Increasingly, our freedom and autonomy are threatened by those who seek to monitor and control every aspect of our daily lives. George Orwell’s “Big Brother” from the novel 1984 is a pale threat in comparison to the dystopian reality our leaders which have created for us since that book was published more than six decades ago.
Orwell clearly foresaw a future in which the state watches over and micromanages the lives of its subjects, but even he could scarcely have imagined the degree of surveillance and control that technology would make possible.
I also believe that he hoped we would avoid allowing this to happen — it seems clear that the book was designed as a warning, as were many others that were published in the 20th century. Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Huxley’s Brave New World are just two famous examples that come to mind.
One of the problems is that our freedoms are taken away incrementally, in small units and in the name of “national security” or “technological progress” — we don’t see the cumulative effect until it’s too late to do anything about it.
The latest encroachment on our privacy and daily actions comes in the form of what is being called “smart grid” technology.
UK utility company Northern Powergrid Holdings Co. (which is owned by mega-billionaire Warren Buffett) is cooperating with Siemens AG towards a planned test of a smart grid which will be able, according to Bloomberg.com, “to control when consumer appliances will be used in the home.