- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Google seems to be taking a little skip down Big Brother lane with some George Orwell-like patent applications that give rise to images of the telescreens described in the popular “1984” novel of dystopian society — you know, the ones where thought police watch all, hear all and take note of all for Big Government.

In the book, the fictionalized book, mind you, screens that serve as televisions and as audio-slash-visual monitoring and recording devices are mounted at key spots in the public arena, as well as inside select citizens’ homes. They’re there so the governing authorities can keep an eye on things, make sure there aren’t any troublemakers getting any dangerous ideas about freedom and so forth. 

Google, apparently, isn’t content with leaving the technology to fiction.

As PJ Media reported: One Google patent potentially paves the way for a smart-home environment monitored by processors so powerful they can actually identify a presence in the building by name. Or, in the words of patent application No. 10,114,351: “[T]he high-power processor 20 and the low-power processor 22 may include image recognition technology to identify particular occupants and objects.”

Good golly, miss Molly. Granted, safety and security, especially at home, is important. But isn’t that what the Second Amendment, at least in part, already provides? How about a little ADT home surveillance? Or a good guard dog, perhaps?

“[T]he goal is to track us throughout the home — observing who is in each room, where we are moving, and what we are doing, ” PJ Media wrote.

This can’t end well.

Once upon a time, Orwell’s “1984” was shrugged as science fiction, dismissed as a “not in my backyard” type of deal — yes, read with eyes wide open, but only in the manner of watching a horror movie and feeling safe in the fear because, after all, it’s only a story.

Only in the manner of knowing that imaginations can’t hurt and that America, land of the free, home of the brave — country of the Constitution, my gosh! — just wouldn’t allow something like Big Brother to infiltrate the culture, or something like Big Government to strip individuals of their rights.

Right?

But that sense of society as envisioned by Founding Fathers has slowly eroded.

Now, we’ve got cameras on the street corners; thermal imaging scanners in law enforcement hands; surveillance drones in the skies. We’ve got full-body scanners at the airports; selectively placed ShotSpotter microphones in the communities; iris scanners at the schools. We’ve got microchips in humans — so they can access their offices instead of using keys. We’ve got facial scanning for public events — so police and powers-who-be can know who you are before you even tell who you are. We’ve got artificial intelligence robots that are being test-cased for everything from sex to war, from brothels to the battlefields.

Do we really now need Google pursuing technology to become the big screen god of modern day? Always watching, always listening — always recording for some unknown purpose, for some secretive source?

The solution here is not so much for government to regulate as it is for consumers, for Americans, to self-regulate.

We don’t need government to tell Google to stop. We just need to have enough impulse control and buying wisdom to resist purchasing what Google may one day offer.

After all, Google can make whatever “1984”-type technology it wants. But we don’t have to buy it. And if we don’t buy it — it won’t be.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.


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