Loving your Servitude: Microsoft’s Kinect Console Paves the Way for In-Home Spying
By LUIS R. MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | APRIL 5, 2012
Tyranny isn’t awful only because of the mayhem it achieves, but also because of the way it spreads its tentacles before it tightens the noose around unsuspecting populations. Tyranny will come in a uniform, says a proverb. But most of the time the uniform is just the last step in the process of achieving total control in a society. Hitler, perhaps the best example of what tyrants can accomplish, did not come into power with his brown shirt goon army stomping into people’s homes. It was an incremental process that intelligently carried out a series of actions through a series of steps which ended with Germans begging for tyrannical measures in the name of common good.
The remaining time of the twentieth century after Hitler was deposed and what has passed of the twenty-first century, has seen the rise of tyranny to levels that only H.G. Wells had been able to envision. This is a sign that puppet tyrants are not the bedrock of tyranny; they are just temporary mules that make it portable throughout the decades. Although twenty-first century tyranny seems to be rooted on the same principle that originated it back in the previous two centuries — security –, this principle can only be turned into a reason for tyranny if there is a necessity for it. But it isn’t even security as a principle the main driver of tyrannical regimes. For a temporary or permanent oppressive government to take control, it uses other tools that sort of complement the loss of freedom and the advancement of an out-of-control security grid. This complement is of course technology.
It would take much longer to achieve a complete state of tyranny if the tyrants intended to impose this state of affairs through force alone. That is why the men and women behind oppressive regimes use two of their best allies to achieve their goal: time and technological advances. Incremental changes through long periods of time in a way that conditions are engineered to promote a certain scenario are better accepted by populations who are worried 24 hours a day about their security. This is the reason why a heightened environment of insecurity together with the implementation of policies that reduce freedom and deviate attention from the loss of freedom are a perfect combination to bring about the best version of tyranny in the twenty-first century. In the case of our modern society, technological dependence has taken on the role that food scarcity and conflict, for example, played in previous eras.
One of the best ways to carry out tyrannical policies is to keep a population distracted while policies are created, accepted and put in place. In an era where self-security and economic imbalances are easily distracting people from opening their eyes and seeing what is really going on, technology is now more than ever playing a monumental role in advancing the tyrannical agenda thought out a long time ago. Not only have countries, companies and individuals embraced technology as part of their daily lives, but they’ve also become dependent to a degree that is no longer a choice to simply ‘get disconnected’ from it. Financial transactions, commerce, resource management and education are just a few of the areas in which technology has become a necessary evil. The problem is that technology users for the most part only have a myopic view of what technological advancements offer. This is a problem because technology is undoubtedly a double edge sword.
When it comes to technology and its applications, the two edges of the sword are usually defined as (1) the convenience it provides to our daily lives, and (2) the type of applications it can have. One-dimensional thinking always focuses on the benefits and the convenience. In fact, these are the terms in which technology is always presented. The other side, the not so positive consequences or misuse of technology is what is always hidden from the unsuspecting public, who only understand technological advances as entertainment; the opium of a population that hurts economically, mentally and that lacks the capacity — by design — to see beyond their leisure needs. Two-dimensional or three-dimensional thinking renders new and different ways of understanding. The three-dimensional way of thinking that also sees the sharper edge of the sword, the one that easily cuts through ignorance and that allows oppressive regimes to bring about their tyranny, is always acknowledged by the tyrants, but not by technology users.
Is it convenient to have a search engine that knows what you want to search, even before you type it in? Sure it is. But one needs to ask how does the company behind the search engine achieves this and what other applications would this technology have and whether or not they’d be as beneficial as the search results, or if they are beneficial at all. Google, has publicly announced that it will use every camera and microphone embedded in computers to spy on people in order to create profiles for commercial purposes. Although that way of spying is already alarming, one must wonder what else are they going to do. Is it comfortable to have newer, more efficient appliances at home? Sure. However, it is within our purview to investigate whether the comfort these devices bring are worth loosing privacy. For example, recently, the head of the CIA, David Petraeus publicly said that that organization along with the National Security Agency (NSA) would be using technological advances to spy on people through their appliances. This by the way is not limited to the United States. In fact, as we speak, the United States is building a seven football-stadium-sized facility that will house the largest spying apparatus in the planet. The NSA is well-known for their Echelon program and their work with Fusion Centers nationwide in the United States. Both Echelon and the Fusion Centers make up the largest spying force with the capacity to operate around the world.
