The communication technology I chose is surveillance satellites. Well described by the film ‘Enemy of the State’ mentioned during the previous lecture, it can watch over anyone, anywhere and anytime. No matter how far a person/a place is from it, it can detect and find whatever it is directed to and is barely limited to find/watch out of its ability. Through walls and buildings, it can watch over the target. Although there is no doubt that this high technology is a brilliant invention, there can be negative outcomes, mostly unprotected privacy, by people who have access to it with improper purpose of its use. Since there is no way people who are watched over can notice this technology is watching over them or escape from it, innocent people or important governmental insitutions can be exposed and detected. A surveillance satellite can threaten individual privacy and national safety at the same time without difficulties, which is obvious dystopian consequence.
Although Winston and Julia know telescreens are almost everywhere, and try to meet each other by carefully choosing places that would not have any technology that would find them being together, they are caught by the telescreen hided behind the picture at the room rented from Charrington. When frightened Winston and Julia say “It was behind the picture,” and “the house is surrounded,” the iron voice repeats them exactly what they said right away. This reflects the owner of the voice can hear and watch them clearly as if he was there with both of them. Despite of Winston and Julia’s effort on escaping from telescreens, they are caught without noticing one telescreen was already watching over them. Similar to surveillance satellites, there is no sign/trace that telescreens are watching and listening to people, and there is almost no place to escape from telescreens. Winston and Julia’s effort to avoid telescreens is so fruitless, because thought police was already paying attention to what they were doing by using telescreens. Individual privacy is hardly protected and people are exposed to telescreens without any protection or warning.
I do not think there are communication technologies which are essentially dystopian and dangerous. I believe the concept ‘fallacy of technology neutrality’ well explains negative outcomes of the technology. The technology itself does not have good or bad effects on us, but it is up to us. How we use this technology and what our purpose of using it decides what the technology would result. Surveillance satellites are a fascinating high technology and able to protect national security and individual privacy, although they can threaten both at the same time. How we use the technology decides whether there is going to be a good outcome, but the technology itself does not.