Saturday, May 16, 2020

"Hygienic Fascism"

Author Aldous Huxley once said, “A thoroughly scientific dictatorship will never be overthrown.”

Even as we try to battle the COVID-19 pestilence, we may be contracting a more dangerous virus — hygienic fascism. This involves a process when our political leaders defer to a handful of “experts,” amid what Dr. Joseph Ladopo, an associate professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, describes as an atmosphere of “COVID-19-induced terror.”

Ideologically, hygienic fascism is neither right nor left, nor is it simply a matter of taking necessary precautions. It is about imposing, over a long period of time, highly draconian regulations based on certain assumptions about public health. In large part, it regards science not so much as a search for knowledge but as revealed “truth” with definitive “answers.” Anyone opposed to the conventional stratagem, including recognized professionals, are largely banished as mindless Trumpistas, ignoramuses, or worse.
I must confess, I was surprised, most of the articles I've seen at The tend to be more on the Big Government/Social Justice Snowflakery end of the spectrum than in Rugged Individualism's neighborhood, although it is very true that I don't go there enough to be able to say that my impression of their material is conclusive.

But there they are running this article, too: Facial recognition: The other reason we may need a face mask | TheHill
Don’t get out of the hard-learned habit of covering your face, even if you live in a place that will soon no longer require it. Long after the pandemic recedes, we may still need our N-95 respirators, surgical masks and DIY bandana coverings. Marking the triumph over COVID-19, when it finally happens, should not include a bonfire of masks. This symbol of the coronavirus fight may prove just as crucial against a different foe altogether.

Also spreading fast, but largely outside of global health debates and meaningful scrutiny, is facial recognition. We’ve had Apple’s handy Face ID since 2017, of course, with its 30,000 invisible facial dots that coalesce into a phone-unlocking faceprint, but potentially more perturbing applications are already here or around the corner. Face-Six wants to reduce medical errors and fraud by promising to help hospitals “identify patients whenever necessary, conscious or unconscious.” ISM Connect has scanned crowds at Taylor Swift’s concerts to weed out stalkers and generate tour promotion metrics. Clearview AI has been used by over 600 law enforcement agencies to solve cases from shoplifting to murder. So private it listed a fake Manhattan address as its business location, Clearview AI sold a product that allows users to take a picture of someone they are curious about and obtain links to public photos and sites pertaining to this person.

The power that such apps must bestow is suggested in another purveyor’s name, iOmniscient. Its site boasts of clients in 60 countries and over 30 industries, including retail, where it measures customers’ footpaths, visit frequency and dwell time. iOmniscient “excels in uncontrolled environments with non-cooperative individuals,” which would explain its suspected use during Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests. In response to the potential surveillance, demonstrators toppled smart lampposts believed to house the technology, destroyed CCTV cameras, hid themselves under umbrellas -- and donned face masks.
These pieces are from the Opinion pages of,  not "news", but still, I'm surprised.

Maybe there's hope after all.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

In any case, going to be interesting times...