Is it convenient to have a communication device that allows us to talk to anyone, anywhere, as long as there is an electromagnetic signal available? Absolutely. But again, we should also know that, leaving health issues aside, cell phones are basically portable spying devices for a group of corporations whose real owners cannot sleep at night thinking of ways to learn about everything we do. Recently, both Apple and Google devices were in the news for their ability to record users’ movements and deliberately sending such information to an Artificial Intelligence-controlled hard drive or server somewhere. This information was collected without the users being aware of it, without their permission or consent. What did Eric Schmidt, Apple’s CEO had to say about it? “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Why isn’t the public able to realize that iPhones, Microsoft phones and Android Google phones can be used to do many more things besides calling someone? Because technology has become — again not by accident — the opium of the people. They have been indoctrinated and programmed by the educational systems to lose their ability to think critically and to be innovators. Historically, humans have been transformed into users instead of creators. For at least a century — in modern society — the creators are the tyrants who figured out that technology could be used to enslave while it functioned as a distraction for the decadent masses.
Just as the Romans had their gladiator fights, we have football games, TV shows and of course our iPhones, Laptops and Game Consoles. Have you heard about Kinect? If not, this Microsoft gaming platform is the mother of all spying tools for in-home usage. If you like Happy Meals or Jack-in-a-Box, you’ll love Kinect. That’s right. While we were all sleeping, the tyrants figured out a way to make us like our servitude, and they’ve done a superb job. Not only will people be distracted playing games that will either make them psychos or dummies, but they’ll also be victims of direct spying by the military industrial complex. The reach of technologies like Kinect, which are only advertised as trendy, fun devices, goes beyond what most of its users even begin to fathom. With military contractors already working on ways to ‘better’ use the technology embedded in the game console, as well as publicly saying they intend to spy on people through it to steal their information, what exactly is there inside Kinect? As explained by multiple media outlets, Microsoft’s latest Xbox 360 has:
* Four microphones — a first, according to CEO Kyle Wiens. “We’ve taken apart binaural devices before, but this is our first quadaural sensor setup!”
* Two cameras (pictured).
* An IR transmitting diode.
* One fan. Wiens says that for a 12-watt device, Microsoft seems very paranoid about heat dissipation and blames this paranoia on the infamous red-ring-of-death problems that have plagued the 360. “This is a good thing for consumers, but we can’t help but wonder if they’ve gone overboard in the cooling department,” Kyle said.
* 64 MB of Hynix DDR2 SDRAM.
* A “tiny, diminutive, even” motor (pictured).
* A three-axis accelerometer.
* A Prime Sense PS1080-A2. “Kinect is based on Prime Sense’s motion detection technology,” explains Kyle. “This chip is the Kinect’s brains —– all the sensors are wired into here for processing before transmitting a refined depth map and color image to the Xbox.”
If you are technologically challenged or simply are not interested in technical details at all, because all you care about is having fun with Kinect, you are in trouble. The Quadaural sensor enables Kinect to listen to and identify up to five different voices. The two cameras are capable of taking pictures and recording video. The Infrared (IR) transmitting diode can create and record a thermal image of people in the room, which then becomes a powerful identification tool. The 64 MB hard drive makes sure that all the information collected is comfortably stored for easy access by outside users — military spies and hackers — and the Prime Sense sensor, the brain, closes the gift list that any control freak would dream about. The chip simply detects any movement that takes place in the room where Kinect is. Sadly, this kind of technology is not limited to Kinect. Other game consoles like Nintendo Wii and Playstation already use similar components which are sold as the best way to enhance gaming experience. How thoughtful of the creators! Much like the makers of the latest television sets, satellite boxes and fridges, Kinect is simply Big Bother in a box.
Any recommendations to stave off Big Brother from coming into our houses? According to a ‘freedom fighter’, it is a good idea to “make sure you disconnect Kinect whenever you are not using it”. Really? How about not buying a Kinect? How cattle-like have people become! Have your Soda pop, but make sure you drink it only one sip at the time so that the aspartame in it kills you slowly. Buy a cell phone, but use it less often, that way the cancer will take a decade or two to appear. We have indeed become comfortable slaves who not only enjoy but actually love our servitude.
I guess H.G. Wells fell way short of what a New World Order would look like.
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Luis Miranda is the founder and editor of The Real Agenda. For more of his stories, subscribe to our article feed. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Email article ideas and insights through the Contact page.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at The Real Agenda. His career spans over 19 years and almost every form of news media. He attended Montclair State University's School of Broadcasting and also obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Luis speaks English, Spanish Portuguese and Italian.