After seven years of treatment of my multiple myeloma disease, I’ve had to change my care from the private sector in the UK to the National Health Service (NHS).
This change has gone exceptionally well and the expensive drugs I have been receiving will continue to be provided by the NHS.
This has lifted a big concern I had regarding continued supply of these life preserving drugs.
My good fortune with regard to the land of my birth was brought to mind when I read a piece on the more authoritarian path China has chosen to follow under its current leadership.
Today there are over 200 million surveillance cameras in China, equivalent to one camera for every seven citizens.
Facial recognition technology, along with records of individual spending, travel, Internet searches etcetera, are all being used to build up profiles of everyone.
Now what could be behind this investment into knowing ever more about individuals?
I’ve read that all this information will be used to assess each citizen to reward and punish according to individual behaviours.
Some examples I’ve read include travel restrictions on those who have been assessed as not conforming with expected behaviours.
This would result in a ban on using high-speed trains, meaning a journey that would normally take around three hours could last up to 30 hours on multiple local trains.
Going down this path offers authoritarian regimes excellent tools to control the masses.
If you do not conform to the expected behaviours, your children could suffer by not being allowed to go to good schools and universities, restrictions could be applied on overseas travel or where you can buy a house.
I’m sure you get the drift when it comes to my thoughts on how people can be managed.
This goes far beyond what George Orwell wrote in his famous book 1984.
I’ve also read that China intends to score people, comparable to how many of us are presently rated by the banks using credit scores.
This reminds me of the Brave New World novel by Aldous Huxley, written in 1931.
It was largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy.
The novel anticipated huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning and psychological manipulation.
Hopefully, this line of thought I’ve embarked upon will never fully materialise.
But the signs today, with us all being tracked by Google, Facebook and other social media companies, are not good.
It is now too late to turn back the clock, as the changes since we moved from the analogue age to the digital age are here to stay.
There are so many exciting benefits that enhance our lives today, but we need to be aware of the vulnerabilities we are exposed to.
So, back to where I started with the treatment of my disease.
I am incredibly grateful for the excellent treatment I have received since the diagnosis of my condition back in 2012.
I am also grateful that I did not have to go through a scoring process before commencing my treatment.
A final thought from Aldous Huxley: “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org