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MIT Technology Review on Where Orwell Went Wrong

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the hows-the-war-on-oceania-going dept.

News 667

nakhla writes "MIT's Technology Review is running an interesting article entitled Who's Afraid of 1984? The article talks about Orwell's famous work, and examines how Orwell's view of technology's impact on freedom and democracy was flawed. The article points out that, in fact, freedom and democracy were strengthened by technological innovations, and addresses its affect on Stalinism and Nazism. An interestng read for those who are worried about technology's impact on our generation and beyond."

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667 comments

this FP for my ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904109)

it does well at pooping, so i pay homage to it.

Orwell didn't go wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904322)

Fiction can't be 'wrong'. Idiots.

Slashdot only allows a user with your karma to post 2 times per day. You've already shared your thoughts with us that many times. Take a breather, and come back and see us in 24 hours or so.

If you think this is unfair, please email jamie@slashdot.org with your username "Fecal Troll Matter". Let us know how many comments you think you've posted in the last 24 hours.

Re:Orwell didn't go wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904354)

Fiction can't be 'wrong'.
I dunno - have you ever read any Ayn Rand?

wrong? (2, Interesting)

CrazyDwarf (529428) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904128)

I don't think Orwell was really that far off. We already have major cities with Big Brother Facial Recognition Software running.

joke If HDTV ever catches on, I'm not buying one... I don't want their camera looking back at me. /joke

absolutely wrong (1)

dpille (547949) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904177)

If nothing else, it's a little early to have this verdict, particularly given the US's disappointment that we weren't vigilant enough with the technology already in place to stop terrorist attacks. If I believed the article, I guess I'd find it comforting that all my police-state-growth fears here are apparently unwarranted because technology will save me.

Re:wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904379)

Why is everybody so goddamn bent out of shape over "Big Brother"?? What the hell do you need to hide? Who the fuck cares if they can see you frying bacon in your underwear?

You're delusional if you think you're so special that the government would actually take the time to keep track of your every move. And if they are watching you, it's probably because you're a criminal and deserve to be caught.

So far... (5, Funny)

zerosignal (222614) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904132)

So far, the only thing we know for certain that Orwell was wrong about was the year.

Re:So far... (4, Funny)

unicron (20286) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904180)

Man, that Mac sure has come in handy in fighting off Totalitarianism over the past 18 years.

Re:So far... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904194)

Congratulations on not reading the article and being the first person to post tripe as quickly as possible.

1984 == 1948 (1)

opiate (16005) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904265)

Reportedly Orwell just switched the last two numbers of the year of its writing. It wasn't meant to be a warning of the future, but a critique of the present (Stalinism, etc.)

Re:So far... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904275)

Bull! The book makes it quite clear that '1984' was most likely made up by the Ministry of Truth.

Just a good book (1, Troll)

kappax (588731) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904133)

It is just a good book, but look where MS is going, that P thing, that sounds like big brother to me.

FIRST POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904137)

g to the oatse c to the x CLiT sucks, and for a good time visit goatse.cx [goatse.cx]. damn right.

an alternate view (5, Insightful)

tps12 (105590) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904139)

While the point is well taken that technology has been used for more good than evil throughout history, we should not celebrate it blindly. Recall that such innovators as Henry Ford and Eli Whitney had worldviews that we would call racist and fascist today, and that Nazi Germany gave us advances in physics (via rocketry) and mathematics (encryption). The current crop of rogue hacker terrorists is just the latest iteration of this all-too-common archetype. Technology can be a great thing, but it shouldn't be worshipped without skepticism.

Re:an alternate view (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904286)

dont forget the horrible atrocities that the German Government performed during WW-II coupled with the same atrocities that the Amercians and Brits performed during the 1500-1800's on the American native population did to advance medical science..

Everyone's hands are dirty... don't ever forget that.

Re:an alternate view QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904394)

with the same atrocities that the Amercians and Brits performed during the 1500-1800's on the American native population did to advance medical science

What the hell are you talking about? Name one medical experiment that was performed on the Native American population. Hell, name one Nazi-style atrocity. Yes, Americans invaded Indian land and warred against them, but war != atrocities.

On the other hand, native american atrocities are well documented. And no, their atrocities were not in response to having their land stolen. Native Americans were at war with each other before the White Man came, and they DID do Nazi-level atrocities to each other.

