The benefits of a total surveillance state – Stuart Armstrong – Aeon

2 Oct

Hmmmm…this article almost makes a surveillance state seem tolerable. Read it and figure out what the author got wrong. Like the assumption that the people who conduct the surveillance will be benign. This is the kind of absolute power that corrupts absolutely.

The hidden assumption is that the world can be controlled from the top. It can’t. Ever. Or only at the  cost of ultimately self-defeating escalating surveillance.

If all goes well, there might be fewer laws for the police to enforce. Most countries currently have an excess of laws, criminalising all sorts of behaviour. This is only tolerated because of selective enforcement; the laws are enforced very rarely, or only against marginalised groups. But if everyone was suddenly subject to enforcement, there would have to be a mass legal repeal. When spliffs on private yachts are punished as severely as spliffs in the ghetto, you can expect the marijuana legalisation movement to gather steam. When it becomes glaringly obvious that most people simply can’t follow all the rules they’re supposed to, these rules will have to be reformed. In the end, there is a chance that mass surveillance could result in more personal freedom, not less.

via The benefits of a total surveillance state – Stuart Armstrong – Aeon.


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