Techno-fascism

Great blog post by Mark Carrigan of sociologicalimagination.org:

He starts off with personal experiance of using a tracking device:

Earlier this week I finally bought the Jawbone Up24 after weeks of deliberation. I’d got bored with the Nike Fuel Band, losing interest in the opaque ‘fuel points’ measurement and increasingly finding it to be an unwelcome presence on my wrist. I’d also been ever more aware of how weird my sleep patterns have become in the past couple of years, cycling between rising early and staying up late, with little discernible rhyme or reason. The idea of tracking my sleep in a reasonably accurate fashion, using degree of bodily movement as a cypher for the depth of sleep, appealed to me on a reflexive level.

This experiance of being nudged by wearable tech makes him consider how intrusive wearable tech be if were made manditory and used to enforce behaviour.

I set the ‘idle alert’. I did so because I found it an appealing idea. It was an expression of my own agency. But it left me with a sense of quite how intrusive and aggressive this technology could be if it were ever mandated.
How hard is it to imagine a situation where Amazon factory workers are expected to wear similar bands, programmed to issue a vibrating warning after 15 minutes of idleness and to alert the supervisor if the worker is still idle a few minutes later? Is it at all challenging to imagine a comparable band with an RFID chip being used to track and sanction a call centre operator who spends too long in a toilet?
The most interesting point is on conditionality of welfare as a method of diffusion of these control techniques. Governements use tags to track offenders and Sobriety tags are being trialled in London to enforce abstinence on people banned from drinking. With tight budgets, a fondness for technological solutions and political rhetoric which divides recipients of welfare into the deserving and undeserving. How long these techniques move from ‘offenders’ to the ‘dependant’, before wealthfare payments and healthcare are made conditional on ‘good behaviour’ – enforced by a wearable monitoring system?
How hard is it to imagine a situation where a Conservative government, eager to separate ‘strivers’ from ‘skivers’ demands that welfare recipients submit to monitoring of their alcohol and nicotine intake?
How hard is it to imagine a situation where recipients of weight related interventions on the NHS are made to wear activity tracking bands with the threat of withdrawn rights to healthcare in the case of unhealthy eating or sedentary lifestyles?
Consumer stuff like Fitbit & Glass is just the first wave. It normalises wearable tech and introduces us gently to the idea of being monitored and nudged. It’s fun, it’s  cool, it makes us ‘better’. The next wave is being coersed or forced by employeers, insurers, carers or government into to wearing devices that enforce ‘correct’ behaviour.
….
You can read the whole blog post here
….
Advertisements