The Potential for Tech Tyranny

on Monday, 01 January 2018. Posted in Diverse Articles

By Michael Brown

Spirit Daily

We've never focused on Facebook as a major platform for this website, and though we post occasional items, never will use it as a main vehicle.

It's not the right forum for a news site ( — for independence, let alone a Christian one — but rather, perhaps, better defined as a super-chat-instant-messenger room for friends and relatives (something the Facebook founder is now set on returning it to).

Used in the right way, it can be a splendid means of remaining in touch and sending warm wishes, as well as prayers; sharing valuable information. That's a big upside.

But the chief concern is that it's under the control of basically one person, Mark Zuckerberg, who perhaps is as nice a guy as he looks (he has donated to some worthwhile causes, as well as some not so worthwhile).

Think about it: worldwide, two billion people belong to Facebook. If these are actual numbers (certainly, active Facebook numbers are less than that), it would mean a population comparable to China, the U.S., and Indonesia — combined. (Here are the populations of nations.)

In fact Zuckerberg is working feverishly at establishing a major foothold in China, and already is all over Europe, much of Asia, South America, and the Middle East (where terrorists have used it). Russians like to toy with our social media, sending what can legitimately be called "fake" news items over it — bizarre stories (see, "pizzagate") made out of whole cloth (as opposed to simply biased ones) to disrupt our electoral process.

It's a wonderful thing in many ways — keeping family members and friends up to date on each other — as long as it is not prying too much into each other's lives, as long as it doesn't tend to frivolity and narcissism or venting spleens, and as long as it doesn't allow Zuckerberg and his company to pry into our own lives and know too much about each of us.

The FBI once sent a high-level official to Facebook, begging for some of its personal information — information on private citizens. Facebook has a bigger data base than the Federal Bureau of Investigation!

And now, besides having our phone numbers and addresses and birthdays, and a list of our friends and our personal histories and our credit-card numbers (if we use it for Facebook "boosts"), as well as logging what we read and chat about, Zuckerberg's company is ready to sell hardware with microphones and cameras that would be placed in your home. Meanwhile, both Facebook and Twitter send certain posts to target customers who they deem are extremists to counter their views.

He is just 34, Zuckerberg; little Big Brother.

Already, there have been warnings that "smart" televisions and even cell phones can be used to eavesdrop. It's no longer tin-foil paranoia. As we have long warned, the concerns about "one-world" control by a particular person or small cadre are perhaps better directed at global tech companies than government, military, or U.N.-like agencies.

Facebook is hardly a lone player — and in fact is not the biggest one.

There is Bezos of Amazon — now "worth" nearly $105 billion, about the same as the annual revenues for all of Italy.

He — Bezos — has mastered technology to the point of virtually controlling retail in the U.S., now going beyond online dominance into the brick-and-mortar domain, having purchased Wholefoods to enter the supermarket business and with reported plans to buy Target.

You can order a gift for someone, and Amazon will wrap it. They are developing their own delivery service — same-day delivery is on the near horizon. Soon, they may be using drones. They print and publish books, and have put many bookstores, as well as other small shops, out of business (and some, such as Borders, and perhaps soon Barnes and Noble, not so small). With astounding alacrity, Amazon has become a lifeline for countless Americans, even as far as pharmaceuticals.

According to latest statistics, eighty percent of Americans purchase from Amazon at least once a month. It has half of online retail. It is even threatening Costco, Best Buy, Energizer, Macy's, and Sears — with their very existence. It has captured fifty percent of the holiday shopping. Half of U.S. households not only use Amazon but belong to Amazon Prime. It is making movies. It owns a lion's share of the key internet service computer "clouds" (including ones used by the military). It is on the verge of selling cars. It launches rockets, or soon will. One state offered Amazon to name a city after it if it would locate a new center there.

Also: it has 45,000 robots — making more as fast and dehumanized as possible.

Think of the confidential personal information Amazon has. Meantime, Bezos bought The Washington Post as sort of a hobby, with pocket change.

Do we want so much in the control of a single entity, and in fact basically a single man, about whom we know so little?

Amazon wants to put a camera and microphone in your bedroom with the UK launch of its latest Echo home device. The camera ($129) on Echo Spot, which doubles up as a "smart alarm," will probably be facing directly at the user's bed. The device, which is already available in the U.S., has such sophisticated microphones it can hear people talking from across the room — even if music is playing. That's called eavesdropping. In regular retail outlets, tests are underway for "smart floors": technology that allows retail and supermarket chains to know exactly where we step (if they don't watch it on all those tiny security cameras).

Meanwhile, there is venerable Bill Gates, who looks as nice as Zuckerberg, but whose company, the titanic multi-national Microsoft, feels free — and somehow has been allowed — to take over your computer whenever it feels like it, installing updates even against your best efforts (and often to the detriment of your device). That's an invasion of privacy.

Ditto for Apple. It messes with your phone without full permission. (Look at how many own iPhones — more than a billion.)

Something isn't right here.

Is there — or could there — one day be a way of monitoring everyone through such devices, especially as they move to facial recognition or skin implants (just swipe your wrist, please)?

And Twitter?

Said one insider, clandestinely taped: "Twitter is aggressively harvesting your personal information and tracking your every movement, selling your virtual dossier to the highest bidder."

"Even more alarming is that these Twitter employees don't seem to think that they are the 'biggest brother' out there," says James O'Keefe of Project Veritas, which has released undercover footage of Twitter engineers and employees admitting that Twitter employees view all of your private messages on their servers, and analyze it to create a "virtual profile" of you which they sell to advertisers. "We have more to come – stay tuned…"

Google? It can look down from a satellite on your yard and house (and already has a picture of it from ground level). Noted one pro-life blog: "The world's most popular internet tool appears to be not only targeting conservative sites for criticism, but it has been caught bungling the 'facts' it refutes. Search engine and social media giant Google has added a new feature offering outside evaluations of news reporting." Meanwhile there are about two billion of its Android devices worldwide.

This is now an urgent matter that has been pushed to the wayside while we are consumed with entertainment and Wall Street glee. Too much tech in the hands of far too few.

Are these all altruistic, public-minded folks (Gates and his wife are scolding the world on its health and providing birth control), or could one or more be nefarious?

Any one of them could develop into a threat. And if it continues the upward spiral, not even government will be in a position to stop it.

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