Tuesday, 10 June 2014

65 years since'1984'.

Orwell's timeless masterpiece
A dystopian future, a totalitarian regime, and an omnipresent "Big Brother". George Orwell must have had some courage to portray the future of mankind in such a horrendously hideous sense. With every action under scrupulous scrutiny, every shred of protest against the tyranny ruthlessly quashed and with the common human being no more powerful than a rudderless shrimp, the world with its three continents provided the most lucrative opportunity to get itself ruled under a shabby but still valid 'democracy'. So valid were Orwell's premonitions about the future that some of them fit astonishingly perfect in today's world. Here, we'll try and observe a few you never believed would happen. 



Human beings in their tryst of forming a completely connected communication sphere, built models that connected live feeds for everything ranging from traffic signals to building quins and to the latest 'smart' devices. While computers could capture your movements on your webcams since ages, the contemptuously susceptible protocol structures and the ever growing community of crackers can now hack into your local system at their will. Once that's done, every action of your's gets recorded without your own accord. The buck doesn't stop here, the more mesmerizing allegory is yet to be partaken. The Smart TVs.

One of the most erstwhile preposterous but amazingly befuddling facets of the Big Brother's rule was the amazing Television which Orwell vehemently called the Telescreen. It's hard to see how Orwell could have portended such a device except for doing some time travel. The Telescreen was a TV which would show only what the Big Brother wanted you to watch, self extolling content, but what takes the cake was the Telesecreen's capability to see and hear you! Not only this, your actions, your emotions and every speck of human manifestation in front of your Telescreen on each and every one of the leading party's messages and programs would be thoroughly and assiduously watched. Even the minutest of deviations from what's normal, would be noticed and you'd become a contender for being 'vaporized'.

While the above narrative might seem fatuous, we've moved somewhat in that path. The Smart TV as of now shows what you yourself want to watch but the news, which according to Orwell was the only thing people could use TVs for, is already tailored. Talk about the latest Network 18 takeover by Reliance or the fact that the leading US corporations already hold suzerainty and discretion over the news content, it's not the political parties but the powerful honchos that rule the arena. Hence be a normal or a Smart TV, you're pretty much watching what is way away from the truth. With these channels crowding up like herds and killing each other, pecuniary pressures will creep up and open new avenues for sartorial or even couture coverage. Bingo! Orwell, how well you got that on time.

Welcome the latest spy in your home


Now moving to a Smart TV specificity. Having one in my house with the mandatory HD DTH, I experienced something that was a replica of what we've seen on the Internet for years but something I never expected to see in a TV. Customization on the Internet runs on the backbone of espionage. Every site you surf, every widget you scour, is looked upon by corporations with drool and slobber. Look out for a pair of shoes on an online store and your social network will throw up the ad persistently till you buy or die, whichever comes earlier. I had just come to accept that truth and now my Smart TV startled me!

Watch a few songs on the TV, and your DTH provider starts advertising its own music offering, watch a few cooking programs for your gourmet demeanor and your DTH pesters you to subscribe to its own cooking channel. What flummoxed me was that I watched a news feature on FIFA World Cup for 2-3 days in consecuition and my DTH immediately recognized my appetite for football and threw me a personal message to subscribe to Six which is the Indian partner for the event. It was unbelievable. While I enjoyed all of this for a while, I soon realized that now even my TV is keeping an eye on all I do. Goodness gracious, it's all been done in a good sense till now, but wait a minute. Your Smart TVs are now equipped with cameras!

Yes, the TV of the future is the perfect Telescreen. It not only makes you watch what the top notch businessmen and the politicos want, it can also be used to spy on you. Turn on the TV or leave it on standby, and the national security agency can leverage on your Smart TV's Internet connection to control the camera and see and hear what you're doing. While they can already find out what you're watching, they can even see whether you elate or groan on anything and find out any instance of what Orwell called 'ThoughtCrime' which refers to a definitive thought against the reign. While Orwell believed everyone in front of a TV screen could be put up in scrutiny, it's both cynical and impossible. However, as and when you get under the radar, you could be snooped and the officials can drop by without even your notice. While it will just be a mere extension of the brutal demise of the free form of speech with whistleblowers, crusaders and ardent vocalists going down with their speeches or even their Facebook posts leading the mobs to them, you'll now not be spared even in your own living room where you felt isolated from the world's whims till now. Be careful, the Big Brother is watching you!