I don't watch a lot of TV but I admit to thoroughly enjoying PERSON OF INTEREST. Beyond the acting and all that it entails is the underlying premise; a computer program that has been written to access all databases and make projections that something is about to happen to a particular individual (Person of Interest). At that point our protagonists insert themselves into the picture and attempt to prevent an unforeseen tragedy or death.. The various protagonists interventions are okay but not the fascinating part.
Let us assume that INDEED, elements of our government wish they did have a computer tapped into all kinds of databases to prevent possible attacks. Certainly the Patriot Act was the beginning.of an attempt to do just that. So the underlying premise, a desire for a computer program that can predict future events, is a very real desire and we continue to see it in our government. Can you begin to feel a little paranoia? I can.
While I don't think the government yet has an effective program able to do what the program is able to do on Person of Interest, I certainly believe that the government is working on EXACTLY that type of program.
Are there people in the government that would use a computer like that for selfish purposes? ABSOLUTELY!. Can safeguards be put into place that would guarantee it would not be misused?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. That is the problem. There is No Way to build a computer program with access to incredible amounts of details about everybody's lives that would never be used for evil.
The problem is this:
The programmers are not beyond evil
The architects of the plan are not beyond evil.
The users of the program are not beyond evil.
The administrators, assistants, aides, and clerks are not beyond evil.
Any number of people would be tempted to use the program to enhance their lives at the expense of others and NONE of us are beyond evil.
What this computer program is ultimately about is providing to it's users an UNBELIEVABLE TEMPTATION to have god-like power, to decide life and death, sickness or health, poverty or riches.
There would be no fail-safe device that could ultimately prevent this program from actually doing the exact opposite of what is was designed; instead of doing great good, it would INEVITABLY do the exact opposite; great evil. That is the history of human behavior; great evil done in the name of the greater good.
As the ancient Scriptures say, "the heart of man is desperately wicked; who can know it?"
So at this point, I look forward to the next season of Person of Interest. Already the plot has acknowledged the potential for great abuse and what the writers of the show will come up with should be interesting.
Finally, our ultimate protection against a machine like this is actually the fallibility of human nature. Our lack of integrity, overwhelming pride, greed, and desire for power means the engineers, programmers and builders will continually be sabotaging each other in their attempt to attain pre-eminence over others thereby mutually thwarting their own selfish ends.
A successful conspiracy requires truly righteous people. But righteous people do not engage in conspiracy.
Therefore all conspiracies are doomed to fail because of the inherent fallibility of pagan men.
Theoretically, the machine could be built; realistically, it won't.
The New Tower of Babel will not be built. I don't think God will let it.