I could see it happening at some point. So many of the technologies that we believe – on balance – promote freedom rather than control, could be turned against us as individuals, presumably for the sake of the greater common good.
Our world is becoming transparent, on record, searchable. Typically what we we’re getting is greater freedom, but greater responsibility and accountability, too. At the moment we don’t really have to think too much about the responsibility part – not in a fundamental sense, like in terms of water, energy or food.
Rather often, though, when you look ahead, the prognosis looks like major crunch. Getting through a period of true crisis could change the technological balance dramatically. If things get tight, it would seem very easy to slip in the directions of a lot more control and disciplin. Not necessarily enforced from above as such, rather a general feeling that everyone should pitch in, that we can’t tolerate hogging ressources or behaving in a blatantly anti-social way. Central planning and common standards could be enforced like never before. Hitting the wall in terms of ressources we would face an installed instrument of pervasive control. It might even work – but I’d rather that we find ways to maintain some slack in time.