THE ride-hailing app Uber now has a policy saying you must take a photo of yourself wearing a mask before they’ll let you into the car. Aside from being a visual oxymoron, what single woman would send her picture, masked or unmasked, to a strange man and then get in his car?
Having to show your mugshot before you’re permitted a service is but the latest step in a gradual commodification of the population.
I use the term advisedly. It means, according to Wikipedia, the ‘transformation of goods, services, ideas, nature, personal information or people into commodities or objects of trade. Slave trade as a form of human trafficking is a form of the commodification of people’.
Modern technology can harness whole populations, and it is this harnessing which brings the current Fourth Industrial Revolution into resemblance with its mechanical predecessors.
In the post-modern technology-driven revolution, personal data has been at a premium for a while. It’s been compared to the ‘petrol’ that fuels big tech, from the platforms such as Facebook which use facial recognition software to train their AI systems with your photos, to dating apps such as Tinder, where the lovelorn have literally become the transactional goods themselves.
The term commoditisation, the action or process of treating something as a mere commodity, is also relevant. Defined in Investopedia as ‘the process of converting products or services into standardised, marketable objects, the process tends to strip away unique or identifying qualities of the commodity in favour of identical, lower-cost items that can be interchanged with one another’.
The more our lives are commodified, the more they are commoditised and the more our individual humanity and autonomy is eroded.
Digitisation provides the leap forward to enable any facet of one’s personality (including political and religious beliefs) to be scanned and recorded in a durable medium such as a barcode.
The implications for this are as yet untapped and if history shows us anything, actors – whether governmental or business – will inevitably surface to exploit and monetise the opportunities presented.
That our data value is purchasable – as with NHS patient data – has in the last few years begun to bother some politicians. Jeremy Corbyn led his 2019 general election campaign on the issue.
Yet that is not the root concern at issue here. If the healthcare services want to pass on my data in an anonymised format to improve medicines and related services – I have worked with an NHS Commercial Directorate and they are hyper-vigilant about secure handling of patient data – so be it.
It’s the use of one’s personal data such as spending habits, vaccination status, mask wearing and beliefs and affiliations, to rate their or rather, your, worth, that I object to and worry about.
It is this that turns us from unique individuals into fungible products, categorised and indexed, rated against each other using such barometers as political ideologies, compliance, health and spending habits, and our future actions predicted with a fair bit of certainty.
What useful information this already is for life insurance companies, credit cards, banks, mortgage and pension providers as well as employers and politicians – not to mention those big tech platforms who already decide what we can say and publish and what we cannot.
I recently saw a video uploaded to Telegram from an AI system in China where each person walking down the street has a little black square indicating what I could only assume is their social credit score. The score is continuously updated in real time.
Presumably by tracking your phone, the AI bots can log everything you do. Cash isn’t really used in China these days. It is all digital payments with QR codes over smartphone apps.
Aside from the creep factor of continual surveillance, the surging connectivity and accessibility provided through online traffic speeding over ever-faster bandwidths in the last two decades has produced the type of intrusive system used by the Chinese government to control its population.
This is capable of measuring and assessing people, leading directly to the conclusion that human life itself is totally devalued. Labelled with boxes and graded under an all-seeing algorithmic eye, if we in this country, can’t yet be bought, sold and discarded, we can already have all our human activities delimited or proscribed.
A couple of days prior to the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, US President Joe Biden told the American people they were facing a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’.
Issuing an order for companies with a workforce of more than 100 to require employees to be vaccinated, he said the shot is ‘not about freedom or personal choice; it’s about protecting yourself from those around you’.
Biden went on to say that the unvaccinated should ‘do the right thing’ so as to protect the vaccinated (begging the question of why the vaccinated need protection if the shot is so effective). You can view his chilling speech here.
In his new medical apartheid not only does your very right to work depend on compliance with vaccination, so does your freedom to escape censure. Already America’s one-third unvaccinated population have been blamed for the 300 per cent rise in cases there. Soon, further booster shots will be required to keep your other rights.
This is all now openly reported and apparently accepted by mainstream media outlets, and no longer the purview of the fringe fanatics. The vaccination drive in the West now brings us face to face with Chinese-style surveillance, data mining and an inevitable commodification of humanity.
Perhaps the leader of the Free World for once was being honest – this isn’t about your personal freedom, to which you no longer have a right. Rather, it’s about the State stripping away your individuality and turning you into and treating you as no more than a product, that can be tracked, stamped, microchipped, exchanged, replaced and eventually discarded once your data has been mined and monetised.
After you agree to be jabbed for the sake of a government plan, with your self-respect having gone out the window along with your bodily autonomy and your capacity to resist, there won’t be anything left that’s not been taken.
But, as journalist and former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney put it on the Jeremy Vine Show: ‘I want to be more than a walking QR code.’
I refuse to become one, or to be turned into a product slave or to play any part in a mass dehumanisation programme that capitulation to vaccination will bring.