• Chris Hanna

To Watch, or to Be Watched, That is the Question

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

© Deafilosophy – Chris Hanna

All over the country we are seeing a renaissance of weapons technology, surveillance equipment, and military trickle down economics (the only place I have actually seen that ridiculous term valid when applied).  We see it on the news every day: “New police tank complete with drone squadron delivered to town of 364 people!” Correspondingly, inside we feel a twinge of panic, at least I do.

There is an interesting situation developing as we see the proliferation of monitoring technology and the continuation of Moore’s law, for a little while longer as the silicon chip is still holding up to miniaturization demands, but that does not mean it will be easy to find the best social course of action.  The idea of drones, of eyes in the sky, is immediately Orwellian for anyone who has read 1984, but even the mention of that fine author and his masterworks, also including Animal Farm, will draw a blank look on the faces of today’s youth.

Yes I said today’s youth, there it is, my transitional moment into atheist codgerdom, where I will be in good company with well read individuals like my friend David Goza.  The point is, we are looking at a generation that increasingly looks to the moment for instant understanding, advice, and direction.  This massive shift in attention duration and historical learning will skew or bias the findings, ultimately I fear, to something akin to doublethink.

We have a security state forming that will trade safety for scrutiny, using technology that is currently still legal for everyone to use (relatively…).  The area where this becomes too offset for me is when only the state, military, or police have access to these advanced monitoring techniques and we, the people, are left on the precipice of a technology gap so large as to never be traversed entirely.

MQ-9 Afghanistan takeoff 1 Oct 07

We talk of an economic disparity often, but what of a technology disparity?  To me the one thing that will allow us to hold onto any sense of civility and democratic tendency would be to require the security forces, in all their forms, to be subjected to just as much if not more scrutiny.  I believe the American people have spoken on this as the stories of police brutality and foreign policy torture reports have been a mainstay in news media since the New York Strangling death of Eric Garner.

To end, I would like to remind people of the concept of a social contract and the zero sum game of power (yes there are reasons to believe that the zero sum game is obsolete but they are too slow moving for an argument of this scale).  When we give people in the military, police, and government representative and disciplinary power they do not get it without conditions.  The conditions are that we be allowed to monitor their use of such power with utter transparency, is necessary to maintain the ideals enshrined in the constitution.

For if no one is held accountable for power, justice and peace shall take a holiday from these lands, to be replaced with apathy, oppression, and ignorance.  Let’s make sure we point those mechanical eyes back towards those in power to remind them of the contract they signed.

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