Just Call Me Captain Paranoia

I have found that my views on things are constantly evolving.  As I get more information I reassess whatever idea or belief that I previously held in order to come up with what I consider to be a more accurate one.  Synthesis, antithesis and thesis.  It is this philosophical process that kind of guides me into the waters that I am now attempting to venture which is to re-examine my beliefs on socialism as well as (but to a much lesser extent) free market capitalism.

When I was younger I would say that I was unaware that I was a socialist.  I thought I was a conservative because I held conservative views on social issues like abortion, gay marriage, etc.  But in all actuality I was a socialist at heart because I held onto the view that there were ideas that I could implement, laws that I could create, and emotions that I could generate that would lead to a Utopian sort of America.  All of this in the name of God of course.

As good as my intentions were and as noble as they seemed I eventually read some materials that changed my mind on just how productive or good my actions were.  I had a friend who moved out of Ohio to pursue a degree at Indiana Wesleyan university.  On the weekends or on holidays he would come back home and we would hang out and drink coffee and talk about all of the cool ideas he was hearing about at college.  It was at one of these very chill coffee talks that he showed me a print off of a speech given by Nobel prize winning economist F.A. Hayek.

The speech was about something called “the pretense of knowledge”.  I often like to confuse the name of this speech, or at the very least smash it together with Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”.  Hayek’s speech was about socialsm, central planning, or whatever word you want to describe a left wing government.  The main theme in this speech was that central planning could not work because one person or even a large group of people could never have enough relevant information in order to make decisions on how goods and services were to be allocated so that a system could run efficiently.

This paper is really the one that revolutionized my way of thinking.  As intelligent as I believed that I was, I couldn’t have enough information to be making decisions for others because there were too many unforeseen consequences that I couldn’t control.  So my mission started to become one where I advocated for freedom from the shackles of government rather than try to contribute to a system of slavery and incredible inefficiency.

Now after about ten years of this way of thinking I have began to notice something terrifying.  It’s terrifying to me at least.  It’s something that can do the unthinkable; It’s something that accurately predicts the desires of people on a massive scale in real time.  This is a dagger to Hayek’s idea.

The other day I was perusing through some videos on Youtube.  After watching one particular video something caught my attention in the video.  So I decided to do a Youtube search on what caught my eye and I typed the first letter of what would be a four or five word search and immediately the obscure thing I was looking for came up as the first recommended search term.  What I was looking for wasn’t in any of the description of the video or video tags.  It was incredible.  This started happening over and over.

Analytics has gotten so incredibly accurate at predicting what we want that it is beginning to dispel the idea that we can’t have fast, reliable and relevant information in order to make accurate predictions about what people are going to want in real time.  This is horrifying to me.

I’m not trying to poo poo on you but people for the most part are generally not good.  When you give bad people power they abuse it.  There are no such things as fair haired angels.  It’s dangerous to give someone the ability to control our lives for us in our supposed own best interest.  But that’s exactly what this technology allows to happen.  I’m not against it, I just think this should put us on guard.  Because if our government starts to use the analytic capabilities that a company such as google has it could result in one of the most horrifying tyrannical dictatorships, if not the most horrific, of all time.

The only thing that has stopped the abuse of government in the past is the fact that when a government gets too inefficient the people will rise up and overthrow it.  But if a government can meet people’s basic needs most people are willing to hand over their other rights.  It’s important to be aware of this so that we aren’t sheep going to slaughter.  I know that the government doesn’t have this technology yet or else things would be running better.  But as Google and the government begin having a closer relationship don’t be surprised in what you see happen.  And when a big government has the capability of running efficiently, look out.  For now just call me Captain Paranoia.

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