainly do not exclude that we are facing a Chinese reality. I wonder how you look at it. Is it time to revolt and draw limits? Or do you mainly see advantages in technological progress?