Unfortunately, it's politically incorrect nowadays to remember that a LOT of indian tribes were vicious savages who were wiped out for a reason. Some of course weren't, but it's not that surprising that a lot got painted with a broad brush.

Is it because of 1984? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904142)

Is it possible it took the direction it did because of 1984, rather than inspite of it.

Do writtings such as 1984 make us more aware?

Intresting choice of words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904145)

why isnt nazism called hitlerism yet communism is refered to as stalinism?

Re:Intresting choice of words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904165)

You mean Marxism?

Re:Intresting choice of words (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904170)

why isnt nazism called hitlerism yet communism is refered to as stalinism?

What about Maoism?

Re:Intresting choice of words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904284)

same thing - "communism" distorted as the cult of the individual - just look at North Korea

Re:Intresting choice of words (1)

Maggot75 (163103) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904261)

Perhaps the author is a communist and doesn't want to cast communism in it's ideal form in a bad light.

Re:Intresting choice of words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904262)

nazism isn't called hitlerism simply because no one calls it that. people know what you mean when you say nazism. more the the point, actually, is why we call it nazism and don't just refer to it as facisim. nazism is just the "flavor" that facisim took under hitler.

as for communism, in a true academic sense it is an socio-economic theory, a variant of socialism. marxism is the type of communism championed by marx and lenin. mao and stalin made communism it the basis of their political systems, hence maoism and stalinism.

Re:Intresting choice of words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904263)

Probably because Stalinism is not the same as Communism. Read Marx and you will see that Stalin modified it for his own maniacal uses. Leon Trotsky wanted to stick more to the letter of Communism and we all know what happened to him.

Somehow i think they are speaking too soon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904157)

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html

Microsoft, and Senator Fritz Hollings may have other plans.

More afraid of Socialism (3, Insightful)

selectspec (74651) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904158)

I think Orwell was more afraid of Socialism than technology.

Re:More afraid of Socialism (1)

opiate (16005) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904204)

That's funny, because he was a socialist. He fought in the Spanish Civil War in a Trotskyist militia. Get your facts straight, righty-boy.

Re:More afraid of Socialism (1)

njdj (458173) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904350)

That's funny, because he was a socialist.
Thinking about his experiences caused him to change his mind, as intelligent people do. Animal Farm appeared in 1946, and 1984 appeared in 1949. In 1984, which you obviously haven't read, the totalitarian society has evolved from English Socialism.

Re:More afraid of Socialism - NOT! (2, Insightful)

SpringRevolt (1046) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904219)

That would be surprising since he almost gave his life fighting for it in Spain (Homage to Catalonia). What Orwell was against was Stalinism, not socialism.

1984, if you have read it, is about what happens when the unions have been crushed.

Palladium + ISP snooping on customers without consent or knowledge and without a search warrent.

We are getting there.

Orwell was just wrong about the year.

(as you can tell by my name, I am no fan of Stalinism either).

Re:More afraid of Socialism (5, Informative)

invckb (551932) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904238)

Actually, Orwell was a Socialist.

Orwell was afraid of Totalitarianism, and both 1984 and Animal Farm should be viewed as a declaration against tyrants, not an endorsement of conservative values.

Re:More afraid of Socialism (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904352)

Orwell was afraid of Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism is Socialism. Orwell's biggest mistake was not realizing that Stalin was the greatest example of a socialist ever bred.

Hitler was also a socialist - a "national socialist", but a socialist nonetheless.

Socialism tends to lead to mediocrity, stagnation, bureuacracy, and inescapable controls. Whether it's being promoted by old-school Marxists or dissembling "anarchists", it will all result in your hard-earned property being taken away and given to slackers.

Re:More afraid of Socialism (2, Insightful)

sys49152 (100346) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904328)

As other's have posted Orwell was indeed railing against totalitarianism. However, that's where this article gets it wrong. The cornerstone of 1984 is not technology, per se, but information. Confusing the two is like trying to equate "Animal Farm" to "Babe". And while information may want to be free (and for the most part currently is), there are many; like the current U.S. Executive and legislative branches, the various media associations, and others who are doing their best to limit those freedoms.

bias? (2, Insightful)

quinine (20902) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904159)

Oh, hey, what a freakin' surprise!

"New Institute of Technology finding: Technology is Good"

1984 was a work of fiction. (1)

duckpoopy (585203) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904172)

Sorry to ruin everyone's paranoid, delusional fantasies. The next time somebody uses 1984 in an argument about our eroding rights and privacy please remind them of this.

