Thought Police

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by Yard Dart, May 25, 2016.

  1. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    A little more than two months before his untimely death at the age of 46, George Orwell scribbled a final observation in his notebook: “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” The quote lives on today because, looking in the mirror as we age, most of us find a certain truth in the idea that each line and wrinkle comes, for better or worse, from experience.

    Orwell had a knack for observation that has kept much of his writing alive throughout the decades. As the late Christopher Hitchens, a fellow author of English descent, once noted: “There is scarcely a cliché uttered by a Western statesman or editor that does not derive in part from 1984 or Animal Farm.”

    And it makes sense that folks looking at the current global social and political environment through the lens of history since Orwell’s death in 1950 would cite the author’s work. He did, after all, outline eloquently the ways in which overt fascism is doomed for failure before history provided some of its most spectacular examples. Furthermore, Orwell told us that same fascism, hidden more cleverly by the dumbing of language and its use by elites as a tool for propaganda, could proliferate without casual observers—the proletariat, if you will— ever noticing.

    The author’s closing in Animal Farm provides such a warning. Comforted by lofty promises of well-being and security, the book closes with its characters unable to differentiate between their oppressors and their liberators.

    Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    And how about this excerpt from 1984, with its stern warnings of a government that would seek to prevent its demise by attempting to predict the future actions of its subordinates: “We understand the human much better than other humans understand each other.”

    Actually, I’ve misled you. The chilling and distinctly Orwellian utterance I’ve attributed to 1984 is actually a quote pulled from a recent article published by The Washington Post. It comes from a company that, like Orwell, believes everyone has the face he deserves. And like a feature of an Orwellian plot, the company also believes that some of us could be criminally prosecuted for the things our faces tell its computer algorithms.

    The company, an Israeli startup called Faceception, claims it can determine with 80 percent accuracy all manner of things about a person just by running facial features through its computer program.

    “Our personality is determined by our DNA and reflected in our face. It’s a kind of signal,” the company’s chief executive Shai Gilboa told The Post.

    According to the newspaper, the company claims “its technology also can be used to identify everything from great poker players to extroverts, pedophiles, geniuses and white collar-criminals.”

    A look at Faceception’s website reveals that it got its start analyzing facial features for commercial purposes. It boasts Sears and a handful of major digital advertising and talent agencies as clients.

    But the company now says it has at least one homeland security contract to help officials ferret out terrorists and other government threats based on facial features alone.

    It isn’t clear which government the company is contracting with at the moment. But we do know that the U.S. government has invested significantly in facial recognition technology over the years.

    The FBI has been compiling a massive biometric database since at least 1999, which includes “23 million front-facing photographs that can be used to identify suspects without human intervention.”

    And the massive photo database isn’t just made up convicted criminals’ mug shots. According to NextGov, the agency hangs on to “data from people fingerprinted for jobs, licenses, military or volunteer service, background checks, security clearances, and naturalization, among other government processes.”

    And the agency wants the records kept secret because if people begin demanding the government stop sifting through their biometric information, it could lose the ability to “establish patterns” that could lead it to criminals. Earlier this month, FBI officials proposed that the database should be made exempt from legislation requiring government agencies to share information they collect on individuals with those persons to allow for a fair chance to verify or correct information.

    Why? Because agency officials argue that it is “impossible to know in advance what information is accurate, relevant, timely and complete” for “authorized law enforcement purposes.”

    “With time, seemingly irrelevant or untimely information may acquire new significance when new details are brought to light,” the FBI said, adding that transparency would harm its abilities of “establishing patterns of activity.”

    In other words, the FBI would be a prime customer for Faceception’s Orwellian capabilities.

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg considering the government’s dragnet digital communications surveillance. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that your likeness is in some such database if you’ve ever used facial recognition software on social media, placed a picture of yourself online or even walked down a public street in a major metropolitan area

    So what’s the end result of all this? It’s difficult to know for sure. But because I began with a quote from Orwell, perhaps it would be fitting to end with one.

    This time (truly) an excerpt from 1984:

    [H]e began thinking of the things that would happen to him after the Thought Police took him away. It would not matter if they killed you at once. To be killed was what you expected. But before death (nobody spoke of such things, yet everybody knew of them) there was the routine of confession that had to be gone through: the grovelling on the floor and screaming for mercy, the crack of broken bones, the smashed teeth, and bloody clots of hair. Why did you have to endure it, since the end was always the same? Why was it not possible to cut a few days or weeks out of your life? Nobody ever escaped detection, and nobody ever failed to confess. When once you had succumbed to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date you would be dead. Why then did that horror, which altered nothing, have to lie embedded in future time?
    Just another day in Orwellian paradise - Personal Liberty®
    Dunerunner, GOG, kellory and 2 others like this.
  2. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Metadata. It is more you than you know.
    Dunerunner and Yard Dart like this.
  3. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    There is nothing new in the concept of thought crime, and nothing new in the concept of extracting convictions via confession, even if such confessions are assisted by a little torture, or threat of it. What is relatively innovative, is the digital technology that makes such processes so much easier to target the "thought criminal".

    I'm impressed by "Faceception". It seems to be a 21st Century, high tech version of phrenology. Phrenology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. John Grit

    John Grit Monkey

    From what I remember reading about Orwell he was a Socialist who became disillusioned over what was happening in Russia and wrote Animal Farm as a response. But he never really left his left leaning ideas behind. His writing as a reporter is said to be better than his fiction. What so many do not seem to understand is powerful government is always dangerous and harmful to liberty, no matter what ideology it is based on. You generally have more freedom in remote unincorporated areas than in big cities. Why? Less government. Fewer people too, for that matter. I can shoot on my property all day long. In town I would be arrested.

    Like everything, there is another side. People have been oppressed by other people in society because there was no governmental authority with the force to protect them. Mormons are a good example. They were murdered in mass and run out of towns and states. But then they too committed mass murder.
  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I dunno @chelloveck , both Faceception and Phrenology sound a lot like the tripe the Nazis use to preach about Jews and others concerning nose, cranium and etc. size and shape...
    kellory and chelloveck like this.
  6. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I'm as impressed as you are Rick.....but ours are likely to be minority reports ;) Minority Report (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  7. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Ohhhh! I liked that film! Don't fancy it turning into reality though...nightmarish. The good and the bad of technology...I wonder what the future holds for us. Where is that Psychic when you need one! :)
  1. svjoe
  2. DarkLight
  3. Yard Dart
  4. sec_monkey
  5. Garand69
  6. Katana Lee
  7. Yard Dart
  8. DarkLight
  9. Yard Dart
  10. Yard Dart
  11. CATO
  12. Yard Dart
  13. CATO
  14. Yard Dart
  15. Yard Dart
  16. CATO
  17. Yard Dart
  18. 10brokenpromises
  19. Yard Dart
  20. melbo
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary