THE “SCIENCE” OF SURVEILLANCE
Scientism demands comprehensive data in order to further its fundamental premise of furthering “progress.”
This demand respects no boundary of human privacy developed via social, political or philosophical history or thought.
Saving the world from “climate change,” neutralizing pandemics, reducing financial “crimes” and money laundering, fighting against the “disinformation” threats of enemies, increasing equity, ensuring food security and “domestic tranquility”—every issue has the same answer.
That answer is comprehensive surveillance, data gathering, and intervention to control and induce modifications in social and economic activities and behavior according to the prescriptions and designs of technocratic experts.
This control is justified by authorities via systematic propaganda concerning crises that will only worsen if societies and individuals resist the surveillance and control.
Any measure of freedom, autonomy and privacy for individuals in societies is cast as a dangerous negative, given a fragile world where every activity is interconnected, and thus no individual action can be permitted to escape accounting.
The result is the current transformation of every society on earth, whether nominally “democratic”, “communist”, “socialist” into defacto technocratic totalitarian states.
If the United States and Europe are coming to more and more closely resemble the social credit surveillance society of China, it’s not because they are becoming more Communist, so much as they are eroding the historic bounds in their own societies that kept science from trespassing on other goods considered important to human dignity and happiness.
In the west, those rights were developed over a long history, from Judaic law, Greek philosophy and political frameworks, Roman legal jurisprudence, Christian affirmation of God’s love and valuing of every individual, the Magna Carta in England limiting the rights of the King, the establishment of modern representative parliaments, to the advent of modern societies, featuring divisions and balances of public and private, and social and individual rights and powers.
The Technocratic Ascendancy: An Intolerable Order
Russell Kirk described the Western evolution of societies which obtained reasonable compromises and balances between rights of individuals and limits necessary to overall good functioning of societies, as a “tolerable order.”
Kirk viewed this as happening through a course of historic development, and not primarily from any comprehensive abstract intervention or design.
Other political and economic philosophers, whether Adam Smith or Thomas Sowell, have noted how societies operating via “ground-up” decision making and relative autonomy of countless individuals and localities, constituted a “mass intelligence” that could never be matched by a relatively small group of rulers or technocrats.
Smith referred to it in economic terms as a “free market,”—not capitalism, a term coined by Karl Marx to cast the system as a construct inferior to his proposed alternative.
But unlike Marxism, the Market did not come from the mind of any particular person. It simply was a descriptive term for an evolved phenomen of countless actors engaging and bargaining over prices of products, labor and hiring, etc.
The ability of people to “vote with their feet” and relocate to regions and localities that they deemed more suitable to their own personal ambitions for success, made easier by advances in transportation and travel, created a more or less organic modern system of social and economic competition.
In laying out a Constitutional republic, the American founders weren’t creating a novel system from their abstract theories. They were codifying and preserving elements of what had developed and continuing to develop among the American colonies.
If America is still functioning at all, it is largely because its citizens still have the right to relocate, if they judge their prospects would be improved by doing so.
On a global level, a trend identified by Gerald Celente, “Self-Sufficiency,” has accelerated as a result of the fracturing and failure of what had been a modern movement toward tight global economic integration.
Competing powers are racing to “de-globalize,” or move and re-establish (especially strategic) production closer to home.
While de-globalization has been occurring in the face of growing international conflicts, it has at least stalled a fundamentally anti-democratic concentration of power into more remote globalist “consensus” and neo-government.
But that doesn’t mean internal centralization within major powers, propelled by “big data” and advances in AI driven analytics, isn’t accelerating.
Big Data And Total Surveillance: The Modern Technocratic Answer to Dispersed Knowledge And Decision Making
In Stalinist Russia, successive attempts to implement a “control” based economy, marked by “five year plans” where small groups of technocrats determined what matters of production and labor organization, could never match the output of relatively freer western markets.
No amount of propaganda could hide the shortages from Soviet citizens, or keep them completely in the dark concerning the relative prosperity and freedom of Western countries.
What distinguished the two systems was that western countries tapped into the superior meta intelligence of relatively free human interaction.
These interactions, though not comprehensible or definable as any overall program or intention, nonetheless produced better results in determining production and allocation of goods and services, and evolving regulatory frameworks.
