Anyone who thinks a future despotic regime might be overthrown by a plucky resistance of people in black leather jackets and berets, running around with fake passports, is brutally mistaken.
There is a reason why the Russian government, for example, has been ordering typewriters like mad.
We are moving into a state of the world where digital technology is not only the convenience, or the norm, but the only choice. In many situations, there already is no longer any analog alternative.
Even if you never touch a computer yourself. Somebody will, on your behalf.
You don't have to carry a smartphone, or any phone, to be tracked. Gait-recognition is just one of many tricks with which to identify someone. The human heart emits microwave as it beats, and a while back, somebody patented a method to identify individuals that way. We have RFID chips up the whazoo these days, even where we don't expect them.
And, quite often, putting a universal piece of commodity hardware in a device, like the USB ports in the DVRs my employer rents to our customers that don't actually do anything, is more cost efficient than to come up with something specialized. That commodity hardware will, eventually, feature pressure sensor that can double as microphones, a simple camera, satellite navigation, you name it. Your stove will have wireless. Your tumble dryer GPS. There will be bluetooth in your shoes (okay, that one'd actually make sense, with a step-counter ...)
We are fast approaching an era when, even without drones, even without the clearly visible cameras we associate with CCTV now, it entirely likely that some kind of camera will pick us up, just about every second we are out of our home. And probably in our home, too. And other sensors, quite before we start with traffic analysis and other gimmicks they can run on us.
And they will not just see what you do. They will see what you'd like to do.
Yes, you can't read thoughts or predict what a person with free will may do, yadda yadda yadda. If I asked you to imagine, say, your SO's reaction to finding a bag of weed on the porch, you would have an answer, wouldn't you. Because you know them, you know how they'll probably react.
Imagine a world where, from childhood on, everything you do has been recorded and analyzed, one way or another. By learning systems, like neural networks, that use evolutionary algorithms to build models of your behavior. Predictions from which they can test against observation, because of the all-encompassing fog of data-gathering we inhabit.
They are already using such tricks to predict where crimes will occur and cops should hang around, in Chicago and LA for example. This is only the beginning. Your smartphone may well, one day, run a background app that gathers data and analyzes it in a simplified manner, to pass stuff along to big brother in case it gets a suspicion you might be up to no good. The computer that monitors us will not be a huge, evil server farm in Utah. That's just where they will delegate from, if that. The computers that monitor us will be our smartphones, our tablets, our notebooks and desktop PCs. And smart fridges, DVRs, microwave ovens, and smart-toilets.
If they actually still do anything. I've heard enough predictions that, in the future, a consumer-device, like a desktop computer or smartphone or whatnot, will only be a client, a terminal on a network, because running everything "through the cloud" will be so much more efficient. Google already lets you use a reasonable office suite, google docs, or so I hear, without installing anything on your machine. The ongoing tests for 5G mobile internet have reached bandwidths of 1 TERRAbit per second. That's 1,024 gigabit, aka 128 gigabytes, it's as good as optical fiber. In a few decades, when the google-drones are flying overhead to provide wireless service, when the mobile-phone networks have been built up sufficiently, why not network it all? Caution, your electric toothbrush may need a reboot after doing a routine software-upgrade upon startup.
We will not just be monitored, but the very software that's the only option for us to do anything like write up a long piece of text, do graphic design, anything, communicating of course, will run on machines we will have no access to and we can be locked out of at will.
And if you're worried the government might use this for nefarious purposes, well, that may be.
But will corporations use it for fluffy kittens and rainbows?
Do you think you can still grab a beer after work without finding it on your health-insurance statement the week after? They already ARE installing monitoring devices in cars so car-insurers can better judge driver's behavior.
If you make a claim on your homeowners insurance, don't be surprised to find your policy suddenly void because you don't always remember to close your bathroom window when you go out. They WILL know, eventually.
Oh, no, we can't hire you, you're too likely to date women who are likely to cause you distracting emotional distress.
Yes, counselor, of course we'd prefer to find a settlement with your client out of court. By the way, does your husband know who you really think about in bed?
If there were absolutely anything to be afraid of, don't you think I would have worn pants?
I said I have a big stick.