Invading privacy

The privacy of the individual is being constantly invaded by the governments the world over and by the captains of industry. Even to get essential services from the State, a citizen has to fill forms of different kinds, disclosing his bank account, PAN number, Aadhar card number, his and his spouses and progeny’s incomes and assets and what not. The prying eyes of the State will find out every minor detail of the individual. Over and above this,  the citizen in the industrial society is being constantly kept under surveillance and his likes and dislikes for certain products, his emotions while surfing websites, etc, are being constantly monitored so that the contents of the sites can be made more attractive to the surfer and his attention is kept longer on the content being displayed.
A news report says technology has been devised to analyse human emotions and put the results of the analyses to commercial use. A Facebook technology can secretly watch the face of the man using the Facebook, study his facial expressions and see how one’s facial expressions change when one comes across different types of contents. That will determine the feed in the website that the user views. For example, if a viewer gives more attention to an ad of a brand of Scotch whisky, the website will be flooded with more brands of Scotch. That may not be directly harmful for a viewer.
But the technology can be further improved and used to change people’s emotions. If such a technology is invented, it will allow those wielding political power to use it to generate emotions for and against anything – a political party, or programme or an individual leader in thousands or tens of thousands of people. This is fraught with unpredictable and undesirable possibilities. Way back in the 1920s when the community of scientists was trying to break the atom and find out its internal structure, nobody could have dreamt that it will eventually lead to the making of the deadliest of weapons of mass destruction – the atom bomb. In fact in about two decades, the Manhattan Project was conceived of and the atom bomb became a reality.
Science is neither moral nor immoral. It is just amoral. It is man who has to decide to which use he will put science – for creating a better life for him or to face him with the real danger of extinction of all life on earth. Science for science’s sake may seem highly stimulating an idea to many scientists but thoughtless use of science can create a Frankenstein’s monster that may destroy its own creator. Controlling and changing people’s emotions, outlook, judgment of what is good and what is bad may create a perpetual monopoly of power for a small coterie.

Wednesday, 14 June, 2017