Written by: Daniel Julien
The world of 1984 is a terrible place, as we all know. The government there used technology to control and monitor the people successfully. We understand how terrible the Party’s and Big Brother’s control over society is and we feel that if anything like this were to happen in real life, we would all fight the terrible oppressive government. There is no way our society would stand for that and conform to the ruthlessness of tyranny. This is all true, but that is implying that we are aware of the situation. If we did not know that we are being controlled and watched, how could we fight against it? What if we do live in 1984?
At this moment you would believe there is no way this could be happening, of course, because we are all intellectual beings, it simply couldn’t happen to us. Maybe we should take a step back to look back at history to what is happening in the present.
We try to stop evil people from coming into power, but we as the world, still miss some. We see all throughout history evil people taking advantage of the weaker in positions of power. Even if they started in a politically powerful position, evil people don’t care about others and use any means to gain control or power, often at the cost of other. WWII proved how devastating man can be and what measures were taken to stop the evil and chaos of world war. For example, in order to force the Japanese to surrender, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on highly populated Japanese cities, killing hundreds of thousands of people. This clearly gave great power to the United States government.
Since then, weapon technologies have still been in development up to date (given the discontinue of nuclear arms development for most of the globe) and arms are still being researched and manufactured. Today, the United States military budget is the largest in the world. If you compared the United States defense budget to the rest of the world, the United States spends well over twice as much as the rest of the world combined. The military budget was nearly a whopping one trillion dollars. Even with recent budget cuts, there is still a high budget. A lot of this money has been used for unmanned aircrafts, humanoid robotics development, deadlier/more efficient weapons, intelligence tracking technologies, and much more. An example of one of these technologies is a video surveillance platform called ARGUS. It is a 1.8 gigapixel camera attached to a remotely controlled drone that records video over 25 square miles and can track all moving objects up to someone’s hand at 20,000ft in the air. Not only that, but it stores all the footage for current and future use in Washington.
On another note, computer technologies are exponentially getting better and better. In fact, they are predicted to exceed the human brain’s capabilities by 2030. These computers will most likely be under the governments control for a long while before the release to the public. Many computer users report using Google on a regular basis. It is free and easy to use. Although, to use these services you must give up your privacy: something most people do not think about. Do you ever wonder what happens after you search something on their main website? Well, all the information goes back to Google’s database and is stored for as long as they would like. It has been proven that this information can be used to construct a profile of users. Google is a reliable company and we know they are not selling out information, but we all know that nothing is hack proof as we have especially seen over recent years.
On a much smaller scale, we are all familiar with cell phones. Cell phones are now the largest means of communication across most of the world. They do almost anything we want now, not to mention their calling functions. Sometimes we do not think about how they are information storehouses, microphones, cameras, or location tools. A recent study shows that about 91% of Americans use cell phones.
That means at any time, 91% of American’s locations can be tracked, not to mention other Americans using differing tools to access the internet. As a matter of fact during the Bush administration, President Bush authorized tapping in to every American phone call after the tragic 9/11 event without the public’s consent. Even if you are part of the small few who do not own a cell phone, there are cameras all over our cities. When was the last public place you went to without a camera watching over your shoulder? What if instead of a camera, it was machine that monitored your thoughts to make sure you weren’t planning to commit a crime? No, no, that couldn’t be… Our mind is a powerful structure that cannot be tapped into. It would be absurd to think otherwise.
But recent developments do seem to say otherwise. For instance, robotic arms have been being tested for years and years now, but just recently, scientists have made a connection via wire in the brain that can therefore allow the brain to control the robotic arm freely and smoothly.
Researchers are planning on incorporating wireless technology to remove the need for wired connection between the robot and the brain. More connections have been made in brains, alternatively of mice where two mice could communicate over a kilometer away via just a brain implant. On the more recreational side, there is a new toy helicopter that can be fully controlled by just putting a headband-like object around your head and thinking. This simple toy uses brainwave detection to convert signals into commands.
So does this mean that when we think, our brainwaves can be used as a sort of language? Maybe man could translate certain brain waves into certain words to create an understandable, accurate language of what we are thinking. And if machines can receive the signals of what people are thinking, can they implant or manipulate certain waves back to force a thought upon someone? Though this is not yet possible, it is still seems to be coming closer to reality every day, especially in this day and age.
On a different but related note, news media is shown all over the internet and on dominant television channels and is taken as general fact. Nearly half a century ago there were around 50 news stations on television and today there are about 5 dominant ones: ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN. Not to discredit these networks that have a large amount of truthful information provided to the public, but it is wise to think about where their sources are, where do their funds come from, are they biased towards some things, does to government prevent some information from being spread, and does money and higher-ups influence the validity of the information presented to the public as fact? It would be a great deal to even try to find out, which impresses upon the idea that there are things to hide. The same goes for our government with hiding secret information from the public eye such as new technological developments and information concerning government affairs. They also tell what information needs to be taught in school and what mindset we need to have about that information. Not only that, but the government’s budget is very high and the government sure knows how to spend a lot of money on who knows what, even with the huge national debt. That is just how things work because the government has the power over that nation, like it always has.
With all of its power over the people and access to all these major technologies and more, it would be accurate to say that the government does potentially have the power to completely control over people, mentally and therefore physically. The government doesn’t necessarily need a machine to implant thoughts in your head, just control over the infrastructure of the world around you. The government already uses a lot of tracking technologies to try to manage the citizens of the country, and soon they will obtain even more sophisticated technologies of mind and physical observation and control. Once created, they could go so far as to arrest anyone for having violent thoughts even if they had committed no action upon them. Even without complete mind reading technology, we are all in a sense being controlled in this day and age. So the simple question still stands: How close is our reality to 1984, or is our reality 1984?