Harry

Especially For Young Women

 
   

14/10/02

Information is the Key

USA Police in Washington admit that they have no new leads in the hunt for the sniper who has killed eight people.

Let's hope that this sniper doesn't turn out to be an ardent member of any men's group, eh?

This is a man with a mission. And he doesn't care too much about what eventually will happen to him. This man will go on killing until he is caught!

He is driving a big van apparently.

And, you know, if there was 100% CCTV coverage of the entire area he would have been caught very quickly indeed. 

The police could have simply followed the van!

Ah yes. Information.

Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, there will be 100% world coverage by CCTV. And, maybe, everyone will carry ID cards. And, perhaps, people could be fitted with internal transmitters to show where they are at all times. And their National ID numbers could be transmitted to a receiver and thence to a computer which could be used to access huge databases about them; name, address, medical history, educational history, past employment, criminal records, shopping habits. Nearly everything. Perhaps every financial transaction that they have ever made!

Hmm.

Just think about it.

The crime figures would virtually collapse. The streets would be safe. The police wouldn't even need to stop you in the car! They would know who you are just by pressing some buttons on their dashboard. 

That means no aggravation for you!

Hurrah!

No more queuing for hours at the airports to have your baggage checked for terrorist intent.

Hurrah!

As you pass by the sensors, the security staff will see your details on their screen. 

Ah yes. That's Mr Bundy who has lived at Carport Road for 20 years. He's got three children and no convictions. And he's never been to the Middle East!

Not, of course, that the security staff would ever need to look at these things. The security software would, perhaps, only sound an alert if details A, B, C and D were all true.

You have an accident or you are ill. They whisk you off to the hospital. A few mouse clicks and your whole medical history comes up. The doctor takes a blood sample and types in your current symptoms. The computer checks back through the files. Aha! The diagnosis and the treatment possibilities fly up on to the screen. The telephone number of your next of kin appears. The nearest donor's address is flashed up if you need a transplant. And so on and on it goes. 

No time wasted!

No resources wasted!

As I type this, I hear that there has been a large explosion in Indonesia. More terrorism, it seems.

And - as I have now been saying for many months - terrorism is not going to stop!.

A sniper here. A bomb there. A virus in the post. A chemical in the water supply

It is not going to stop!

And people need to understand this.

We are living in dangerous times.

And the solution to some of our most serious problems lies in ploughing huge resources into the development of information technologies; CCTV, face scanning, ID cards, transmitter/location devices, financial databases - the lot.

If we could direct resources into technologies such as these our lives would improve enormously. 

Access to information of all kinds by all sorts of people will end up benefiting the whole of the planet to a HUGE degree. It would certainly herald a revolution as great as the scientific one of the last century.

The questionable financial schemes at Enron and other large corporations would not have happened if more information about these activities had reached a wider audience sooner. The signs of an impending disaster would have been spotted on the horizon and the outcomes would have been far less serious.

The stock market would not have crashed.

Access to more information would have allowed the west to keep a closer eye on Saddam Hussein.

9/11 would never have happened.

Well, you get the picture.

Access to more information could have prevented some of the worst tragedies of recent months - tragedies which are going to have a large negative impact on all of our lives for a good many years into the future.

Access to more information can not only solve problems, it can prevent those problems from arising in the first place.

In fact, most of the worst crimes that are frequently committed would just evaporate into thin air. People would get caught! And, for example, young criminals could be targeted well before they grew up to be more dangerous.

With the absolutely monumental amount of money that could be saved by providing the appropriate authorities with computerised access to all the information that they needed, we could easily afford to spend a very large sum indeed in order to ensure that there were put in place very effective measures to protect people from any abuses of the power that this might bring about.

And it would be relatively easy to do this.

The policeman down the road keeps hassling you just because you're black? Just show the jury the computer listing of just how many times the GPS satellite has put you both in exactly the same locations, and at what times you ended up in hospital with a bleeding nose. And then show the jury his arrest records to demonstrate that this policeman rarely arrests whites.

