Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Stray Thought

Both Bush and Putin have simultaneously been centralizing power and creating the basis for authoritarian, media-savvy pseudo-democratic states. Who guessed that Bush's putative vibrational understanding with Putin was on such a basic level?

The NSA telephone database shows the future difficulties for democracy in China and its continued fragility here. Even with database like that -- without speech recognition summaries of call content -- you can easily identify types of low-level subterfuge (patterns that are highly correlated with adultery) or even interesting gossip (a call that immediately leads to more calls and so on, throughout a social network, but excludes its center). The economic drain of using so many resources on surveilance helped bring the collapse of the Soviet Union -- warehouses of files, and hundreds of thousands of low-level bureaucrats to evaluate information, translated into a lower standard of living in contrast to the West. The NSA's database prototypes the future of electronic surveilance, with an executive spy simply able to generate a list of people to blackmail when he wants the last detail of information, without needing a huge army of worker-drones to collate and gather information.

But then, to keep returning to the Apocolypse, will the obstacles to secrecy in the future force everyone to be righteous? Will a massive totalitarian database of everyone's peccadillos increase the general level of virtue? I've heard that google searches got a bit tamer once it was learned that that every search was archived along with IP address in a database that could ultimately show up in divorce and custody proceedings, or even potential employment and insurance decisions.


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