The resemblances in society – governments.
Arguably, this kind of societal issues are not new throughout the history of human kind. In fact, every major civilization was always ruled in a resembling – if not precisely – dictatorial manner. Reigns, kingdoms, dictatorships, empires. An high-ranking person, family, or eliterian group of people was always in charge of the vast majority of the population. However, there is a main difference that separates us from our ancestors’ past of “servitude”: the self-realization of the value we hold, individually and, especially, collectively. The path started after the Great Wars mid-20th century brought up democracies throughout the globe.
However, with the rapid increase of inherently neutral technology, these new and more subtle ways of binding the populations arose.
Among these, there is, paradoxically, the excessive, extremist and distorted representation of democracy. As countersense as this may appear, as we have seen in the huxleian dystopic reality, there can be scenarios where a group of people, conditioned with morbid* – *as seen from today’s common logic – indoctrinations, can act as judge, jury and executioner against people that do not share their vision of reality or do not act according to their standard. In the “Brave New World”, we could see this happening in multiple episodes, such as in the drug-fueled parties, or through the death-mourning conditioning. Similar to these, also “social credit scores” systems, as depicted similarly in the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive“, while superficially free of power ties to specific group of people, and thus the pinnacle of democracy, represent the result of a distorted indoctrination of the population to judge everyone with their own individual judgement metric. This could lead directly to the ostractization and isolation of a minority from the society, which can have multiple repercussions to every aspects of someone’s life.
Even if this still looks purely part of science fiction, an example of a similar system can be found in China, “Social Credit System“, where the population is given power to “judge and hunt” people that have debts or poor commercial/financial scores. While officially it is described as “Supporters of the Credit System claim that the system helps to regulate social behavior, improve the “trustworthiness” which includes paying taxes and bills on time and promote traditional moral values, …”, it appears clear how the rise of this types of systems can create an alienating scenario for the population, comprised of indoctrinated and non people, fearful of each other.
This isn’t even the only case of using AI to suppress and control the population in China. Another example is the recent scandal that entails both the CCP and Huawei. Huawei came out with a patent to introduce facial recognition software that could detect Uyghurs – a muslim minority group in China. This in itself might seem harmless however, a lot of individuals are unaware of it, but the Uyghurs are being tortured and placed in so called “re-education camps“. The fact that technology can detect race so easily and the fact that a government can exert so much power over their own people by using it for the worst; to basically reinstate what may as well be Nazi working camps, is something that should deeply concern us. It isn’t just the fact that it’s happening, but it’s that technology – our AI – is making this a realization purely due to the political incentives these parties are fueled by. Our technology that could severely improve almost every single thing is being used for detrimental and outright revolting instances. There’s no other way to even label, even if one looks at it through rose-tinted glasses, one would still see the horror unless they are a part of what has been indoctrinated already.
However, it isn’t just China and the East, there are also cases of where governments have been caught spying on their own people; the USA being one. Think back to the days two whistleblowers came out with their story and you’ll immediately think of Snowden and Assange. Snowden even revealed that the NSA was deliberately spying on their own people, with positions being taken by some saying their privacy was being violated – an inherently true statement – while other officials claim that it is necessary. This is a prime example that it isn’t just China that uses these malpractices but also the West. When technology is used for the worst and in these ways, we are looking more at an Orwellian dystopia than a Huxleyan dystopia due to the control they can exert behind it.