Re:1984 was a work of fiction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904199)

Too bad the fairytale is coming true.

2008 headline - MIT Optimistic, Orwell Right (5, Insightful)

Mr. Buckaroo (75837) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904175)

So between:
Facial profiling
Universal Id's
Echelon systems
Wiretaps that don't require court orders
Carnavore systems

We don't have an increasing trend of monitoring technology?

With almost all forms of communication going digital we don't have increasingly easy monitoring?

With the war on terrorism we don't have justification for increased monitoring?

What about all the cameras we now have all over Britain and increasingly in other metro areas?

We definitely are increasingly having Orwell's big brother/sister. I'd say the distinction is that society is welcoming/asking for it.

Re:2008 headline - MIT Optimistic, Orwell Right (1)

alwaldauer (467649) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904315)

You're missing the point. In 1984 all of those monitoring devices were hidden from the public. The TVs watched people in their houses, but people were never officially told about it. Because of the internet, information about the likes of carnivore have gotten out to the public, and should its use become so prevalent as to piss off the general public, the internet can serve as grounds for people to gather and protest. In the end we live in a democratic republic and if something pisses enough people off, the people's votes will reflect that. Technology allows the information to be freely expressed so that bad things will be able to piss off the public and not be kept secret.

Re:2008 headline - MIT Optimistic, Orwell Right (5, Interesting)

Yohahn (8680) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904363)

Exactally.

The only mistake that orwell seemed to make was the timeline, and accounting for biotech. (how long untill genetic profiling?)

between TIPS [citizencorps.gov] (aka "The Party".. are you a member?)
DRM and the olagopoly of companies now being allowed to own the media, we are well on our way to being told "the big lie"

DRM requires no copying of digital media without permission. And soon we will be required to have all digital broadcast media.

Perhaps he should have also been more afraid of the private sector than the coporate sector.

We're ending up with the MAX HEADROOM future instead of the 1984 one.

Re:2008 headline - MIT Optimistic, Orwell Right (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904390)

We definitely are increasingly having Orwell's big brother/sister. I'd say the distinction is that society is welcoming/asking for it.

Did Orwell ever mention how Big Brother came into existence in his book?

"We are at war with terrorists. We have always been at war with terrorists."

Radio on a chip?? (3, Interesting)

freeweed (309734) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904176)

Rather vanilla article, pretty much just a re-hash about what's been said about 1984 over the past 2 decades.

Hidden near the end, for those that can't/won't read the article:

Radios have become so inexpensive that Intel is now planning to engrave a miniature one on the corner of every silicon microchip, at no extra cost.

It links to a subscriber-only article, so there really aren't any further details. Hell, I think something like this deserves a Slashdot story all to itself! This has gotta be the coolest hack I've heard all year.

Re:Radio on a chip?? (1)

saider (177166) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904248)

I saw that too and am waiting for the "MS is going to transmit all of your personal information over the radio" rants to begin.

I have a feeling that it is a simple AM/FM radio, but what do I know.

Re:Radio on a chip?? (1)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904257)

Start with a radio on a chip, add a small circuit to hardwire a chip ID and broadcast it on demand, and you've got a built-in mechanism for locating every piece of hardware with an Intel chip.

Re:Radio on a chip?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904308)

Luckily you can defeat this by enclosing yourself in a metal box. Pasting tinfoil all over your windows should do it. Use any leftovers to make yourself a hat.

Wrong? (1)

NiGHTSFTP (515896) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904187)

Wrong isn't exactly the word.

It's still a matter of time.

Just looking at your previous story "Crypto Restrictions Are Taking Over the World" I would think that he is becoming less "wrong" every day.

Orwell's impact is why 1984 didn't come true (2)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904193)

A big part of the reason that Orwell's 1984 didn't come true is because we had Orwell to warn us. I can't think of any other book which has had such impact on freedom and human rights in this century.

Re:Orwell's impact is why 1984 didn't come true (3, Insightful)

DrVxD (184537) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904280)

> I can't think of any other book which has had such impact on freedom and human rights in this century

Mein Kampf, perhaps? Maybe not the effects of the book itself, but the effects of the horrors arising from its "teachings" have had a huge impact.

(And what's the betting that somebody mods this down because they didn't read that scentence correctly?)

