Published January 2018
Most people do not understand how computers work. This is why they use them in the way they do. They get the base idea of there being a screen that is controllable like a super charged Television set but the unquestioning nature of where data comes from and where theirs is going. The dazzle of a billion potential options for consumption has blinded many to the issues of ownership in a world of creation, weather they know they are creating or not.
For every single time someone writes a message or takes a photo, that is information that can be collected for the sake of latent hidden capital gain. For as obvious as those situations are it is the hidden collection and data processing that makes this a subject that is difficult to convey in understandable terms. For most the gravitas does not hit because there are few similes in the world. The trail of information they talk about and leave is not understood; if people are even thinking about it to begin with. The users mostly only see what is presented in front of them, completely unaware of what is going on behind the scenes. And even if the concept is explained, the single most addictive drug of human kind, convenience. It can over take the minds of even the smartest of people thus only leading to additional false credibility to some. This is something that has been exploited for decades now by those that seek power of the users. Wilful blindness that entraps the minds of the users into thinking their, or any ones, computer in any form is a machine that works for them and none other, it is a fools errand and one that will produce serious changes in society in years to come.
There are those that fight it but they are few and far between.
Every service we use that we do not have an immediate way of payment or base control is one that fundamentally works for those serving the information only. It is now a cliche almost but "If you don't pay for it, you're the product." - it is more valid than ever. For every picture, link, like, video etc, that we post or watch; a little more information is gather about you. It is just one more piece that can be used to control those people in future.
This data pertains to individuals and the groups they are a part of and it will be used against them in future.
While the specifics are not the same, the mentality has been a major part of our history before in the form of Nuclear power.
When Nuclear power first came about into the social consciousness it was pushed and seen as an endless supply of clean "limitless" energy. Clean it was not and limitless was just as big a lie. For the side effects of radiation that where present, most did not fear it because they did not truly understand what was being talked. If it was even been discussed. Nuclear Radiation was to the people of the 50s, what digital privacy is to today. Vastly misunderstood and widely ignored in favour of the potential benefits. Unaware of the time bomb they where sitting on. Social media and big data is promoted under the guise of keeping the users in touch with each other and up to date with the world. Clean-limitless entertainment. A harmless toy that allow one to feel like a movie star in their own world. It is a trap that has no other purpose than to keep you locked into a system of capital production. To be feed until fat and carved up at a digital butcher. People will go blind to the world if they are given enough distractions to keep the mind entrapped.
All the social media that people push out into the seemingly ethereal void of the internet, are unaware of the data silo they are self filling. Ready to blow up with the potential for the end of mass privacy as we know it. And with it the end of a dynamic and just society.
It took a big event like Chernobyl for people to really wake up to just how dangerous nuclear power could be. To peel back all the marketing and PR to see the rough dirty truth that had been covered up for decades before. For as elegant and as enthralling an idea can be, a single nasty truth can undo even the most convincing charade.
There had been warnings before hand but it needed a big near universal event to happen for the general public to be made aware of how dangerous this much lauded system was. There had been warnings before hand, mostly from environmental groups and scientists willing to put their reputation on the line. In events like the 3-mile island leaks they were seen as just nay-Sayers to a future technology. They were treated like a Quaker who fears technological change, shunned as just fearing what they did not understand. Despite they themselves not understanding. It is tribal scapegoating for the sake of self justification. An image that was instilled in the media so that the people would mirror it and would not question the system.
A stereo type that didn't fit except for the purpose of letting people sleep well at night and let those seeking profit to continue with their dangerous campaign.
When it comes to digital privacy, it all looks far to familiar. History is repeating itself, not in a nostalgic sense but in the sense of repeating the failures. Everyone from individuals to the biggest corporations are eagerly jumping on board the social media and online storage trend all because it is the convenient and solves the usability problem in the same way nuclear power solved energy needs. We see radiation as harsh and nasty but digital information in an almost Utopic nature, it is convenient and harmless because of its apparent simplicity. Convenience distilled into a potent drug. Not a new idea of sharing information but a new system structure for sharing information. It is not a necessity problem; it is an ease of use issue. One that many do not see the down side of as they only see what is immediately presented before them – the misunderstood nature of computers. Light a nuclear power light globe, you see the light globe but not the reactor behind it. Use the endless stream of data and you see social content but not see the privacy leaking out the back.
And despite all the warnings from various technology enthusiasts and psychologists as to the potential issues arising; people still ignore it for they still see almost nothing but the benefits. The danger gets bigger with ever passing moment but most are ignorant to its existence. It is Digital Radiation.
Digital radiation is dangerous and yet vague. There is no visible or tangible sign that there is anything going wrong. Physically high energy radiation is rarely felt but can shave decades of a persons life. You don't stumble over it like a pile of leaves or get blocked by a wall of Digital radiation, you only realise you where exposed to it years after the event. It is a long play, one that will most likely only be fully realised at large once it is too late. The Digital Chernobyl, or in this case—a highly visible use of this data pool; to crush a movement against those in power, or a data breach that reveals a massive amount of personal data to others. It is coming.
Where or when this will happen is unknown but enviable. Wherever there is the ability to weld power over others, it will be exploited by those with less scruples for others and a drive for personal gain regardless the larger impact.
The allure has been a little bruised in recent years. These services where once known as the fruits of "Teflon Companies", none of the dirt that was thrown at them in terms of the potential issues would stick. The illusion of what people wanted was enough to reject any potential issues. But as more and more pieces of information leak, the more people start to take notice. For every password leak, or photo dump there is the wake up call that should have people questioning. When 3 mile island should have been waking people up to the fears of radioactive material in the local environment. A data leak should do the same to us today.
The problem with radiation is it took for the worst case scenario, the full scale melt down and explosion of a reactor to get people to finally jump to action. I fear it will take a Digital Chernobyl for people to suddenly realise the reality of the digital world they live in. And yet like Chernobyl, by the time it happens, it is too late. We need to push back today, not tomorrow. Once the damage is done it will be irreversible for decades afterwards. The simple option today could mean a world worse off for most tomorrow.
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