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Is George Orwell’s vision coming true?

1948, 1984, 2030

We talk a lot about FinTech. Some of us then break it down and talk about InsurTech, WealthTech, TradeTech and more. But do we ever zoom out? What about just tech? What about just a digital world?

It’s funny as I see HealthTech, FarmTech, GovTech and more, and sat back the other day wondering why isn’t it all joined-up? JoinedUpTech … oh, that’s a thing.

It has started as InsurTech is linking with FarmTech to monitor climate, weather, crops and more. We are getting there as GovTech links with RegTech to ensure FinTech is working correctly. But it’s going to get stronger over the next decades until all digital technologies are linked together in real-time, to monitor all things in real-time.

This struck me a while ago when I heard that the Austrian financial regulator was requesting direct access to bank systems, so that banks didn’t have to do trade reporting; instead, the regulator could monitor the trades themselves. That was interesting and gave me an idea: what if all regulators could access bank systems to see if they were compliant?

But take it further. What if all life assurers could access health records to see if you were health compliant? What if all banks could monitor your overall financial position, through aggregation, to see if you were financially compliant? What if all governments could tap into your cameras to see if you were citizen compliant?

Oh no. IT’S BIG BROTHER!!!

To be honest that is where we are heading, as forecast by George Orwell back in 1948. We are moving to a world where everything everywhere is integrated and linked, in real-time, to monitor movements and activities and compliance, in real-time.

Or is it?

If we democratise everything and decentralise everything, then we would have citizen’s choice. I choose to share and I choose to allow, because I want the rewards offered. Hmmm …

My gut feeling is that, over time, the silo structures of tech that we are building today will be joined up. My gut feeling is also that, over time, the integration of digital and tech will create a new form of consumer privacy, and a requirement to allow citizens to opt out. The opt-out action will be one that allows you to avoid monitoring, but will probably impact your life by removing some of the ease-of-living in a digital world. You won’t be able to do just what you want. You will have restrictions.

In other words, in the world of 2021 or 1984 or 1948 you can resist but, if you do, you will have penalties. In the case of our modern world, the penalties are the Ministries of Truth, Peace, Love and Plenty. You will find yourself unable to do some things digitally and physically. If you avoid bank monitoring, you won’t be allowed to register to Pornhub or, if you do, your partner will know about it too; if you avoid government monitoring, you won’t be allowed to use mainstream news media as they want you to know their truth, not your truth; if your farm blocks the insurer monitoring your crops and stocks, you won’t be able to sell them to market as they need to prove your sustainability; and if you block a country from accessing digital services, maybe you will have war and no peace.

Is George Orwell’s vision coming true?

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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