Re:Orwell's impact is why 1984 didn't come true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904373)

Mein Kampf wasn't all that influential. It was the ranting and raving radio broadcasts of a mysteriously charasmatic nutcase to a country that was falling apart at the seams after the first World War.

Re:Orwell's impact is why 1984 didn't come true (2)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904281)

Exactly, if Orwell hadn't written his book, we very well might have seen Orwells vision earlier. 1984 scared some people, and it made some more vigilant. However, if you look at the way things are going all 1984 has done is gotten us a bit past that actual year, but that's still the direction we are headed. It's just takeing longer because people are aware of the idea and not everyone likes it.

I dunno if that made sense, maybe I should go back to eating my lunch now so my blood sugar goes back to normal before posting any more ;)

Re:Orwell's impact is why 1984 didn't come true (3, Funny)

realdpk (116490) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904351)

This is still something that would have been predicted by psychohistory - the release of the book and the delay it would create in the inevitability.

er, I've been reading too many books.

These guys must have read 1984 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904197)

They did not use technology to make totalitarianism unstoppable, they did it through doublethink. You imprisoned yourself. In fact they never killed anyone who did not wish to be killed for the crimes they did against the state.

The whole idea of doublethink and the ability to hold 2 contradictory ideas at once as truth is a powerful tool of control. It requires zero technology. The MIT guys totally missed the boat. In the end if you remember Smith wished to die for his sins.

I wish I could say our society was doublethink free, sadly everyday I see more evidence of its growing existence. Orwell may have been off a few decades, but he was right on the ball.

Re:These guys must have read 1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904237)

self enslavement? Come on people would not ask to be monitored for their own good. People would not beg to be given filtered news. What are you talking about?

1984 not about future (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904200)

Like all great sci-fi, 1984 isn't (and wasn't) about the future, but about the present. In this case, it was about the reality of life in communist regimes. It has little or nothing to say about "technology's impact", and only the over-literal who managed to miss the point of the book would think it does.

They missed Orwell's biggest point (5, Insightful)

ebh (116526) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904201)

The point of 1984 was not so much that there would be technology sufficient to implement totalitarianism (which as others have pointed out, we have today). The main thing was that "whoever controls the past controls the future".

That's why I fear Big Media aggregation. When news, history and other public information gets disseminated from fewer and fewer sources, it's going to be more and more tempting for those sources to use that information power to their own ends. Consider the term "Disneyfication." Also:

Ketchup is a vegetable.

Global warming? It's not true, and besides, there's nothing you can do about it.

Corporations are not bound by the pesky constitutions that kept governments from doing what Orwell predicted.

Re:They missed Orwell's biggest point (1)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904264)

That's also what I was worried about. 1984 failed to be the case on the government side, but is it coming true from a corporation/media standpoint? Obviously Orwell's novel was a worst-case scenario, and as such our society today isn't nearly as alarming as his ficticious one, but how often do you still feel as if "big brother is watching"--not big brother government, but big brother advertising? The difference, of course, is that advertising bears no "ill" intent, really. They just want to persuade you to buy their product.

Orwell was Right (1)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904207)

The article points out that they believe Orwell was wrong, for thinking that the government would be made more powerful by technology.
I understand that maybe it is not always the Government that is gaining these powers, but possibly big corporations instead, but does it really matter?
I don't really care if Big Brother is the government, or big business, the point is people are watching what we do, and how we do it. Maybe their intentions are not as malicious as those in 1984, but Big Brother is watching

Not about the future.... (5, Insightful)

Deskpoet (215561) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904212)

The article's premise that Orwell was a "futurist" is flawed.

Even a cursory examination of 1984 reveals it to be not a prediction of the future of technology, or any, future, for that matter. It is a heavy-handed condemnation of totalitarian states, whether they be "communist" or "capitalist". One could also view it as the "dark" Animal Farm, but that would be glossing over targets: AF *was* about communism; 1984 was about statism in general.

Excluding the lugubrious prose, 1984 is still a pretty effective argument against the total state, and its message is all the more germaine in this day of Homeland Security and PATRIOT acts. Remember that Winston Smith was an English bloke, one of the "good guys", but he still wound up eye-to-eye with ravenous rats.....

Re:Not about the future.... (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904369)

Agreed! I do not like it when people take a book like 1984 or a movie like 2001 and say, "See look, they were wrong, our future isn't like that at all." When that wasn't the point or purpose of it at all. Any work of science fiction that strives to only be a prediction of what future will be is shallow and has little value.

