He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, or Welcome to the Panopticon. A Report from the Near Future

1280px-Cameratoezichtcentrale_politie_nederland.jpgThe utter subjugation of the populace didn’t happen via secret police and mass executions as in Stalin’s Russia.

No, it was much more subtle, occurring bit by bit, drip by drip, a boiled frog phenomenon.

It all started, seemingly innocently, with Student Longitudinal Data Systems, or SLDSs. These were database systems into which were entered all of a student’s information–grades, disciplinary actions, attendance records, health records, demographic and economic information, standardized test scores, and so on.

The Department of Education, with a big grant from a billionaire donor, rolled out the national educational reporting system, run by a private corporation, Elenkos, in a “public/private partnership.” This, in effect, made that corporation the gatekeeper for all educational software in the country, for no one could sell a new online textbook product that didn’t interface with the reporting system, so Elenkos got to decide who could play and who couldn’t. This proved to be enormously lucrative and a semi-effective means for thought control. The National Educational Reporting Validation EcoSystem, or NERVES, was followed up by retinal scanners and galvanic skin response wristbands that students would wear. These fed data about student attention to task, or gritfulness, directly into NERVES and alerted teachers when that attention strayed. These were the forerunners of the “identification buttons,” popularly known as “ID Butts,” that employers started having their employees wear–the ones wirelessly readable by the ubiquitous workplace drones that swept the floors and washed the windows and emptied the trash and inventoried supplies and so much, much else.

Of course, the national security services had bankrolled, many years before, the creation of several social media platforms to which people would post EVERYTHING about themselves, and it was a simple matter to data mine these to create extraordinarily detailed profiles of every citizen.

And then it only made sense to extend  NERVES from school to the workplace, making it easy to provide prospective employers with transcripts and test scores and other “Human Capital Management” data and to add to each citizen’s NERVES profile his or her digital badges, or microcredentials; work evaluations; and workplace time-on-task, location tracking, and other data.

And then the Social Responsibility Transparency Acts (TransActs), which followed the 2028 jobs riots caused by automation of just about everything, merged Human Capital Management data from NERVES with credit ratings and credit card records and banking records and intelligence agency social media data profiles and Armed Services records and police records and GPS location data from people’s cellphones to produce the Social Credit Index, or SCI, which had as it motto,

Scientia potentia est.

How difficult, in comparison, were the jobs of the Thought Police in Orwell’s 1984. All the Ministry of Love had were spy helicopters, collaborators with the Thought Police, and two-way telescreens that watched you as you watched them. Of course, many of the designers of this totalitarian nightmare never stopped to consider that they were violating Robert’s Rule: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/2020/01/21/roberts-rule/


Copyright 2019. Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Art: Desk in one of the regional CCTV control rooms of the National Police in the Netherlands. By Sanderflight – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61293230

For more pieces by Bob Shepherd on the subject of Ed Deform, go here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/ed-reform/


About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
This entry was posted in Ed Reform, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, or Welcome to the Panopticon. A Report from the Near Future

  1. Roy Turrentine says:

    hey, Bob. Got something I want you to read. Could you fire me an email at royhouset@gmail.com so I can send it to yu?


  2. Pingback: Bob Shepherd | Praxis

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