Friday, November 29, 2019

Book Review: 'The Second American Revolution: Tech Tyranny and Digital Despots' by Liberty Nation (Multiple Authors)

The Second American Revolution by Liberty Nation

The consequences of the age of high tech proliferation

Liberty Nation is a syndicated radio show and resource for political discussion and articles. The authors of this penetrating book are Tim Donner, Founder and President, and Lessa K. Donner, the Editor in Chief – both with credentials in broadcast journalism. 

Rarely does a day go by without someone somewhere positing the fear of the world of economics, politics, and personal privacy, whether that be in neighborhood conversations over coffee (too rare these days) or on the ballast of social media overkill (too common these days). Spam emails, threatening requests for contributions for ‘political fund drives,’ robo calls, invitations to ‘join like personal groups’ on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, etc. etc. etc. – these inundations have become part of our existence today.

The authors of this book address these problems, as they outline in the Introductory comments: ‘It’s been almost two decades since the calendar hurtled us into the 21st century. At the turn of the century, people mused about what would become the most precious of commodities in the coming age. Would it be money or power? Might leisure time develop into the new gold of the future? Few surmised the most sought-after luxuries would be privacy and freedom of speech. After all, Americans have the US Constitution. With amazing prescience, our forefathers covered such liberties. Been there, done that. Right? Not so fast. Very few predicted the mega power that technology would wield over every aspect of our lives. Within seconds the world’s knowledge is at our fingertips…But this staggering level of convenience comes at a cost…What are we willing to trade for our privacy or for the right to say what we think in the public square? Are we destined to live under the faceless despots known as algorithms? Are we willing to live beneath the jackboot of a high-tech Gestapo that is more than capable of censoring our every word? With this continual technological meddling, are we doomed to a frightening future?...’ 

A significant quote by Arthur C Clarke sets the tone – ‘Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows our of the other, and we need them all.’ The authors discuss all aspects of the demise of privacy at the hands of ‘home assistants’ (Alexa, Siri, Echo), sensors and surveillance cameras nearly everywhere, ‘smart’ devices that absorb personal data, facial recognition software, biometrics, computer variations – all of the ‘strange advances’ that movies and television series now incorporate as the real world strategies – and place these and many other concepts before the reader to contemplate. Yes, at times the discussion is a bit extreme, but the discussion needs to take place to reassure us that we are informed of the status quo. Disconcerting at times, but important and relative, this is a book that deserves wide exposure. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.