The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church said that the Antichrist will run the “world wide web” and that powerful data-gathering devices are a harbinger of his arrival.
In an interview aired Monday on Russian state television, Patriarch Kirill said that the church does not oppose technological advances but warned against “falling into slavery” to smartphones.
The patriarch expressed concern that with the proliferation of cell phones “someone can know exactly where you are, know exactly what you are interested in, know exactly what you are afraid of” and that this knowledge of “location, interests, and fears” could be employed for centralized world domination.
“Control from one point is a foreshadowing of the coming of Antichrist, if we talk about the Christian view,” Kirill said. “The Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the world wide web that controls the entire human race.”
“Thus, the structure itself presents a danger,” he said.
There should be no central control center “if we don’t want to bring the apocalypse closer,” he said.
Patriarch Kirill is not alone in his fears that mass data aggregation could be a threat to human freedom, although perhaps few would adopt the language he chose to describe it.
In his classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell famously proposed the idea of an omnipresent “Big Brother” with access to information about the actions, movements, and conversations of citizens who uses this information for absolute domination.
A key difference between the contemporary situation and Orwell’s projected world is that people now surrender their data freely through social media rather than having it secretly recorded through spy networks and a ubiquitous surveillance apparatus, although the latter is not completely absent, either, and many people are unaware of how much they are sharing about themselves.
Tech giant Google has acknowledged changing Android phone settings remotely without user permission, a move criticized by experts as bad for “transparency and consent.”
An internal video from Google management leaked last May portrays the company’s vision of “total data collection.”
“It imagines a future of total data collection, where Google helps nudge users into alignment with their goals, custom-prints personalized devices to collect more data, and even guides the behavior of entire populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease,” said the Verge.
A conceptual “Resolutions by Google” system “prompts users to select a life goal and then guides them toward it in every interaction they have with their phone,” the Verge said.
Google is not the only social media company accused of overly ambitious data gathering.
Last January, Clay Haynes, a senior network security engineer at Twitter, referred to the company as “creepy Big Brother” and said that the firm “disturbs him” during a secret recording made by Project Veritas as part of their investigation into Twitter.
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