George Orwell’s 1984 Tech Predictions That Came True

Today we are leading a life revolving around technology products in all form — keeping data in cloud, call in smartphones, talking via a watch or driving without a steering wheel. Let's go through Orwell’s predictions about future that have come true and understand how these are predictions will further consolidate themselves.
be-in-the-loop - George Orwell's 1984 Tech Predictions That Came True

Today we are leading a life revolving around technology products in all form — keeping data in cloud, call in smartphones, connecting via social network, talking via a watch or driving without a steering wheel. 

Let’s go through Orwell’s predictions about future that have come true and understand how these are predictions will further consolidate themselves.

be-in-the-loop - George Orwell's 1984 Tech Predictions That Came True

Big brother is watching you

The continuous surveillance which currently takes place in your home, office, on roads happens through hidden telescreens and mikes. Monitoring people is today done via cameras installed at public places, online monitoring of content that is passing through the network node.

Though Orwell did not use words like “camera on telescreen”  in the book he did mentions that all telescreens are powered with the ability to look into every corner of the room they are installed in. Theses screens are always-on and even its owner was not able to change the direction TV is facing ot switch it off.

Monitoring people is today done via cameras installed at public places, online monitoring of content that is passing through the network node.

Electronic document management systems

The book describes a digital document drawer with display screen. When Winston Smith dialed “back numbers” on a telescreen and called for “appropriate issue of Times,” the pneumatic tube “slid out” the required document in a few minutes.

be-in-the-loop - George Orwell's 1984 Tech Predictions That Came True

Today, electronic document management systems are common. Even a file manager folder drawer is the basic form of electronic drawer where we can search for needed documents. 

Tightly Controlled Media Environment

Whatever has been printed cannot be erased, whatever is recorded for TV or AV media stays as it is till destroyed. That needs physical search of text or data- difficult task indeed.

If all content is in on Internet, the problem of that comes with searching it no more exists. In online media every text can be replaced easily. All such websites can be searched for showing the text and can either be blocked or the text could be erased.

A look at the Google Transparency Report would indicate that content removals requests asking to block access to content with allegations of defamation, local laws prohibiting hate speech or adult content, are received and complied.

As the importance of the Internet grows, more systematic attempts will likely be made by the government to exert control over Internet content.

Automatic Speech Recognition

Orwell’s ‘speakwrite’ is a mic which transform speech into text and written. Today almost every device comes with speech-to-text software or virtual assistant. Apple has Siri, Windows have got Cortona, Android has OK, Google.

be-in-the-loop - George Orwell's 1984 Tech Predictions That Came True

There are software like  SpeakWrite, a  service  that listen to what you say and convert it to written text, Dragon Dictate, a speech recognition software that let you dictate documents, search the web, email and more on your computer.

Reading Memory

Orwell mentioned that he telescreens were capable enough to look at the facial expressions which could reveal what is in one’s mind. It was important to keep the faces expressionless and even control breathing.

Today, there have been some developments which we can call a beginning on mind reading. US military’s project making binoculars that read the user’s own subconscious brainwaves to help identify threats from afar. These gadgets can take multiple images with each scan and feed them to a software program to identify potential threats from a distance.

Versifactor

Orwell’s Versifactor was mechanical song composer that could make songs without human intervention.

We get a list of software called music composers that churn out new music and pre-fed voices today. For instance, Garage Band app can produce music without the need of other musical instruments. This app turns a mobile device into a full-featured recording studio. 

Missile detection system

be-in-the-loop - George Orwell's 1984 Tech Predictions That Came True

Proles, the working class of Oceania, had some kind of knowledge that a missile is coming several seconds before the rocket lands.

Current Missile Detection System provides early detection of the incoming object and is able to destroy it with a faster missile.

Pre-written messages

Orwell did not mentioned  email messages, but he described in detail “printed postcards” which has got a list of pre-written messages. 

Look at it as a pre-written SMS or a document or email format that we use today, the signature that we put on in an email. 

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