Though Thomas Sowell didn’t especially like “Markets” as a term to describe the difference between command and control marxist economies, and western economies, he nonetheless outlined the crucial differences:
Both the friends and foes of economic decision-making processes refer to “the market” as if it were an institution parallel with, and alternative to, the government as an institution. The government is indeed an institution, but “the market” is nothing more than an option for each individual to choose among numerous existing institutions, or to fashion new arrangements suited to his own situation and tastes…
…Any comparison of market processes and government processes for making a particular set of decisions is a comparison between given institutions, prescribed in advance, and an option to select or create institutions ad hoc. There are of course particular institutions existing in a market as of a given time. But there can be no definitive comparison of market institutions–such as the corporation–and a governmental institution, such as a federal bureaucracy. The corporation may be the predominant way of doing certain things during a particular era, but it will never be the only market mechanism even during that given era, and certainly not for all eras. Partnerships, cooperatives, episodic individual transactions, and long-run contractual agreements all exist as alternatives. The advantages of market institutions over government institutions are not so much in their particular characteristics as institutions but in the fact that people can usually make a better choice out of numerous options than by following a single prescribed process.
From “Knowledge and Decisions,” Thomas Sowell (1980)
The inability to control markets without substantially deforming the meta intelligence that renders them relatively efficient, has long acted as a check on government authoritarianism.
But new technologies are reviving “command and control” visions of societies.
Technocrats have asserted that via new capabilities to more comprehensively monitor, analyze and model, societies can now be designed to achieve desired outcomes of authorities.
Comprehensive surveillance and data collection are a core necessity of this quickly metastasizing 21st century command and control model.
It is evidenced in every sector, and in many specific initiatives, including:
- The push for CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies)
- The rise of “Smart Cities”
- The proliferation of Gene Engineering and Heritable Gene Editing (HGE)
- The Implementation of “Zero Carbon” and a “Green” transformation of economies
- The use of “digital twinning” and modeling of commercial and social activities and processes
- Surveillance and censorship of speech and political activity
- The development and implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to digest and analyze enormous data sets, and increasingly, to replace human workers
The new paradigm is accelerating a massive concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a relative few, via a government-corporate model.
Though as totalitarian in its operation as any fascist or Marxist regime, the core premise of this modern technocracy is Scientism: the application of science into every sphere and endeavor, with its requirements observing and gathering data about virtually everything, in order to design and control phenomena to further “progress.”
Every human activity has become open to monitoring, data scraping, and leveraging to design and impose improvements, and extract “benefits.”
Perhaps that’s why tech company Spiceworks declared “Why 2023 Will Be The Year of Data Scientists.”
Their article forecast that in every field, the need for data scientists who could design systems to more comprehensively gather, analyze and leverage the power of data would outstrip any other occupation:
“As we rely more on data and technology and new industries emerging, the value and demand for data science-related roles will increase. Data science hiring is poised to dominate over the next year as candidates with the skills will be entering a favorable, skills-driven market and is one of the most industry-agnostic pools of talent as their expertise is needed across industries like pharma, finance, and supply chain. This will open more opportunities for prospective candidates and earn them potentially higher offer packages.”
Though the voracious appetite for subjecting every human endeavor and activity to data collection often comes with nostrums concerning preservation of “data privacy,” in reality, wherever surveillance and data gathering exists, privacy ceases to exist.
Many times explicit backdoors that can trace and identify individuals are required to be built into systems.
And in cases where there is arguable anonymization of personal data collected, there are technological means of pairing that data back to individuals.
The Trends Journal has detailed some of the specific ways this pairing can and has been done by governments and tech companies. (See “GOOGLE AND APPLE RECORD EVERY STEP YOU TAKE, AND EVERY SEARCH YOU MAKE—AND HOW MUCH OF THAT IS AT THE FINGERTIPS OF THE GOVERNMENT?” 20 Dec 2022, “WRAY SUDDENLY CONFUSED BY COMMON DIGITAL TRACKING TACTIC USED BY FBI” 22 Nov 2022 and “COVID ZEALOTS TAKE A U-TURN ON BIG TECH TRACKING” 28 Jun 2022.)
Forbes, meanwhile, outlined a “Top Five Data Science Trends That Made An Impact In 2022” (11 Nov 2022).
In addition to mentioning the increasing demand for data scientists, the article noted how collection of data is being leveraged together with machine learning and AI to perform “predictive analytics.”
Many companies already have vast databases, log files, photographs, and videos. And they are focused on building surveillance and data gathering into every technology they create.
More advanced neural net deep-learning AI and related technologies can learn off huge structured and unstructured data sets, to discern patterns and unlock “predictions” and avenues for engineering desired outcomes.
According to Forbes:
“Predictive analytics is at the forefront of many industries, including banking, healthcare, manufacturing, marketing, sales, e-commerce and retail. Predictive analytics allows executives to anticipate challenges and opportunities before they arise to make smart business decisions.”
Given the enormous power that emerging and maturing technologies can confer to authorities and increasingly allied tech companies, concerned advocates of privacy and freedom will have to do more to make the case for why the fruits of Scientism are decimating the social contract, and proving poisonous for widespread human happiness and dignity.