The emerging surveillance society


It was recently reported in The Economist (9.28.2019 edition) that Google has recently achieved “quantum supremacy”. Using a quantum computer, researchers at Google have carried out in just over THREE MINUTES a calculation that would take Summit, the world’s current best classical supercomputer, TEN THOUSAND YEARS to execute. The mind boggles.

And all around us the internet, which just turned 50, as well as the Internet Of Things (IOT) continue to expand at exponential speeds.

Data collection – and mining – will become as important and as lucrative as mineral mining is today. 

In my lifetime (in the next 25 years) quantum computers will enable the following and much, much more - to happen:

  • My self driving car not only allows me to select the fastest, safest, or cheapest route (with no toll roads), it also offers me utility discounts and credits in return for me allowing it to tell me about what’s going on in the retail venues we pass along the way. (This is also the contextual future of advertsing!) For example: Loblaw’s has a sale on pork chops, Lee Ann is hosting comedy hour at Just for Laughs tonight at 9 pm, The Bump ‘n Grind’s cocktail hour has just begun and will continue until 7PM, and so forth.
  • My fridge prompts my car and "Alexa" to remind me that I’m almost out of Kub’s rye bread and Sealtest 2% milk, that both are now available at Loblaw’s, Safeway, and Shop ‘n Go. stores enroute to our planned destination, and that Mary, Patrick + Ella are coming over next week. Would I like to stop by the liquor store for some Yellow Tail Shiraz or the Korean deli for some special treats like Kim chi? While these two stops represent a detour of about 10 minutes, we would still arrive at our destination on time.
  • My closet prompts “Alexa” to remind me to launder select garments tomorrow (my usual laundry day) because some of my clothing’s sensors are registering some “body odor”. 
  • Alexa asks me how I’m doing because some of my baseline measures are varying more than the predefined variance allow for. 
  • My insurance company didn’t even call me after I had a car accident because they have all the automotive black-box telemetry data (for both vehicles) as well street videos that recorded the whole event in high definition.
  • Perception and reality have effectively merged. You can't tell if the people, the places, the buildings or the situations in the photos or video that I show you are real or not. The sheer volume of “fake news" will skew what you think, how you feel and how you respond to a real or imagined crisis - because you can't tell the difference.
  • The surveillance society will be heaven for rich unscrupulous people who love to manipulate + use others. For the rest of us it will be hell because all of the exits from the matrix have been hidden.  




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Jameson Lopp was the chief technology officer of the crypto startup casa. He is most notable for his decision to live off-the-grid, which has been written about in The New York Times by Nathaniel Popper and reprinted in the Toronto Star on April 27, 2019.

Apparently “You can disappear in 15 steps, but it won’t be easy”.

Mr. Lopp's strategy highlights are as follows:

  1. create a new corporate identity,
  2. set up new bank accounts and payment cards,
  3. carry cash,
  4. get a new phone number,
  5. stop using your (cell) phone for directions,
  6. move,
  7. make up a fake name for casual interactions,
  8. create a VPN for home internet use,
  9. buy a boring car,
  10. buy a decoy house,
  11. set up a private mailbox and re-mailing service,
  12. master the art of disguise,
  13. work remotely,
  14. encrypt devices when traveling remotely, and
  15. hire a private investigator to “check your work”.  

Bye-bye now.






I believe that advertising exists at the polar opposite of immortality. Advertising work that might take months - even years to plan, design, produce and then deploy may only see the light of day once – and then it's history. That said, I still have copies of ads that inspire me which are now 20 to 30 years old. I look at them once in a while, and can see how the media and production technology of their time limited how the type, the illustration and the photography were used. And how some turns of phrase have fallen out of favour, have changed or now mean something very different. Like “stupid”. But I look beyond all that and admire the brilliance of the core messages which still moves me. 

The other day I tripped over an article that referenced Leonardo da Vinci’s diary. It is believed that he started recording his thoughts in notebooks during the 1480s while he was a military and naval engineer for the Duke of Milan. He is widely considered to be the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. Leonardo was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.

Today, over 500 years later, we know all this (to be fact rather than "fake-news") because Leonardo da Vinci kept diaries that preserved his thoughts, insights and his thought processes for “all eternity”.    

Think of it for a minute – or two. We can enjoy his 1st hand accounts and perspectives today because he wrote his thoughts down on paper with good ink.

Nobody really knows what will happen to us after we die, but if immortality is important to you . . . publish your work offline. In books or diaries where your ideas will be preserved and can be shared with the world long after you’re gone.



Simple + Brilliant

This is the back of a cookie bag from Subway IP Inc., telling me in 35 languages that my cookie may contain peanuts.




This page is from a typical IKEA furniture assembly brochure.

35 language tip-over

While there are five pages, also in 35 languages, warning of a possible tipping hazard, the other 30 pages get the assembly instructions across without any words at all.

IKEA is the conservation conscious global flat-pack furniture design + distribution leader. Had IKEA not made a serious, long-term commitment to illustration-driven-assembly-instructions over 50 years ago, they would probably be one of the world’s largest publishers + polluters today. 



No thinking required


I love to read. I also love looking for and discovering new authors whose work takes me down new planes of thinking.

I also love meeting and surrounding myself with people, places and things that are different. They nudge me out of my habitual thought-ruts and encourage me to entertain and embrace lots of different perspectives.

While I can see why this landing page from might be attractive to some, I see another flight feather being pulled from the wings of independent thought and free will. 

It tells “readers” that their editorial team will find great books for you at very low prices. A classic “appeal to the head and the heart” copy-writing tactic. 

It tells “readers” that “Book lovers have now become practically obsessed with this concept. In many cases, they’ve downloaded hundreds of books and saved hundreds of dollars. 


  • Booklovers, like others, are obsessed with “cheap”, not "good" goods.
  • The more you buy the more you save.

Bing-book*-buying, reduces each book’s economic and intrinsic value. Each treasure becomes devalued to little more than cheap commodity status.

Over time this commoditization brings down the “value” of the entire book* category as well as the “book reading experience”.  

Sadly most of those books* will never be intensely read. Do the math. 

Of greatest concern is how this kind of social media content curating affects the choices groups and individuals make – including the value of free will and independent thought.   

*or anything else.