Surveillance and the New Orwellian Age: An Interview with Marc Dugain
The New Threat to Liberty


Lead in:

We are living in an increasingly speculative age as to the definition of what is human, and how far can “Big Data “go in rearranging lives, power and freedom. Marc Dugain, a prize winning French Novelist, born in Senegal, and graduate of the Institut d’etudes politiques de Grenoble,
addresses these issues in this engrossing interview that raises questions we need to have answered, and to alert men and women of good will that we must decide if we are going to allow our privacy and freedom slip away, or control it with thoughtful planning based on scientific, ethical, and spiritual questions that will define our future and reshape the definitions of who and what we are. Read this column and share it with your friends. It is that important.


The Coming Age of IT

Q: We are living in an age when IT companies such as Google, FB, Amazon and Apple are becoming larger than government in terms of power. How should we deal with this power in order to protect our freedom?


Protecting Personal Freedom

Marc Dugain: I am afraid that it is too late to protect our freedom unless we want to leave ourselves marginally in the world arena. There are a lot of advantages to being connected, and we have never been told the inconvenience if the big data companies take control of our privacy more and more, and more generally, they take control of our lives.


Dictatorship via Corporation

Marc Dugain: It is clear that we are into an undisclosed process of “soft dictatorship via corporation”. When Orwell wrote 1984 he couldn’t imagine that violent dictatorships, as the one he described, would be replaced by this system. These IT companies are so much in advance, that there is little room to resist, unless you are able to give up the internet and with it your smart phone. But who is willing to do this?


Trusting Algorithms

Q: In your book, you stated that people have Agora where people actively exchange opinions. On the contrary to this Greek tradition, modern people appear to trust their political decision to Algorithms. How do you see this trend?

Marc Dugain: The basic idea of the big data is that they don’t need the politicians anymore, as they think they are able to raise a direct democracy through algorithms by knowing anytime what we think on any political issue -and that is specifically dictatorship. All dictators state that they know what people want.


Algorithm Neutrality

Q: Many people seem to believe that Algorithm is neutral. What do you think of this neutrality? How should we make people awaken to the fact that this may not be true and that may be believing in an illusion that makes them feel comfortable? Do you think we should ask IT companies to disclose their Algorithm?

Marc Dugain: Algorithm can’t be neutral. It is a way of knowledge as polls pretend to know what we intend to think and to do. Yes, we should inquire into the deep nature of the tools with which they want to manipulate us more and more in the future.


Global Surveillance as a Reality

Q: Do you think the age of global surveillance will become the reality?

Marc Dugain: We are in this age of global surveillance and we are entering the age of predicting any bad behavior regarding society rules. Big data collect billions of pieces of information on us every day for commercial purposes. Should we interest them individually for any other purpose, like politics, for instance, they have a direct access to our lives. This is a major fact of the new American imperialism on knowing anything about anyone.


Surviving the Age of AI

Q: I think we need to answer the question of what is a human; what will the peculiar character of human beings be when we must survive this age of AI. What are your thoughts on this speculation?

Marc Dugain: Human being as a brain and a conscious… big data just considers us as consumers who want to enjoy a quiet life by spending most of our time on smart phones, computers, and playing like little robots. They want to upgrade our consciousness; they want us to obey a system which is supposed to provide them with more and more data and money.


A Future Genetically Based Humanity?

Q: I have a concern that people will be discriminated in the future in terms of genetics. What kind of existence could we face in the future if the IT industries collect all far-reaching data on us?

Marc Dugain: I am writing a novel about that concern. It will be released in 2019. I think human beings, as we currently know them, will disappear soon, to be replaced by a perfect genetic and moral standard defined by the big data and their associates. That will happen before the end of this century.

The end of interview

Surveillance and the New Orwellian Age: An Interview with Marc Dugain
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