For less than a hundred bucks you can put a bracelet on our wrist that “tracks everyday activity,” downloads readings to your computer and thus, presumably, makes it available to anyone with the right technology. It’s another slip down the increasingly steep slope toward the total surveillance society. And it’s not being forced on us by some evil dictator. Judging by the ad in one of the Sunday supplements, we are being enticed to do it to ourselves.
In this case, the enticement is fitness or wellness. The device, the ad says, “measures how long and how well you sleep to help you reach your fitness goals.” Now, reasonably perceptive human beings can probably tell how well and how long they sleep. They can look at a clock to check the duration of their slumber, and if they wake up refreshed, they can deduce they slept pretty well.
The technology assumes people are ignorant or dense, too helpless to live even though they have the benefit of millions of years of evolution to help them survive from one day to the next. And if we succumb to the enticement and spend $99.99 for a self-monitoring bracelet that tracks everything we do and reports it to some electronic device, then we really are too stupid to deserve personal freedom.
Or political or economic freedom either. If we need this kind of technology to tell us how long we slept, how can we be trusted to make decisions about what to eat? How are we expected to make a living, and how can we be self-governing enough to cast a vote? Technology is leading us, down and further down the slippery slope, to the point where nobody can do anything without some kind of device.
The driverless car Google is developing is one example. If that thing is ever unleashed on the public, and if people are dumb enough to buy one, they deserve to be treated as helpless and hopeless. They will have to be watched all the time, and they’ll need a higher authority to make all the decisions that govern their rudderless lives. And for that, activity-tracking devices will be very helpful. So helpful, in fact, that they should be made mandatory. After all, how else can a helpful government tell who needs help? (hh)