He is a racist. Case proved.

Always remember that access to information will mostly disempower the powerful!

And it will also disempower the bad!

"Who raped that woman at the corner of Lewis Street on 4/5/2002 at 3.45pm?"

"Why, it must have been Big Bad Joe Bob. The satellite positioning thingy places him as the only person other than the victim at the scene of the crime!"

"And who put that stolen credit card into the automatic cash machine last Wednesday at 2.58?"

"Why, it must have been Malicious Mary Lou!"

Just think of how the world could be transformed.

Also, think about this.

Where would you rather that the human race poured its energies and resources? Into guns? The police? The military? Prisons?

Or into technologies that will completely revolutionise the entire planet?

Dishonesty. Fraud. Deception. Theft. Violence. War.

We could actually begin to eradicate all of these things because the culprits would be caught! And potential culprits could be monitored (and led down other pathways) well before they got to do any damage worth worrying about.

Can you imagine how much better the world would feel if you could step out into the street at night knowing that you were completely safe from any hostile actions from passing strangers?

... if you could know that the chap who is fixing your roof has a long record - accessible online - of doing a good job and at a reasonable price and who is not an axe-murderer?

... if you could know that the surgeon who is doing your operation has a performance history that is accurately catalogued and that is regularly monitored by well-qualified medical inspectors and computers?

... if you could know that your house will not be burgled and that your family is safe even if you leave all the doors open?

... if you could know that the man whom you have just met and whom you are about to sleep with has not got AIDS?

... if you could trust everyone because everyone was trustworthy?

Such things would be HUGELY beneficial for all of us.

And look at how DNA technology is catching murderers from 20 to 30 years ago. And notice how it has managed to exonerate hundreds of individuals from crimes that they never committed.

DNA is information. 

It disempowers the bad, and it empowers the innocent.

Imagine that by the year 2020, everyone is hooked up to a 'central' bank of information and that they can download a wad of 'appropriate' information about whomsoever they like. 

You're sitting on the train and you ask your little hand-held device, "Who is this person sitting next to me?"

And, by pinpointing your location, it tells you!

It tells you who he is. It lets you see his bank account. It gives you his medical history. In fact, it tells you just about everything about him.

What would it matter?

What has he got to fear from you?

After all, you are being monitored, and have been 'catalogued', just as much as him!

What harmful mischief could you possibly get up to without being caught?

The increasing free flow of information is nothing to be feared. It will empower ordinary people. It will also disempower the more powerful, and it will disempower the 'bad'!

Libertarians and civil liberties groups should not be trying to stop the appropriate authorities from harnessing information. Their efforts should be directed at protecting people from the abuse of the use of the information that is collected.

This can easily be done by guaranteeing that the ordinary citizen has The Three Great Freedoms 

These are the things that libertarians and those concerned with civil liberties should be fighting for. And they should be fighting for them like tigers. 

The real enemy is the hiding of information, the keeping of it secret, and the distortion or falsification of it.

Valid information is truth.

valid information = truth

They are one and the same thing.

Indeed, our 'protectors' are increasingly going to be computer people and wordsmiths rather than those who carry guns. And I am still quite surprised - to say the least - that most libertarian activists and writers seem not yet to have cottoned on to the fact that the spread of information will empower them. 

And it will also disempower the very people whom they fear the most!

Further, they are not gaining much support from the public for their current protests against the desires of governments to access more information about people. 

Most people simply say, "We'll, if you've got nothing to hide, then what have you got to fear from the government finding out?"

Well, of course, this answer does demonstrate some naivety, because there is definitely very much to fear from governments abusing their powers!

But the point here is that the public does not, in general, really fear governmental intrusion - up to a point. In other words: The argument that the government should butt-out is not a vote-winner for civil liberties activists.

