Today I watched another of the videos for week 2 of the #edcm course. It was called Plurality and depicted a society (2023) where we were monitored through our DNA. It was George Orwell’s 1984 all over again except with more modern technology.
It is a little frightening because I can see a world like this existing. Perhaps not in my time but not that far off. It might seem unlikely but I imagine ipads, mobile phones, ATMs and grocery home delivery would have been unimaginable to our grandparents when they were young.
The course asked us the following question: To what extent do you think Plurality’s depictions of the impact of surveillance technologies are relevant to social and educational practices today? I think they are extremely relevant as people are concerned about privacy and the amount of time they feel they are under surveillance.
This article on the BBC shows how concerned we are. There are generally two sides to this. The “if you haven’t got anything to hide what’s to worry about” brigade and the other side where individuals feel that we have the right to go about our daily lives without being watched. There are also concerns about what happens to all the information that is gathered. I am not sure where I stand. I sort of agree with both sides. I don’t want to see the levels of surveillance we see in Plurality but I also see the benefits of monitoring and surveillance (crime prevention, sense of security etc) However the important thing is to keep the debate alive as this will be the way that we prevent society from reaching the surveillance levels seen in Plurality. Human rights activists are sometimes seen in the UK as “whingers” with nothing better to do. But we always need both sides of an argument to be heard so that a balance is maintained.
I was amazed when I recently joined the world of education and started working in an Academy. We have access to all sorts of data, attendance, rate of progress, current results etc. Education seems to have become very data focused. I can imagine one day having a central record on each of us which contains information on every aspect of our lives. Again, I sit on the fence on this. Like surveillance I don’t have a major problem with it in theory. My biggest concern with surveillance and monitoring is the intention behind it. If they are good then fine but if not………. This leads to other questions though. Who decides what the purpose of collation is and who decides what are good intentions and bad intentions.
Ultimately I think that society will deal with these issues as we as a society and technology evolve. Just as long as we can keeping talking, uncovering and debating.