Re:Not about the future.... (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904386)

(Or the book 2001 which was done in conjunction with and mostly after the screenplay for the movie was done.)

Orwell helped prevent 1984 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904220)

Orwell, and other writers such as Dick, by warning of some of the dangers of technology have helped us to steer clear of some them. If you know your future, you can change it... right?

Although, I must say, the Department/Office of Homeland Security is the most Orwellian sounding name the US Government could've used.

I don't know... (2)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904227)

Let's look at this from a different angle.

First, we'll agree that the more you know, the more powerful you are.

Then we'll say that technology can be harnessed to process data into information at alarming rates.

And observe too how much of our lives takes its course through technological means; e-mail, television, telephone network, cell phone, ad nauseam.

Put all three together, stir well, leave overnight, and what do you get?

With proper resources, we live in a time with unprecedented opportunity for data harvesting and processing. Such proper resources are most likely to be found in an organization as large and unaccountable such as 'government'.

I could be on the wrong track here, but things like Echelon, Carnivore, Magic Lantern, etc. make me think not.

Re:I don't know... (2, Funny)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904372)

"First, we'll agree that the more you know, the more powerful you are."

Bah! I could take Hawking!

Don't take the tin foil hat off (1)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904229)

Sure if you want to read that piece of MIT propaganda then sure, technology is good, me I'm sending this message to slashdot by humming into the Cat-5.

( man is work boring )

One small change... (to the article) (1)

deathinc (211433) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904230)

s/technology/cryptography/g
And it gets a little more interesting.

Bought at Radio Shack (2, Funny)

Inexile2002 (540368) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904235)

"Many of the GPS receivers used in Desert Storm were bought at Radio Shack."

Oh sigh, I used to work retail electronic sales and dream about some guy in fatigues walking in and saying "Do you have 183,000 of these in stock? When can you have them in by?"

And the military guys always go for the extended warrantee and the spare battery plus cleaning kit.

Pink page of death!! by poopbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904239)

Either your network or ip address has been banned from this site

due to script flooding that originated from your network or ip address -- or this IP might have been used to post comments designed to break web browser rendering. If you feel that this is unwarranted, feel free to include your IP address (1.2.3.4) in the subject of an email, and we will examine why there is a ban. If you fail to include the IP address (again, in the Subject!), then your message will be deleted and ignored. I mean come on, we're good, we're not psychic.
Since you can't read the FAQ because you're banned, here's the relevant portion:

Why is my IP banned?
 Perhaps you are running some sort of program that loaded thousands of Slashdot Pages. We have limited resources here and are fairly protective of them. We need to make sure that everyone shares. If your IP loads thousands of pages in a day, you will likely be banned. Please note that many proxy servers load large quantities of pages, but we can usually distinguish between proxy servers being used by humans, and IPs running software that is hammering our servers.

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 You might be using a proxy server that is also being used by another person who did something from the above list. You should have your proxy server administrator contact us.

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- posted by poopbot: for the crapflooder in all of us

Nibabl8ogM

Orwell Wasn't Wrong.... (5, Interesting)

cluge (114877) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904240)

Orwell's vision wasn't wrong, it may be he just had the year incorrect. Not everything has come to pass yet. Yet being the operative word, especially if we as a society allow it. Just look at proposed legislation in our own congress (copy right and anti-terrorist and `protect the children`). Look at the DCMA (Is reverse engineering really illegal???).

Here are some other things that HAVE come to pass

1. Many Police units have their own paramilitary force
2. Camera Camera everywhere, and more on the way
3. Reading certain books can and will get you put on a "watch list"
4. Members of certain political parties are actively discriminated against (not all presidential canidates will face each other in a debate)
5. Loosening controls on wiretaps and eavesdropping (more so in Europe than here)

This article didn't convince me that our freedoms aren't under attack. It just reminded me how many sheep there are in the world

cluge

Re:Orwell Wasn't Wrong.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904310)

Throw in TIPS [citizencorps.gov] for good measure ...

Re:Orwell Wasn't Wrong.... (1)

Nukenbar2 (591848) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904334)

Who really cares about the Dental Party candidate for President? I'm sure glad I don't have to listen to someone who has no chance in a debate.