How much better it would be, therefore, if they would not oppose their governments' desires to access information but, instead, simply kept on demanding that there are put in place sufficient protections against any abuses of power. 

And this would be a vote winner!

The new communications technologies are going to give us the means to enhance the well-being of the entire planet. The world could be unimaginably different and immeasurably better even in a few years time if we direct a great deal of effort into enabling people to access information that is relevant and appropriate to what they need to know.

Further, the benefits of doing this are just so enormous and the cost savings so huge that it is not going to be stopped. 

And don't libertarians and civil liberties activists want to pay fewer taxes and see smaller government?

For example, would it not be better to be able to reduce the size of the police force because fewer officers are needed to monitor the streets and the airports? 

Would it not be better if the Revenue services didn't need to hassle so many people because more valid information was at their fingertips?

And can you just imagine what benefits the technical developments, products and skills that arise from following the 'informational' pathway will bring to the fields of medicine, science, technology and business?

Surely, the quicker that we get there, the better?

And activists who are trying to delay this process are not doing the people a great service.

Information, Yes.

Abuse of power arising from it, No.

These are the phrases that should dominate all our thoughts when it comes to thinking about dealing with any problems that access to information might bring.

Spreading information will certainly bring about problems, but if handled carefully and responsibly, these problems will be utterly trivial in comparison to the huge benefits that will be gained, and they can be fairly easily dealt with.

And, perhaps, of some further interest is the fact that even when it comes to the more mundane levels of human behaviour, surely lying and dishonesty are some of the very worst sins - and probably some of the stupidest, since they almost invariably lead to places where most people would prefer not to go.

For example, just imagine how much more pleasant the whole world would be - and how much more advanced it would be - if people never told lies. 

But, of course, the previous paragraph is just another way of pointing out how huge would be the benefits of a human system wherein true and valid information was always available.

After all, what is lying?

Well, it's the spreading of false information!

So, we're back to the topic of information again.

It's the same topic. It's the same plot. It's the same story.

Information! It is the key. 

And the route to our possible salvation clearly has a great deal to do with it!

23/09/02

UK Paedophiles should be tracked by satellite on their release from jail to ensure they stay away from schools, Tories said yesterday.

And if they tagged all the children in the country, as per my suggestion of a few weeks ago, an alarm could go off at the nearest police station whenever a paedophile spent more than 30 seconds less than a metre from a child who wasn't related to him in some way!

Well, something like that.

Sounds horrendous doesn't it?

But not to me.

And, right now, I can't be bothered to explain why.

But, for one thing, if paedophiles knew that within minutes of accosting a child they would be caught, then they would less likely do it!

The world for children would be a safer place, and fewer paedophiles would end up in prison!

Money saved.

Hurrah!

Careers saved.

Hurrah!

Children saved.

Hurrah!

Information, you see.

In fact, our kids today not only need protection, they are actually responsible for most of the crime and mayhem out there, Their whereabouts should be monitored 24/7 to the nearest centimetre and to the nearest nanosecond by satellite.

Yes, this might cause a few problems, but it will solve many!

Besides which, you will soon hear stories in the tabloid press about how little Amy was approached by a stranger but, thanks to her mother's foresight in having her fitted with a GPS transmitter, her father managed to save the day.

And then the demand for transmitters will rise.

Businesses will then step in, and start advertising their products with lurid and emotional advertisements. And then, before long, not fitting a transmitter to your children will be seen as evidence of a lack of love.

And then, a child will be killed. And it will take ages to find the killer. And it will be said that if all paedophiles and children had been tagged, this killing would never have happened.

And then, before long, governments will make laws to make it an act of negligence not to have your children fitted with these devices.

Well, this is where we are heading.

And no-one is going to stop it.

Good grief! That sounds really awful Angry Harry!

Well, it does sound really awful, my dear friend. But, in fact, it will not be - provided that we have The Three Great Freedoms!

LOL!

 

 

 



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