The Inevitable Police State

Since 2000, I’ve been closely following news releases from the ACLU, EFF, and updates regularly posted by Bruce Schneier. The civil liberties situation in the United States is tragic, and as the economy of the US continues to decline, more innocent citizens will certainly become victims of the state’s ever expanding police powers.

But I’ve decided the situation is simply too depressing to continue thinking about. It’s like trying to hold back the tides in the ocean.

A fundamental rule in technology says that whatever can be done will be done.
- Andrew Grove

If technology can be made, it will be made. Horrible devices will be made (nuclear weapons, biological weapons) but amazing things will be made too (the internet, growing replacement organs in labs, treatment of DNA based diseases)

The police state will evolve, and countermeasures will evolve. it’s a tug of war.

Even though i despise the american “terrorism” obsession, i do think it is a very real threat over the long term (but not quite yet)… it’s about math really.

Technology makes us all more powerful. it’s a force multiplier. If you assume that 1% of society is always going to be downtrodden, but smart and organized – the guys that create a new gov’t during the times of revolution…. well, those guys are present all the time, whether it’s their moment to shine or not. Yet our system only permits one president at a time. So what if it’s not “time” for a revolution? These guys will still agitate, they organize, and in order to get their way, a certain percentage will even be willing to destroy.

  • Think about how far little drone airplanes have come for cinematography. but instead of loading them with cameras, they could be loaded with weapons. then fly them into crowded subway stations.
  • Or think about a team of 20 people driving pickup trucks each releasing a cargo of long nails onto the busiest freeway interchanges at exactly, at exactly the busiest moment.
  • Or think about packing 100 shipping container full of explosives, and choosing delivery routes for those containers so that they are on the bottom row, sinking each ship… choose the right 100 ships, synchronize the deployment time, and you could do massive economic damage.

We live in a new world.

  • People drive faster, walk faster, commute farther than days past.
  • Supply chains are longer, connecting the entire world through fewer centralized points (airports, subway stops, container terminals, petrol pipelines, highways).
  • Remote data transmission, remote cameras (targeting), night vision, miniaturization, GPS and mobile data networks, drone vehicles (from RC cars and aircraft to to googles new car).

These hypothetical attacks would have been major operations that only nationally sponsored (CIA, KGB) agitators could have pulled off 50 years ago, but an angry, well funded frat house could pull them off today, and within our lifetime one individual acting alone could do it.

Our system supporting the life of seven billion humans is fragile, and even a little SNAFU that say took out 1% of us, that’s SEVENTY MILLION INNOCENT PEOPLE. Remember that WWII killed 2.5% of the world population, only 60 million at that time. One man acting alone would be hard pressed to kill hundreds a half century ago, and one man acting alone could easily kill 10,000 in the not distant future.

Yes, i hate the bureaucrats. Yes, it’s horrible that the US is investing scarce economic assists into repressive technology while we’ve allowed many good middle class jobs to be relocated to Asia and have nothing to replace them with. It’s tragic that since the average americans economic condition will worsen, they’ll be more likely to agitate, and therefore more likely to become an enemy of the state.

Technology can destroy us, and technology can save us, and set us free.

7 thoughts on “The Inevitable Police State”

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