Big Tech Too Big

BY TARQUIN SUTHERLAND

“I am not a number, I am a free man!”

So began the seminal 60s TV series, The Prisoner. Upon recently revisiting this evermore prescient work by the sorely missed Patrick McGoohan, I was struck by the thought; ‘I wonder what he witnessed?’, as it is chock full of the echoes of future-shock.

“Be seeing you” the characters chirpily say to one another whilst offering up a salute that bears a spooky resemblance to the so-called Illuminati sign of holding an ‘A OK’ sign to a single eye. One can take a taxi to anywhere as long as it is in The Village – a service which could be Uber who now offer their drivers the ability to rank their passengers. It’s not too hard to guess what might happen if your score drops too far below the bar set by faceless autocrats in some office somewhere. In the Village, everyone is subject to permanent surveillance at all times, and as we move further into our collective future-shock, parallels with China’s Social Credit System Sesame are not only striking, they are terrifyingly accurate.

We all live in The Village now.

It would appear that Jack over at Twitter could be ‘No.2’ – for the time being at least – and not even his own faceless autocrats at the creepily entitled ‘Trust and Safety Council’ are happy with him, as a recently leaked document to the publication Wired appears to suggest.

“Twitter’s approach has been in the past innovative and very effective and the Twitter health metrics proposals announced at the summits was an example of this.”

It just gets more disquieting by the second, doesn’t it? Are we to infer that Twitter are now branching out into healthcare? Or, even more worryingly, mental health care? I for one most certainly do not want the people at Twitter making judgement calls with regards citizens’ mental health.

The attacks on freedom of speech and diversity of thought come thick and fast these days around the world. Even those tiresome hacks at the Guardian appear worried – if that is not a canary dropping from its perch, I don’t know what is!

Apple co-founder and nerdish demi-god Steve Wozniak recently made a public appearance in an interview for Bloomberg in which he called for the big tech companies to be broken up as they have, in his words:

“…gotten too powerful a force in our life and it’s taking our choices away…”

It’s not just Apple that are facing a host of antitrust issues, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai is in hot water with his own employees, who just happen to be raging Social Justice Warriors. They are unhappy with the fact that recently published workplace demographics reveal that 82% of Google’s technical staff are male. Oh dear… that doesn’t look good, does it? So as the tail continues to furiously wag the dog and the notion that Google employees enjoy a ‘free and open’ work space is shown up for the sheer mockery that it is, former Google employee James Damore’s statement that having anything approaching a right wing viewpoint within the organisation is like “being gay in the 1950’s” should send the proverbial shivers down your spine.

Everywhere we look now, there are security cameras watching our every move – well, unless you are on suicide watch in New York City jail, that is. Western tech companies appear to be all too keen on aping China as more and more companies jump on the Big Data bandwagon to pass judgement on the fitness of your intrinsic humanity. Along with Uber, Airbnb also allow users to score those that have made use of their service and we can only expect this trend to continue and deepen. It matters not as to whether you happen to use these services, pretty soon someone without a face shall be watching you and scoring your behaviour… which is only a short hop, skip and jump from judging your thinking.

In The Prisoner, behavioural transgressions were almost immediately punished and judgement meted out by large white bubbles which would descend upon the miscreant and suffocate them to death. The allegory becomes frighteningly more prescient by the day. One can only imagine what McGoohan might have come across, either in his personal or professional life, to prompt such a work.

Wozniak went further stating that he didn’t approve of the Big Tech firms monitoring private conversations and took aim at both Alexa and Siri for listening in on real time conversations.

If we are to ignore the fact that it appears that Google’s CEO has been taken hostage by the rampant Neo-Marxists within his own organisation (he certainly isn’t No.2!), and we level up, we find that the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt acted as an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s shambolic campaign to become President back in 2016. It comes as no surprise that 90% of all political donations made by Google employees at the time went to the Democrats.

The fight for the principle of Freedom of Speech has never been more front and centre, and the pushback becomes ever stauncher. PayPal co-founder, and vocal Trump supporter, the openly gay conservative Peter Thiel stated at a conference last year that Silicon Valley had become a ‘One Party State’, and Canadian academic superstar Jordan Peterson is all set to launch his own platform, Thinkspot. So-called alt-tech crypto-sites Minds and Gab go from strength to strength whilst facing a veritable tsunami of opposition from the SJWs that now appear to hope to infect each and every business across the entire English speaking world.

I actually don’t much fancy the SJW’s chances of winning this most monumental of battles. By the day more and more people are waking up to the fact that they are increasingly surveilled without prior knowledge or consent and that they are acting out Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote in that they are sacrificing their liberty for an extremely specious form of safety. As any fool should know by now, those that do so deserve neither.

In The Prisoner, we never get to find out just who is No.1. The problem we have sixty years on is that this isn’t a TV show we are all of us now living through. It could be an unravelling nightmare unless something is done to rein in big tech – if the Caligulas of Silicon Valley are allowed to augment their powers further without being broken up.

Be seeing you.

For those of you that are interested, the full series of The Prisoner is available to view in gloriously remastered HD at http://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/the-prisoner