It's still the one thing that gives me hope (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904246)

Every so often, in a world full of corrupt CEO's, politicians, religious leaders, and the general stupidity of humanity, it's still technology that gives me some hope.

Why? Because the more information that is out there, the harder it is for Truth to be hidden. Enron could only hide their lies for so long, before Truth was finally revealed. Stalin's regime could only stand for so long before it was revealed that corrupt leaders and infantile ideas of freedom do not a good country make.

So when I look at China trying to create the greatest firewall ever, or RIAA execs who think thier profits come before all else, I have some hope that, maybe not today, and perhaps not tomorrow, but eventually, the truth will be revealed.

The progress of science and technology is the ultimate Truth Machine, and there's no regime that can stand against that forever.

orwell was right, just mis-directed (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904249)

Orwell's idea of the future was pretty close, except he had the antagonist wrong.. it's not the governments that will opress, it's the corperations.. WE are watched more closely and programmed daily by the companies around us more than any government could ever dream of. Think of it, Companies can and will become large enough to control entire countries with relative ease.. (all you have to do is form a mega-corperation and start loaning massive amounts of money of IP to your government and then call in your markers at the right time.. along with greasing the right people... it's trivial to completely control any government.... you just need enough money.)

Orwell never said that technology would opress, it's the men that control that technology that opress.

Better Book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904252)

The better book about encroaching government powers on personal freedom is Atlas Shrug (sp?). More applicable from a non-technical sense.

Who paid them? (1)

slumpie (127664) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904254)

Technology doesn't mean control.

People can control other people; with or without technology. Technology is only an instrument, not a cause.

Pop Quiz (3, Insightful)

Whispers_in_the_dark (560817) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904272)

Q: Was 1984 wrong?
A: No, technology is just as capable of enslaving as it is liberating.
Q: Was 1984 right?
A: No, technology's use isn't exclusively tyrrany.
Q: Should we be afraid of technology?
A: No, technology isn't evil on its own. We always need to be skeptical of overzealous use of anything.
Q: Should we trust all purposes of technology?
A: No, technology can be used as a tool for many purposes, not all of them for our betterment.
Q: What's your point then?
A: The point is that Orwell has a point, but like any work of fiction (or fact for that matter) it is only an illustration of something, not the thing itself.

1984 could only possibly be a warning of the *possible* misuse of technology. Although eerie, Orwell could not possibly know for sure how it would be used and it is still up to us as the governed to determine how we will accept its role in our lives.

These are my views and your milage, as always, may vary.

What a load of crap (1)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904274)

Yeah, it's a good thing Orwell was wrong about so many things:
Video cameras watch you on the street to see if you commit a crime.

The prison population has exploded, mostly due to non-violent offenders with mandatory minimum sentencing.

There is now a wide variety of illegal knowledge.

Wiretaps on whim, rather than court orders. (You are a communist ^h^h^h^h^h terrorist!)

Secret trials.

Unending, unwinnable wars against philosophies, rather than Eurasia and Eastasia (Terrorrism, Drugs)

I wish the Soviet Union would get back together, it allowed the people in the US to have some perspective on all the freedoms that they now don't seem to care to lose.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904278)

Orwell warns more about the USE of technology, not the technology itself.

The beginning of the Internet certainly states the benefits of an open society, but look at all the powers that be that SUDDENLY want to clamp down on this openness AND want technology to be that clamp (aka, Palladium, Carnivore, Face Recognition)

I as an individual should govern that use, not a government or corporation.

? The revolution is being killed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904279)

Post 9-ll legislation, RIAA, and simmilar players are back on track trying to reduce freedom. Did the authors of this paper ignore the events of the past couple years, especially post 9-ll. They seem to want to celebrate some victory, there never will be a victory, this is an on going cycle that must be fought.

nuf said.

Actually (2)

smoondog (85133) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904285)

After watching Ashcroft for a while, I'm beginning to think that Orwells flaw was more of a question of time. When, not how. While civil liberties are still defended we know have (among other things):

1. Office of homeland security (can anyone say, ministry of information from brazil?)
2. Carnivore
3. The govenment want to hold non-citizens practically indefinately without due process
4. The governments new power [washtimes.com]
5. Internet Censureship within china. [slashdot.org]
6. And, of course, Microsoft.
etc...

I think a lot of freedoms have been found by the internet in the US. But remember the US is 250-300 million people out of 5-6 billion. Do you think the Chinese think 1984 is flawed?

