SK: Can we talk about the Microsoft Wars now?
JS: Orwell was right. Everyone was forced to read his book and yet, it still happened. In reality, that is all anybody needs to know.
JS: <sighs> Back in 1949, an author by the name of George Orwell published a novel titled 1984. It was a look into the future and basically created the concept in society of Big Brother. This Big Brother was a government, any government really, which would watch over you like a child. Your life would be monitored and controlled 24 hours per day. The dictionary would not grow in size, but shrink, as words and thoughts were continually restricted. Anyone who possessed a thought against the government, system or the way things were being run would be turned in by friends/family/neighbors as a thought criminal.
One by one, various ministries were set up to control every aspect of life, all for the betterment of society, and most had some plausible excuse bringing them into existence. There would be monitors installed everywhere, so you were continually watched and controlled. It was one of the best- selling and most widely talked-about books of all time. Many movies were created showing various flavors of the book.
SK: Well, if everybody knew about it, then it surely didn’t happen.
JS: Not in 1984, no. The final vehicle for control wasn’t chosen until the early 1990s and it took a while to roll out globally. Sometime during 2010, the governments around the world achieved 95 percent of what they wanted. The vast majority of citizens carried with them a 24-hour monitoring device, which could be accessed remotely and would, via GPS, give a complete picture of their travels. Each one had a unique ID. Best of all, the devices were marketed in such a way as to make people think they were nothing unless they had one and kept it with them at all times.
When it became apparent that some portions of society simply couldn’t afford the devices—yes, each citizen paid for their own, and gladly…they even paid to customize them—most governments came up with some kind of ministry or program to ensure each and every person falling into the “cannot afford” category was issued one under some plausible story as “medical need” or “neighborhood watch.” This removed the poor-person-rejection-of-charity problem. Nobody felt insulted to receive the devices, since the devices allowed them to communicate with anyone at any time, as long as they knew the other person’s unique ID.
SK: Do you honestly expect me to believe that everybody stood in line to get a unique ID for the government to monitor them 24 hours per day, seven days per week?
JS: No. They didn’t see it like that. They stood in line to get the latest and greatest cellphone with video camera, GPS, speaker phone, Internet access, and every other buzz phrase marketing could think of. If you don’t know what any of that is, it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is the more applications, called apps, it had, the more people wanted it.
Each phone had to have a phone number, which was globally unique so anyone in the world could call anybody else in the world, no matter where they were at the time. It was that “anywhere, anytime” communications capability that was a major selling point. A system of assigning phone numbers to allow for international calling had been in place for many years due to the older land line system, so it was simply leveraged.
Everyone proudly carried and used their government monitoring device. There were even crime shows on television showing how law enforcement agencies could track a cellphone as long as it was turned on. What they didn’t tell you was that the phone would periodically report in even when turned off, and if certain instructions were waiting, it would turn itself back on, silently, so full monitoring could continue without the owner being aware.
The only thing that could truly stop monitoring was to remove the battery, then turn the cellphone on to drain the hidden reserve. When you did that, however, the phone was of no use.
SK: So let me get this straight—you’re saying that there was a communications network that could monitor every person in the country?
JS: No. Before the middle of 2011, thanks to some production cost reductions, it was every person on the planet living in any civilized country and even many third world countries. A basic cellphone could be manufactured and sold for under $20 retail, which put the actual production cost at about $6. Those countries too poor or with terrain too rough used the satellite phones, which cost a bit more, but leveraged cellphone components to reduce costs. Both networks were monitored by government agencies, even though commercial companies were providing the services to the cellphone owners. Even children in third world countries who didn’t have food to eat or a bank account in their name had a phone so they could be tracked.
“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
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