The clearest example, whose State already carries out these policies to control society, is that of China. Governments could take a cue from what is happening in China today, and use high technology to control and monitor their citizens.
The theory presents the debate as to whether some measures are taken as a matter of security and help to order the chaos of society and prevent crime, or whether they rather serve to sow authoritarianism through excessive control and using technological tools to do so.
China, the control society
In China, the police use facial identification glasses to detect people wanted for a crime. Giant screens were set up where anyone who breaks a law such as tax evasion is punished by having their face shown on the screens. If a pedestrian runs a red light, he/she is automatically apprehended and the infraction is transmitted on the screens.
There are about 200 million cameras installed in China today, there is no way to escape from them. When violating a regulation, instant messages are sent to the violators and they are also charged a fine. Besides the fact that the punishment of appearing on screens is humiliating and everyone tends to try to avoid it at all costs.
Black Mirror is no longer limited only to science fiction and is getting closer and closer to reality. The Chinese government has also implemented a scoring system to qualify for credit or travel approval, blacklisting those whose behavior is deemed undeserving of such benefits.
Some payments can even be made directly with facial recognition, and everything you wear, travel, and lodging you use is monitored and recorded.
The West on the road to surveillance and control
In the West, some of these measures are already beginning to be used, mainly to combat terrorism and identify members of Muslim groups, but what happens if, under the pretext of security – as happened in China – surveillance methods begin to be used more and more as a tool of control, rather than as a form of prevention?
The use by governments of high technology to control and monitor could result in increasingly repressive and authoritarian societies. Is this possible, or is technology – as its advocates argue – the tool of democracy par excellence? Does good or bad use depend on whose hands these weapons are in?
Michel Foucault had already anticipated in 1975 the theory of “Surveillance and punishment” in societies and institutions of control. The famous panopticon structure of the prisons of that time are translated today to the sensation of constant surveillance where we are seen but we do not see who is watching us, the invisible eye, Big Brother style, with the difference that now this surveillance is done through our cell phones, GPS, bank movements, cameras, the digitalization of our faces, and the digitalization of the way we see us. the use of state-of-the-art technologies to control and monitor.