The term “slippery slope” first appeared in our culture in the 1950s; and contends that some specific event can lead to a chain of related events, and then ultimately to an inevitable conclusion.
Much has been made of the National Security Agency (NSA) and our government’s ability to pull “information” from Americans (to say nothing of people from around the globe). “Information” of course alludes to everyone’s entire body of e-mails, Internet searches, phone calls, credit card receipts, Facebook comments and much more, all from now well into the future.
Equally disturbing are the ways in which telecommunication companies (ATT, Verizon, Sprint, Comcast, DirecTV) and major Internet conglomerates (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook) are able to pull much of that same data; and use this information for their own self-serving corporate needs or advantages.
(You don’t have to be a digital prognosticator to draw the inference that data from Company A [say, cell phone calls from ATT; credit card entries from Visa or MasterCard; search queries from Google or Yahoo; or posts from Facebook or Twitter] can easily find their way into our government’s digital metadata storehouse.)
Most of us, however, tend to ignore this invasion into our digital universe. After all, this encroachment hasn’t crossed the threshold into our living room or bedroom so what’s the big deal.
Or hasn’t it?
So what does this mean in English?
The average American spend more than five hours a day watching television. During those five hours — assuming you’re watching Samsung’s SmartTV with any new-or-upcoming television or gaming system with a Voice Recognition system — every conversation you have with your spouse or family or friends is duly “captured and transmitted” to a “third party”.
Whether that “third party” is an advertising or marketing firm or to some government agency — Samsung, after all, is a South Korean conglomerate — is never clarified. Simply that your private bedroom conversation is “captured and transmitted”.
Samsung and other Voice Recognition manufacturers would like us to think that they’re merely capturing your impressions about a movie or television show. They would probably be corporately “horrified” at the notion that they would ever intrude on the remarks that you hate your boss or punished your child or voiced some personal-held political opinion, all in the privacy of your home.
Yet “captured and transmitted” refers to any “personal or other sensitive information” and no amount of corporate backpedaling will change the fact that corporations are now able to record and store our most intimate and personal remarks in our last haven of privacy.
And so down the slippery slope we go.
Perhaps inevitable conclusions can best be left to theorists (political or otherwise) or science fiction writers. Suffice it to say that climbing back up the slippery slope and out of this morass is becoming hard-to-impossible.