July 27, 2003
Privacy hysteria

The insidious truth about 'Non-Lethal' Weapons is an hysterical screed against new weapons that ar more likely to incapacitate an enemy combatant, rather than kill him outright or permanently cripple him.

The author of the piece, Joshua Ortega, is a talented science fiction author, but he's also more than a little unhinged, with an anti-authoritarian streak that also colors his views on technology. He appears to have an anti-tech view because of the potential of such technologies to be abused by a power-hungry government. By accentuating these negative possibilities, he ignores the many positive applications of new technology, and plays into the hands of reactionary luddites on both ends of the political spectrum, from Pat Buchanan to Amory Lovins.

This is not Ortega's first op-ed piece in the Seattle Times; he also wrote this piece last year, which touches upon the implantable chip debate. He utterly fails to notice that the chips are not mandated by the government or any agency with enforcement capabilities (in other words, they are totally voluntary). One cannot be upset if another voluntarily chooses to take an action which compromises their own liberty. The only possible solution to Ortega's dilemma would seem to be a law to ban the use of such devices, which presents its own Orwellian dilemma.

I am a fairly strong proponent of privacy concerns, but I realize that the only way to totally ensure privacy is to stop all technology research and establish some draconian rollbacks of technology advances to prevent any chance of them being used by any agency. This is unrealistic and undesirable.

(UPDATE—27July/3:00 PM—Jane Galt gets it as well. She points out some of the hysteria over inventory tracking is irrational and unfounded. This also ties in, tangentially, to this post of mine, from last year, dealing with the grocery club cards that are proliferating up here. Albertson's is the most recent company to introduce a card, but they do not require any paperwork to get the card; if paying by cash, there is no paper trail at all.)

posted on July 27, 2003 12:07 PM


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