To the current generation, the term ‘Big Brother’ refers to the cult reality TV show that first aired on Channel 4 at the turn of the century. It was first discussed in George Orwell’s iconic novel 1984, however, which was set in a dystopian future overseen by a controlling and sinister government.
In this book, Big Brother is a fictional character and symbol of a totalitarian state’s oppressive regime, and one that refers to constant surveillance of citizens by the authorities. Although fanciful at the time, the subsequent development of public CCTV networks, geotracking and email monitoring has made Orwell’s masterpiece increasingly relevant as time has progressed.
With the further development of smart technology and artificial intelligence, there’s no doubt that technology is placing us under greater scrutiny than ever before. We’ll explore this further below, while asking why it may not necessarily be a bad thing.
From Big Brother to Scada Systems – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Tracking Technology
In the digital age, we’ve seen how an incredible rate of technological advancement has created an increasingly connected world. Sustained innovation has also made increasingly vulnerable to the machinations of others, however, who can watch, track and capitalise on our movements for their own gain.
The debate surrounding the scope of CCTV has raged for years, of course, while more recent developments have also traversed the fine line between good and bad. Geotracking can be used to trace a person’s location through their mobile phone, for example, while associated apps such as Find my Friends enable you to see where others are based solely on their phone number.
Even the U.S. government has come under fire for accessing and reading people’s private emails, with previous administrations having used the Stored Communications Act (SCA) to achieve this aim. This practice has since been outlawed by the Supreme Court, and while it was supposedly undertaken to help wage the war on terror the infringement of individual privacy raised huge questions about the use of technology to monitor other.
While many of these innovations can be easily manipulated or misused, it’s important to note that there are some which have solely positive connotations for user. Take so-called Scada systems, for example, which have been developed by companies like Servelec Technologies and have been adopted by a large number of businesses with multiple sites.
Essentially a secure software and telemetry platform, a Scada system can monitor and control a diverse range physical assets in real-time across a number of different locations. It is one of the most practical and beneficial applications of smart technology in the commercial world, and one that has revolutionised efficient site management for large corporations.
The Last Word
While Orwell’s observations were well ahead of their time, even he could not have foreseen the way in which technology would have evolved to monitor and track our movements in the modern age.
Still, there are pros and cons to the deployment of remote tracking and communication technologies, with CCTV providing a relevant case in point. Not only this, but we’re also seeing the development of dedicated systems for commercial use, which are focused on connecting different sites and improving business efficiencies.
So, while the robots may well be watching and tracking you in the digital age, this is not always something to be feared and in many instances it can be of a benefit to households and businesses alike.