On Uncertainty and the Impossibility of Total Knowledge
Even the neoliberal "hard sciences" currently accept ('t'will change ere long) that fixed absolute knowledge is impossible; Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states (in a fixed way) that both the momentum and position of any object cannot be determined at the same time. Quoting Max Born from the linked entry:
...To measure space coordinates and instants of time, rigid measuring rods and clocks are required. On the other hand, to measure momenta and energies, devices are necessary with movable parts to absorb the impact of the test object and to indicate the size of its momentum. Paying regard to the fact that quantum mechanics is competent for dealing with the interaction of object and apparatus, it is seen that no arrangement is possible that will fulfill both requirements simultaneously...
I.e., in order to determine exactly where an atom is and what it is doing is impossible with absolute precision, because--again, even as neoliberal hard sciences currently accept it--to focus inward on the atom's position with utmost "precision," as we may know it currently, disregards enough about its movement that the information gained about such movement is reduced in precision. To focus on its momentum means no longer knowing where, exactly, it "is."
All very well and good, as the saying goes. This is life's chaos, refusing to be fixed. Focus in too excitedly on the atom, and you won't be able to figure out exactly where it's going (even if you can narrow it down as far as a few quarklengths away); pay too much attention to where it's going, and you won't know where, exactly, it was two nanoseconds ago. You might be off by a string.
Mainstream scientists' acceptance of this tidbit, from which they refuse to extrapolate any worthwhile tangible policy, won't last forever. Eventually, humans will develop more advanced machines and more simultaneously advanced and interpretive equations that will allow them to believe they know both things at the same time, and a new breed of theoretical physicists will proudly consign Heisenberg's principle to the anecdotal history in the first-year coursebook.
The quest never ends for antilife, though. In order to quiet and kill all things, and reality itself, everything must be known. And to be known, it must be fixed in place, and to be fixed in place, it must be dead, and to be properly dead, it must not be the good kind of decaying, natural, renewing death, but the evil kind of out-of-the-stream antilife death. Fearful minds, in driving subconsciously toward that goal of a quiet everlasting nothingness that has always and never not been there, seek out ways of knowing what's going on--knowing everything, so that in the end, they can control it.
Ergo things like Total Information Awareness: attempts by evil, self-destructive elite states to know everything that's going on, how it's going on, when it went on, what will go on, et cetera (Chris Floyd wrote in detail here about these growing programs of information gathering circa 2008). Only a madman would want that kind of mass data assembly, yes, but then, these are the same people who do this, like, every day:
As was once said, God Bless America. We already know what will be done with any extra "intelligence" gained by the American government, or any of the other elite "states" that may adopt new "names" or "boundaries" in any years still remaining.
Acquisition v. Analysis
Right now, evil humans are working on ways to know everything that's going on. The primary problem with "total information awareness" schemes has been acquiring the information used as a justification to kill, imprison, terrorize, and otherwise continue the process of wiping out humans and life. Not yet having been able to afford spies in every single molecule of world airspace, governments resorted to what spies they could afford, along with social controls, propaganda to frighten people into snitching on one another, and stuff like wiretapping. Now, as the internet dominates world communication, and economic and spatial boundaries have otherwise severed most people from one another's thoughts and lives, the government can count on its corporate arm (or vice versa) to maintain timeline-style databases of everything ever put on the internet. Every thought, every IP address, every whisper.
The problem then moves to one of analysis. Much as humans using the internet may become overwhelmed by the total number of potential links gained in response to a search query--even a very specific one--the government will face the problem of having enough spies to evaluate the total information.
Where, buried in every single Facebook status update, tweet, blog post, recorded phone call, et cetera, will the right reference be to the right clue that the terr'ists were using to communicate antistate thoughts and messages? The amount of information now easily (at massive expense to the tax base, but remember, to them, that is the definition of easy) accessible to elite security forces is massive. The problem shifts from one of acquisition to analysis: who figures out what's important, and who to crush, who to intimidate, and who to ignore?
Here waits the new form of life. Continued in Part 2.