Obama's victory: some in tech don't like it

Does anyone remember the fears that elections could be bought through technology?

I have just arrived in that Europe place, where, just as in America, few are indifferent.

Happy, sad, angry, amazed, disbelieving, numb. These would be a few of the words that might describe reactions to Senator Barack Obama's decisive victory against John McCain.

However, it's easy to let today's strong feelings mask yesterday's. In previous elections, there was much concerned discussion (on the losing side, naturally) about machines that could be programmed to steal the vote.

Voters would walk up, touch screens and, thanks to a little venal hocus-pocus, their choices might allegedly be made to disappear by those who favored one side or another.

Those thoughts appear silent today, partly because the race wasn't close, and partly, perhaps, because enough people decided that this was a time to assert themselves and their views, regardless of the technology that was being used to hear their voices.

Negative thoughts about paperless machines recording votes might also have reflected a wider view of technology's potential for a more embracing control of both individuals and society.

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I hate to mention Google at this point (well, not 'hate' exactly) but what will it do with all our information? How long will it REALLY keep hold of it? And who will be monitoring whether the company keeps its word?

Then there's the folks who will own your particular cloud, one that will increasingly store more of your inner depths and secrets? Can you trust them?

Technology has, in the last very few years, allowed far more people to express themselves to a wider audience than ever before.

However, certain people with high technological skills are spending many of their days trying to find ways that technology can control humanity rather than enhance it.

Perhaps some simply believe machines are a little more interesting than humans. Perhaps they look forward to the day when machines replace humanity.

Yet there are some who have slightly more cynical and nefarious intentions.

Today, a day when there is much concern about the UK Government storing every single email and web visit in a giant database, there are many real and ordinary people in America who feel slightly reassured that no technology (yet) can stop their voices being heard.

 

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