The Early Days of a Better Nation

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Upcoming manifestation in New York

I'm delighted and honoured to have been invited to be on a panel on 'Life in the Panopticon' on Saturday May 5th at the Cooper Union in NYC, as part of the upcoming PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature.
Tiny surveillance drones that hover and stare. An Internet where every keystroke is recorded. The automated government inspection of hundreds of millions of e-mails for suspicious characteristics. The technological advancements spurred by the computing revolution have improved our lives, but have also diminished our privacy and enhanced the government’s power to monitor us. Writers and directors who have grappled with technology’s mixed blessings join civil liberties advocates to discuss ways of preserving our freedom in an era in which we all dwell in Bentham’s Panopticon—a prison that allows our wardens to observe us at all times without being seen themselves.

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I am about two thirds of the way through Intrusion, and am impressed by the way it describes how a surveillance state may evolve.

I pickled up a (paper) copy of The Guardian today and the front page contained an article about how the government is proposing that major state databases be linked.

Is life imitating art or the other way round?

This is good news indeed. I remember Cooper Union well, from my politically conscious time in NYC, 1962-68. Its lecture series were excellent. They often served as platforms for controversial speakers who might not have been able to speak elsewhere in The Big Apple. I remember an interesting talk by Albert Ellis, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy, on the value of healthy sexual relations for a maximally free society. The Union had fine relations with The New School For Social Research (now combined with several other institutions), which played a key role in helping scholars who had to leave Germany and Austria after the Nazi seisure of power in 1933.

Hi, Ken. Just finished Newton's Wake and hope to get to Intrusion sometime next month. What other plans, if any, do you have for New York City?
If you're going to be around past the 10th, you may want to check out the Turing in Princeton conference.

Thanks Mike, but I'm only there Friday to Monday, so I'll have to miss that. My plans for NYC are seeing friends and going to Festival events!

Hi Ken, how did your talk at the PEN conference go? Good to see you mixing it with some of the big international authors! And on another example of life imitating art, here's a link to an article in last week's newspaper:

Hi little sis! I've blogged about it now.

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