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Thursday, 15 August 2019

Love-Knowledge-Power (8): Identity

For many centuries, knowledge was a privilege of the wealthy. This explains why nearly all famous scholars and scientists came from wealthy families. Some people even believed in a conspiracy  between "the King" and "the Pope" against workers: “If you keep them stupid, I'll keep them poor" (eg, Google booksHistorisch Nieuwsblad, humucontweet).

By suppressing knowledge and wealth, the Power domain (then: Money, Politics, Religion) was able to create so-called "ignorant masses" and pluralistic ignorance. However, identity is much more difficult to suppress. Human identity is derived from a loving family and/or tribe. Urbanization (2000 BC - onwards) has however become a threat to a person's identity. 

The rise of social media, like LinkedIn (2002), Facebook (2004) and Instagram (2010), has created a global surge in identity profiles. Some of these identities gained power by spreading their knowledge. Other identities were undermining power by spreading disinformation (eg, my 2016 blog Fake news). Also see my other blogs on Identity vs Power.

The flipside of our online identity profiles is slowly becoming clear:
Wired, 24 June 2019: "Facebook knows more about you than the CIA";
- TechCrunch, 2018: "Facebook knows literally everything about you".

Chinese equivalents of Western social media are part of China's 2020 Social Credit System. Chinese - and Western - (online) identities are essential for a government in gathering knowledge about us and exerting power over us. The future regulation and operating licence of Big Tech will - most likely - include data sharing agreements with governments.

Our online identities are becoming a weapon against us (eg, tracking cookies). That is why some - allegedly "paranoid" - people are living "off-the-grid": "without the support of remote infrastructure, such as an electrical grid", including the internet that keeps track of all our online activities.

Currently, electronic tagging is already common for cats, dogs, cattle and some criminals. I expect that paper-based passports will (soonish) be replaced by radio-frequency identification (a.k.a. RFID) technology and biometrics (eg, microchip under our skin, NCBI-2012). Future humans may be like today's cattle and "resistance will be futile".

Powerful suppression of identities is never a solution. It will only create even more radical identities. Using advanced technology for mass surveillance makes it easier monitoring and suppressing people. Knowledgeable people will, however, always find solutions for fooling powerful authorities. Identity has become a contemporary example of a philosophical belief.

Powerful People (1974) by Gino Vannelli

Look at the powerful people 
Stealing the sun from the day 
Wish I could do something about it 
When all I can do is pray

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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