-Sean

Re:Actually (2)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904341)

"Ahem, you wan't Information Retrieval, sir."

7. TIPS (government sponsored ratting!)
8. internationally supported KEY ESCROW!
:
:

I agree completely. I wonder how chinese students feel about 1984, assuming they are allowed to read it!

MIT "techonology review" (1)

brain-in-a-box (168001) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904288)

This publication is IHMO the best example of the decline of the US scientific community. Instead of high quality, insightful and original contents just buzzwords and tech hype.
Take their TR 100 report [technologyreview.com] of the 100 "innovators" "whose work and ideas will change the world". If you look at the list [technologyreview.com] of these people you will see a name we all know: Rob Malda for slashdot [slashdot.org].
While I respect Rob's Perl coding and his dedication for slashdot, everybody would surely agree that slashdot won't change the face of the world (the only exception being perhaps the bill from your ISP).
Can you take people who pulish such stuff as a "scientific report" seriously ?
I sometimes suspect that most modern advanment in US sciences come from imported foreign researchers from 3rd world countries or Europe.

Name one thing the government does efficiently.... (1)

duckpoopy (585203) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904296)

What makes anyone think that the government has the competence and manpower to monitor ordinary citizens?

That's why it's so scary. (1)

paranoic (126081) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904383)

They don't have the manpaoer so they are trying to make you spy on your neighbor/coworker or just about anybody YOU don't like.

Literal translation is not the point (3, Interesting)

quantax (12175) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904324)

1984 was a fictional book, and is not meant to be taken as a mirror of reality. Though the themes it exhibits did exist in the Soviet Union at the time, this serves more as a warning than anything else. If you read this book and said 'Haha, looks like Orwell was wrong after all, its 2002 and that hasn't happened yet!' you missed the entire point of the book. It was more of a treatise on communism & tyranny than about technology specifically. Technology is good and all, and yes in certain respects is allows more freedom, but it just as equally eliminates it, as well as privacy. For most technology, there are 'good' and 'bad' uses. Atomic research was done for weaponry, but now we can use it for energy purposes, rocket research done by Germans was used for the (unsuccessful) V1 & V2 rockets, but has allowed us to leave our planet. The largest problem with technology today is that the social acceptance is slower than the rate it is discovered, which results in many ethical/religous issues. I would not laugh at Big Brother quite yet, especially in light of current initiatives such as Palladium, DRM, amongst many others. Maybe it won't be a government, but rather a corperation; money is more valuable than freedom or privacy to those in power.

Yeah, Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904329)

I know I'd feel better if we had HALF the technology in our hands that the government does. He who owns the tech, rules. They'll go as far as they can take it without getting caught. And George Bush hasn't proven to me that he cares at all about human rights or privacy or free thought. Throw in his possible links to the NAZI party and eugenics and we have Big Brother waiting to happen. How did BB get power initially? Voted in, because he could deceive the people so well. Think about it.

It's not so much technology, but *the imbalance in who has control of it* that scares me.

EMP weapons can shut us peasants off instantly. But we can't do anything to a dictatorship fascist government but obey. You riot if you want. I'll be cowering at home avoiding the TASERS.

Zooberman
www.lp.org

Ya know.... (3, Insightful)

Asprin (545477) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904339)


...for an article published in the MIT Technology Review, that wasn't nearly as "beefy" I expected.

Salon has longer and deeper advertisements.



Oh well, I guess they said what they wanted to say.

The article is feeble (4, Insightful)

Carnage4Life (106069) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904342)

The main thrust of the article is that while Orwell envisioned technology being used to enslave people that in recent times technology (specifically information and telecommunication-related tech) has actually been used to liberate people especially with the end of the Cold War. The author completely missed the point of 1984 and must also be blind to what is happening in the US and around the world today.

First of all, 1984 is not a commentary on the evils of technology but instead a vision of a world where repressive government completely holds sway. Technology by itself is not good or bad but can be used for evil or good depending on who controls it. The same PC that is used to work on homework assignments can be used to download kiddie pr0n, the same knife used for preparing a meal can be used to commit murder, the same car used for taking ones offspring to school can be used in a hit & run accident.

