From Jim O'Brien
March 17, 2017

Hi Friend,

George Orwell's New World

A few months ago before leaving for Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, I purchased a new GPS for the trip. It has some amazing features. One unexpected benefit is that it tracks where the car has been over the past few weeks and then anticipates the pattern to be repeated. Start the car and today's route appears even without being programed.

When I leave an appointment it anticipates that I'll be driving home and tells me the time and distance.

How does a machine know what I'm going to do without being told? To be honest it's a little frightening. It isn't paranoia to be suspicious about somebody, even a GPS knowing that much about its owner. Do we really want the Orwellian world? Is Big Brother in the GPS?

That thought was amplified 1,000 times when the Daily Beast reported that Samsung's new Smart TVs are now being programmed to listen to every word you say and send it over the internet to a third party cloud service.

In fact, Samsung has a privacy policy warning customers NOT to discuss private matters in front of their TV. WHAT?! How many people reading this have a TV in their bedroom-raise your hand-I can see you. Sorry, I apologize. Just couldn't resist.

But it isn't just your television-you may have a Smart Phone that allows you to talk to Siri or Alexa-they even have names.

Our family celebrated the birthday of a grandchild a few days ago. It was a happy occasion that was punctuated by demonstrating a new electronic device. It's called an Alexa Echo and Amazon lists several features among which is recognition of voice commands. She can even hear from across the room with far-field voice recognition. She will answer questions, read the news, give traffic and weather reports, tell you about local businesses and give sports scores.

You can even ask Alexa to tell you a joke and she will. Not a very funny one but she's still working on higher human humor.

Most of us are using computers that have a camera staring back at us. Warnings from sophisticated sources advise you to put tape over your computer's camera. But what about your smart phone or the new Smart Watch? And, of course, be careful about the new remote control airplane drones that are buzzing around your house. They have high definition cameras.

If that isn't enough to frighten you, Uber is toying with the idea of using driverless cars to deliver merchandise and passengers. I've never believed in conspiracies but now I wonder. Wikispooks says this technology can be used by the CIA to remotely control electronic steering systems in cars. You could be driving your new Tesla home from work and the government could take control of the steering, the brakes, the accelerator and even the power window controls.

That these capabilities exist is not the problem. It's obvious technology has brought the world into a new level of potential control. The government can't be held responsible for man's creative genius.

The serious problem is power in the wrong hands and technology grants an incredible amount of power. Hitler introduced blitzkrieg (lightning war) to the world and within six weeks he had conquered Europe. God granted America the ability to defend freedom with nuclear weapons.

The great threat to America may be the failure of citizens to realize the benefit of the Judeo-Christian ethic. All cultures are not equal nor are all religions.

The deeper question is where are morals learned? Does God exist? And if He does can a political party be trusted that booed God at their convention. Can they be trusted to listen to your private conversations, look inside your home and control the steering on your car? Can any man be trusted to exercise justice and reign if his rapacious desire for power does not recognize the superior power of God?

Power is not the problem-power must exist somewhere. It's the character of the one who holds the reins of power. It's ironic that the One who holds the power of the universe is the epitome of self-control. Every time you see a rainbow it's a reminder that there was a time when He restrained His power.

Further, the fruit of His spirit is self-control. The time will come when every human will use that spirit to control behavior. Until that day comes it may be wise to leave the cell phone in a box, keep the TV out of the bedroom and unplug the GPS.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien