Information is the Key
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
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!
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
No more queuing for hours at the airports to have your baggage
checked for terrorist intent.
As you pass by the sensors, the security staff will see your details on their
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
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
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
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
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
And it will also disempower the bad!
"Who raped that woman at the corner of Lewis Street on 4/5/2002 at
"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
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
... if you could know that the surgeon who is doing your operation has a
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
sleep with has not got AIDS?
... if you could trust everyone because everyone was trustworthy?
Such things would be HUGELY beneficial for all
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
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
What harmful mischief could you possibly get
up to without being caught?
The increasing free flow of information is nothing to be feared.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!