Secondly, it isn't cut and dried that governments and corporations aren't using technology to repress their citizens and employees. From genetic testing of employees before promotion to biometrics and government DNA banks to ever vigilant camera surveilance, people are being silently and overtly repressed. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg which I am sure will get worse as time progresses, just take a look at the US government's citizen informant program aka Operation TIPS [citizencorps.gov] which has been criticized by the ACLU [yahoo.com]

Very mediocre (1)

teetam (584150) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904343)

A very mediocre article. Only the naive will assume that technology and media are really free and not in the control of the government or giant corporations (which are the real government).

Take the most prevasive media, TV. All the TV news channels say the same things. If we weren't used to the personalities, there is no way we distinguish between any of them. And as far as propaganda is concerned, do you really think you hear both sides of the story everytime? There are so many examples I can give to show the contrary is true, but I don't want to derail the discussion.

When the Internet became a big thing, it was supposed to have levelled the playing field. "Anyone can publish and everyone can read" was the mantra. Today, a vast majority of the web traffic everyday goes to either Yahoo, msn or Aol. People have lost the will to surf and find sites of interest.

The article is correct in assuming that the masses do have a lot of technology in their hands today. But, all these gadgets still do and show only what a few giant corporations want them to.

Kafka's `The Trial' (3, Interesting)

cygnusx (193092) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904356)

There was this paper [ssrn.com] (short writeup here [nytimes.com]) that argued that Orwell had it wrong, Big Brother (or lots of little brothers for that matter) wasn't the _primary_ threat, it was much more insiduous than that --
We are not heading toward a world of Big Brother or one composed of Little Brothers -- but toward a more mindless process -- of bureaucratic indifference, arbitrary errors, and dehumanization -- a world that is beginning to resemble Kafka's vision in "The Trial".
Makes a number of interesting points.

Communism vs. Capitalism (1)

invid (163714) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904358)

Orwell was warning us about the natural progression of communism and how technology could facilitate the communist machine. In 1984 there wasn't a capitalist block of countries competing with the communist ones, so the communist countries couldn't have exclusive control over information systems.

Orwell's book succeded in its purpose in warning generations of people of what communism would become if it could. However, what we need now is an equally compelling book about what capitalism can become now that it is attempting to gain control of the technology of information. Technology is giving the top dog capitalists greater knowledge about each and every individual. This can lead to a larger power shift against the poorest 90% of the population then there is already.

China anyone? (1)

peterdaly (123554) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904359)

I don't claim to be an expert on China, but I have heard some interesting things about the media control in China, Great Firewall of China, etc., which are very similar to parts of the book.

An example I heard on NPR recently involved a damn which is being built, and the propeganda being sent to the people. People are being kicked out of their homes. If you are a card carrying communist, you may get offered new housing close by. If not, well, good luck. There are many negative aspects to the damn, but the general population just seems to know and repeat back when questioned, that the project "is for the greater good of the motherland."

While maybe not as extream as the book, or as technically advanced, the gist is the same.

As I said, I am no expert of China, but that is the "propeganda" my media sources in the United States are feeding me.

-Pete

This isn't you're grandma's 1984!! (2)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904370)

Technology changes the rules of the game. Technology used as a freedom enhancing device today is the freedom restricting device of tomorrow (all depends on who's controlling the tech). Do you think the government being able to track your every move as something that would give you or them more control? It seems to me that the government is controlling the citizens more and more every day. Instead of the citizens controlling the government.

Who knows what the hell the NAZI's would have done with today's technology.. I shudder to think. In today's technology laden atmosphere is has become easy if not commonplace to lie and manipulate statistics to back up your arguments.. We're seeing it already in our government and corporations on an alarming scale.

Take the reigns before they reign you in.

1984 wasn't about technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3904385)

... it was about control. The technology was largely irrelevant because no-one you met could be trusted not to be a spy, no news source or historical resource could be trusted not to have been tampered with and even the language you used was being gradually revised to erode your ability to think in terms of dissent.

1984 (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904391)

Contrary to popular believe, 1984 was not Orwell's vision of the future. The original title was 1948, the year he wrote it. It was his take on society at the time, not a prophecy of the future. It was his publisher who suggested he transpose the last two digits, to make the book sell better.

The BIG Lie (1)

Zabu (589690) | more than 11 years ago | (#3904392)

1984's goal was to show how future technology could be used for propaganda. Orwell was good at playing with reader's emotions, which holds true today. When the book was first released, the idea that someone was watching us was still unknown, but now current readers see it as a reality.

Propaganda is very interesting and complicated, it seems the less you believe it affects you, the more it actually does.
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