For years -- decades now --- many have fretted of a time when some entity would rise to seize control of the global populace, perhaps after unification of nations into a single or semi-singular conglomeration.
Most point to government as the likeliest candidate -- whether American, Russian, or Chinese, or one based out of the United Nations or some other international power center (from the World Health Organization to the European Union, there are many of them).
But if a controlling entity is to arise -- an entity with a true stranglehold, which we consider a distinct possibility -- it could well come out of the corporate, private, technological sector.
In this regard one watches in an attempt to obviate the overwhelming rise and dominance of digital companies such Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter, and some others.
We already know how dominant Microsoft has been -- and how it has taken a role on the international stage outside of the tech world (sometimes in a way that is beneficial, other times, as with contraception, far more questionable).
Where will Facebook go?
Its founder seems headed in precisely the Gates direction, perhaps even more aggressively.
And this is significant.
Facebook now claims 1.65 billion monthly users -- or nearly a quarter of the world's population.
The number of actual, regular users, or at least intense ones, of course, is likely substantially lower. Much is smoke and mirrors, including statistics on "likes" and post "reaches": Not even Facebook seems to know how exactly that is calculated.
But the numbers are astronomical no matter how they are shuffled, and chilling it has been in recent days to read of Facebook's alleged stifling of conservative news outlets in its "trending" news section -- and how it outright wants to control the flow of news via alogorithm by creating something called "instant articles," whereby users no longer click on outside links for a story but instead get everything directly from Facebook's servers. And they want news organizations who desire participation to submit ten sample articles for their discernment.
How brilliant and all-knowing they are, these young folks, out in the land of silicon! Prayer need. So young...
In a recent expose, journalists hired by Facebook to vet (censor?) the "trending" (important) news discussed how they felt about their experience. They said -- and this chills a bit -- it was as if Facebook was learning a way to create a program that would vet as they, the "curators," were asked to do. "It was degrading as a human being," said one. "We weren't treated as individuals. We were treated in this robot way" -- as modules to design algorithms that will take their place.
How might they treat the rest of us?
Ironically, Facebook, it seems, is into facelessness.
Our discernment is that this is a grab for power and larruping dangerous control of the news, if not much of the internet itself. Further advice (if you will excuse it): Those using Facebook should be extra careful to keep their independence in mind -- cautious in not being overly dependent on it. Many users now spend fifty minutes or more a day on this particular social medium. It has so much information on us that even government agencies have sought its help in collecting information.
As for Apple: it recently refused to cooperate with the FBI -- the United States government -- in cracking an iPhone that had been used in that terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California (an attack that costs fourteen lives). The government was forced to spend $1.5 million and weeks of expert hacking to finally access the phone. This is a case of Big Brother versus Growing Younger Brother, though in this case one sides with the government. Meanwhile, phones:
That our cells know where we are each moment when we are connected to Wifi or GPS or cellular data and that companies or government agencies could theoretically track our every movement through that now-pervasive technology is worth contemplation. News item (USAToday, today):
"DENVER -- Computer security pioneer John McAfee pulls out his cell phone to stare at a notification on the screen.
"'It says something changed in my account, please press next,' McAfee says. 'I have the best (security) habits in the world and I cannot keep my phone secure.'
"McAfee, whose name became synonymous with antivirus protection, says he's no longer as worried about computer security. Now, he says, the danger comes from the camera and microphones we carry everywhere in our pockets, attached to our smartphones. It's a 'trivial' matter, he says, for a hacker to remotely and secretly turn on a phone's sensors." Translation: the spy -- Big Brother, or growing one -- may be in your pocket or purse.
Microsoft and Droid and AOL and many have long felt free (as an older brother, they know what is best) to insert updates into your phone or computer or even to turn it on or off, sometimes without proper notification. It enters our private space without permission. (Look at how malware and viruses and "robots" can access your system: A big government or corporation cannot?)
You are tracked in many ways, not just by security and red-light cameras. They know what ads to serve us.
All these companies can be forces for convenience and good but now have access to fantastic technology that can easily track every single person on the planet if every person is registered in various computer data banks, which so many now are. Health information? Banking?
When it comes to people, a billion -- or a trillion -- is nothing to the computer chips they now have. Google wants to even develop devices that would be inserted into human eyes to automatically adjust their lenses (no need even for glasses).
Other firms have spoken about wiring the body in such a way that we become computers (conductors and cyborgs).
They also have those cars that cruise the streets across America taking pictures of homes and logging exact addresses.
Amazon customers are similarly recognized and herded.
Purchases are all tracked meticulously by robotic systems.
Is it not appropriate to question it all -- and: why isn't it watched more closely by regulators?
Amazon wants total dominance, it seems, and is seeking to crush small businesses (including Catholic bookstores). The other day, its founder made a billion dollars on his stock in a single hour. He has ordered The Washington Post, a company he picked up for pocket change (including star reporter Bob Woodward), to dig into the life of a presidential candidate he opposes. He and his wife donated $2.5 to a referendum legalizing gay marriage.
Who controls key master internet servers? Notice this verb: control.
How might technology control the entire national electrical grid?
One might also ask: how many (or few) actually control the oil industry? The banking industry?
At left is a photo of Google chairman Eric Schmidt with a copy of Henry Kissinger's book, World Order.
This from Wikileaks: "In 2004, after taking over Keyhole, a mapping tech startup co-funded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the CIA, Google developed the technology into Google Maps, an enterprise version of which it has since shopped to the Pentagon and associated federal and state agencies on multimillion-dollar contracts. In 2008, Google helped launch an NGA spy satellite, the GeoEye-1, into space. Google shares the photographs from the satellite with the US military and intelligence communities. In 2010, NGA awarded Google a $27 million contract for "geospatial visualization services."
Brave new world indeed! Also, highly dangerous. That governments have been so slow to keep ahead or even keep up with the tech "curve" is worrisome. They are still struggling to halt hackers from their own highly classified websites in their most sensitive agencies -- although of course government entities such as the National Security Agency and DARPA (Department of Advanced Research) have tremendous capabilities of their own, capabilities of which we are not remotely aware. Big Brother -- or Big Tech?
The future arrives swiftly with wonders and perils.