The Big Good Old Brother

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Benjamin Franklin, 1755

I was a supporter of this view until about 10 years ago. The world changed a lot since 1755, and also since I embraced this view. At one point I had to reconsider what I believe in.
Today, albeit with bitter awareness of the risks this imports, I think there’s no real alternative to accepting technocontrol in our lives. Although not in the current form.

One thing at a time… let me first explain my view with an old hyperbolic example I have been using for years…

100 years ago took craftsmanship and many hours of work to create a gun. 10 years ago you could buy many for a relatively cheap price in a shop or on the black market. Today you can 3d print as many as you like at home, no one even needs to know.

Similarly: 70 years ago we were able to build an atomic bomb employing the best minds in the planet and huge capitals. There’s little to say that in 70 years time everyone won’t be able to compost rubbish and make nuclear energy out of it*, and hence an atomic bomb.

The only way to protect us, alas, seems to be the good old big brother.

*yes, I took the example from Back to the Future 🙂

Recently, this news caught my attention, where with a couple of drones and ill willed people, took an airport down almost entirely for days.

So -away from the hyperboles- today we know that a handful of persons with a few thousand €$ can disrupt an airport for days. A pretty low level self driving AI, would make it possible to further reduce the number of people… so 20/40 organised people could bring down the air traffic to a continent, via its 20 largest airports. Do that for a couple of weeks, and global economy starts feeling it.

If this is not enough to convince you, nothing will.

However, mr Benjamin Franklin did have a point, so how do we translate his wisdom into our century?

The current idea of a Big Brother is something that cuts down into our individual freedom and privacy, but it doesn’t work in a way that seem commensurate with the relevance of the event, we could actually argue that it is inversely proportional to it.

If we were to follow an intellectually honest approach to an open society, we should admit that the larger amounts of money, public roles and the responsibilities involved, the biggest the transparency required in order to secure justice and social security on a large scale.

Interestingly, blockchain is a very interesting tool for large scale accountability and trackability of our actions… but that’s a topic for another post!

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