Digital Tyranny in the West

The West is becoming a totalitarian society. Increasingly large numbers of the public favor socialism, which hands increasing power to a small elite. Support for the First and Second amendments are in decline in the USA. Traditional defenders of liberty and decentralization, such as libertarians, favor extreme centralization. They also support policies that would have pleased Stalin, as long as those policies are carried out by private companies. Google, a company at the center of the flow of information, is a quasi-Maoist state staffed by employees who would have fit right in during the Cultural Revolution, but since it is a private company, their violations of the American spirit are tolerated by many who would be up at arms if the government behaved 1/100th of 1 percent like Google. Totalitarian infrastructure is already in place, it is already being tested against fringe dissidents. Silicon Valley is racing ahead to complete it before they lose political control to a competent upstart populist. They vow to never repeat the mistake of Trump. And while there are hopeful signs of opposition on the right and left, it's quite possible they'll be prevented from doing anything by candidates who are in bed with BigTech.

Digital Maoism in America
China and the Untied States are moving towards a similar point, converging through different methods and from different starting points. China was poor and never had an open system. China is becoming wealthy and sometimes there are cracks of openness, but then central control takes over. China is becoming a rich country without political freedom and history is full of these examples.

The United States was a rich and free country in the past, but now it is becoming a poor and closed country. Universities are indoctrination centers, media are propaganda outlets, Big Tech companies remove dissident content in a manner too consistent with George Orwell's 1984.
I am not particularly bothered by China's social credit system because it is a one-state communist country. I don't agree with that system, but a social credit system allows for a more complete implementation of the CCP's ideology, it extends their control over the country. Social credit makes the negative aspects of China's system worse, but if it is successful, it is mainly hardening their already extensive control over social, political and economic life.

In America, a social credit system is the opposite of the American ideal. Yet for all the focus on China's social creditm, far fewer care that the United States is developing the same system. For some, it is because China bad. Anything China does is bad because it is authoritarian. If the U.S. does the same exact thing, it is good because America is free. If the Chinese government takes a person's house, this is evidence of China's disrespect for property, human rights and its totalitarian impulse. If the United States government takes a person's house, this is legal and for the public good. Some libertarians will get worked up about civil asset forfeiture, but when it comes to similar behavior by Internet giants, the "free market" camp does nothing about it.

For myself, I do favor building alternative companies to replace Big Tech, but I also support any effort to have these companies completely destroyed. I do not favor breaking them up. Fine them out of existence and sell their used office equipment and servers on eBay. They are to the USA what the CCP is to China. Luckily, a bipartisan effort to stop Big Tech is underway. Hopefully, it will be successful.

The Bipartisan Anti-BigTech Push Reveals Tech is Already Doomed
Negative social mood is ushering in negative views of technology. Instead of ushering in utopia, technology and technology companies will enslave the world to racist/SJW/CCP AI, take everyone's jobs and destroy the world. The shift in sentiment accompanied the ever sinking social mood. Attention from politicians also tells us the time to short technology is at hand. The last major tech anti-trust case came as the market was peaking and wasn't concluded until the bear market was underway.

...These companies have more power than Microsoft in the 1990s and they've abused it in ways that go far beyond Microsoft keeping competing browsers off new PCs. They've violated free speech rights and data privacy laws. They've created Orwellian systems to control thought and speech that mirror China's extensive censorship system. Amazon in particular has taken advantage of extremely outdated legal theories of monopoly and anti-trust. It used to be that a grocery store and a car dealer had little in common. A conglomerate with control of both couldn't transfer monopoly power from one to the other. In the Information Age, everything is linked. Amazon will wipe out pharmacies and groceries soon if something isn't done.
A generalized opposition to technology is also building as social mood turns negative: Socionomics Alert: Technology Makes Our Lives Much Worse. Although I didn't discuss it in that post, opposition to 5G is building based on health concerns.

As for the social credit system, I've written about it before: Framework for Social Credit System Already Exists in USA
There's no practical difference between China's "once untrustworthy, always restricted" system run by the government, and a U.S. version of "once right-wing, always restricted" run by private companies in conjunction with political groups like the SPLC. (In some ways the private system is more insidious in the West because many people think, "It's a private company, they can do what they want." If the Trump or Obama administration announced a social credit system, it would be soundly rejected by a vast majority of Americans.) The main difference in the United States is that people can build alternative companies and systems. The rise of cryptocurrencies accelerated in the wake of PayPal's moves because it became clear that even payment companies could become political weapons.

