Well, I've read Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter's novel The Light of Other Days
, since a poster on Smart Mobs
recommended it as a more current SF novel on issues around privacy and surveillance than the stuff I'd been throwing around. Bottom line - frustrating as hell. It throws off lots of ideas, but doesn't develop many of them, and it has an entirely too optimistic conclusion, rather reminiscent of another book
, oddly. Anything bad that happens in the book is the result of unenlightened people's reactions to technology (or the fact that one of the main characters is monstrously selfish, apparently for no other reason that to keep the story moving).
There's an attitude I've seen a lot of online, that technology = destiny. That any bad consequences of a given technology are easily remedied by more technology, or by those goofy end-users giving up their unenlightened views and realizing that there is no problem. The death of privacy imminent? Well, only the guilty have anything to hide anyway, Besides, any possible application of a technology will be realized, so best to deal with it and move on.
I'm not some neo-Luddite
, bemoaning the destruction of some mythical Golden Age through rampant adoption of technology. I'm not saying that we shouldn't seek to advance technology because we can't predict all the possible consequences. But would it hurt to ask "Why should this be developed and what might the consequences be?," even if we don't have all
the answers? To figure out what kind of a society we want and develop technologies to facilitate that? Or am I just an unevolved stasist