As concerned citizens march through city streets with cleverly written placards, expressing frustration towards leaders for their perceived inaction on climate change, an unintended consequence emerges. While the focus on environmental issues remains all-consuming, other critical matters slip by unnoticed.
Every decade we are handed something new to fear, a new end-of-the-world scenario to keep us up at night. I can't help but feel I'm watching a magic show and climate change is the new beautiful assistant distracting me from the sleight of hand by the magician, but regardless of whether it is intentional or not, our finite attention is being distracted while other serious issues get a pass.
Presently the reality is a surveillance apparatus is slowly growing like a weed in our public lives. As we use all our energy protesting things such as the use of fossil fuels, Australian journalists are being raided by Australian Federal Police, new and ever more draconian security laws are implemented that erode our privacy rights under the guise of public safety, police now being issued with automatic weapons, the list goes on.
Within the next two decades, it appears increasingly likely that a comprehensive surveillance system will permeate every aspect of our existence. China, already a pioneer in this regard, has implemented a "Social Credit System," where individuals are assigned ratings based on factors such as loan defaults and fraudulent activities.
The consequences of a low social credit score can be severe, severely disadvantaging those individuals within Chinese society. Charlie Campbell, writing for Time magazine, elaborates on the dystopian aspects, describing scenarios where blacklisted individuals trigger sirens and receive public warnings, or have their faces and ID numbers projected on electronic billboards as they cross certain intersections.
Advancements in technology, including facial recognition systems, push the boundaries of anonymity, particularly for Chinese citizens. The ability to match faces to a database of 1.3 billion ID photos in seconds, with a 90% accuracy target, brings an end to privacy as we know it. Jiaquan Zhou, writing for the South China Post, sheds light on the deployment of bird-like drones and other avian-inspired surveillance devices, enabling over 30 military and government agencies to spy on people across multiple Chinese provinces. These robotic birds flawlessly mimic the movements of real birds, soaring through the sky to discreetly observe the populace.
When these technologies converge, the Communist state's dream of complete surveillance and control over its citizens edges closer to realization.
This is merely the beginning, and it is only a matter of time before we all find ourselves ensnared within such a system. Initially, innocuous intentions may be presented, such as enhancing border security. However, the ultimate outcome will be government exerting absolute control over our lives.
While safeguarding our planet remains imperative, it would be ideal if the same level of passion and outrage were directed towards government actions that erode our fundamental freedoms. The consequences of our indifference will be a future rife with dystopian levels of surveillance.
Imagine a scenario where attending a peaceful protest leads to government cameras swiftly identifying and punishing dissenters. The price to pay may be substantial indeed.