More broadly, political fracturing and "secession" are already happening in America, but it's taking place first in the economic sphere. As social mood trends negative there will be increased conflict, not less. Even though it won't be by the hand of government (yet), there will be increasing levels of censorship and authoritarian controls placed on users by private companies. This will come in two forms. One will be a "fair" censorship system that targets behavior. It might stray into some actual censorship or merely try to deal with bad behavior caused by rising negative mood. Amazon is actually a good example of the latter with their targeting of fake book reviews. The other will be "unfair" censorship that relies on political advocacy group definitions of "hate speech" or internal systems mostly likely dominated by left-of-center people in Silicon Valley. Authoritarians drift into whatever system allows them social control. Now that systems targeting user behavior exist, any company without strict policies on how they are used will eventually be subverted by political ideologies with penchant for thought control.
Now the mainstream is finally catching on. Fast Company has piece out on Silicon Valley's insidious social credit system today: Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system
Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.
Insurance companies can use the information:

The New York State Department of Financial Services announced earlier this year that life insurance companies can base premiums on what they find in your social media posts. That Instagram pic showing you teasing a grizzly bear at Yellowstone with a martini in one hand, a bucket of cheese fries in the other, and a cigarette in your mouth, could cost you. On the other hand, a Facebook post showing you doing yoga might save you money. (Insurance companies have to demonstrate that social media evidence points to risk, and not be based on discrimination of any kind—they can’t use social posts to alter premiums based on race or disability, for example.)

The use of social media is an extension of the lifestyle questions typically asked when applying for life insurance, such as questions about whether you engage in rock climbing or other adventure sports. Saying “no,” but then posting pictures of yourself free-soloing El Capitan, could count as a “yes.”
A company called PatronScan sells three products—kiosk, desktop, and handheld systems—designed to help bar and restaurant owners manage customers. PatronScan is a subsidiary of the Canadian software company Servall Biometrics, and its products are now on sale in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

PatronScan helps spot fake IDs—and troublemakers. When customers arrive at a PatronScan-using bar, their ID is scanned. The company maintains a list of objectionable customers designed to protect venues from people previously removed for “fighting, sexual assault, drugs, theft, and other bad behavior,” according to its website. A “public” list is shared among all PatronScan customers. So someone who’s banned by one bar in the U.S. is potentially banned by all the bars in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada that use the PatronScan system for up to a year. (PatronScan Australia keeps a separate system.)
Uber, Airbnb and others have similar systems. They have already expanded the list to include racists and white supremacists. Now, consider that extreme left-wing people, the type who work for these companies, believe President Trump and everyone who voted for him are racists and white supremacists (regardless of the race of the voter). And they've already been abusing their powers within these companies to deplatform used from YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Paypal and payment processors have already gone beyond targeting "hate" to banning pro-family groups.

Donation Processing Company Cancels Christian Group’s Service Because SPLC Labeled It a “Hate Group”
The Ruth Institute, whose primary focus is family breakdown, and its impact on children, informed LifeNews today about the discrimination. Officials indicated Ruth Institute’s on-line donation processor cut them off from further funding for allegedly promoting “hate, violence, harassment or abuse.”

The Ruth Institute learned late Thursday that Vanco Payment Solutuons, their on-line donation processing service, was cancelling their service immediately.
All of the pieces are in place. All of them. Systems integration and a will to use it is all that's needed. Silicon Valley may or may not overreach, thus far they've stuck to targeting the fringes, yet they've drawn President Trump's ire. Since the United States is experiencing an acceleration Cultural Revolution of its own though, it's only a matter of when the ratchet turns and something seemingly innocuous today, or a political view held by even non-extremist left-wingers, becomes the new "hate" idea that must be expunged by any digital means necessary. Barring an effort to stop this system now by salting the Earth beneath BigTech's feet, we'll have to wait and see what happens when they try to go big.

Other coverage of the topic on this blog

Social Credit Systems Coming to the West

Turn in Social Mood: Internet is Totalitarian Tool, Americans Itching for Trade War

This next one is an extremely important topic because many people who will balk at destroying a person's life (getting them fired, banning them from spending money online) may not have a problem with charging them higher prices and fees. Effectively, Silicon Valley could implement a private tax system based on your personal beliefs: Non-Anonymous Digital Cash Will Usher in the Age of Extreme Price Discrimination

Huxley Was Right: Totalitarianism is Sweet

If nothing else, watch the video in this post: Universal Basic Income is the Bribe For You To Accept Totalitarian Control

Finally, if things head in a negative direction, not only will alternative companies be needed, but full encryption of online activity. If you cannot hide all of your economic activity, you will have to conform to whatever ideology Silicon Valley promotes or risk losing your job, your property and maybe eventually, your life. Banning encryption is the "last mile" that allows for complete totalitarian control over information. Opposition to encryption is building, such as the government saying cryptocurrency is a tool for criminals, tax cheats, etc. The government opposed Facebook's Libra project at the outset, but I expect Facebook will eventually sell it as having all the totalitarian features that many in Washington would love to have. And since the government could outsource digital money to Facebook, it could avoid charges of totalitarian control, thus getting libertarians and other supposed defenders of liberty on board.

No comments:

Post a Comment