There is yet another macabre power possessed by some satellites: manipulating a person’s mind with an audio subliminal “message” (a sound too low for the ear to consciously detect but which affects the unconscious). In trying thereby to get a person to do what you want him to do, it does not matter if the target is asleep or awake. A message could be used to compel a person to say something you would like him to say, in a manner so spontaneous that noone would be able to realize the words were contrived by someone else; there is no limit to the range of ideas an unsuspecting person can be made to voice. The human target might be compelled to use an obscenity, or persons around the target might be compelled to say things that insult the target. A sleeping person, on the other hand, is more vulnerable and can be made to do something, rather than merely say something. An action compelled by an audio subliminal message could be to roll off the bed and fall onto the floor, or to get up and walk around in a trance. However, the sleeping person can only be made to engage in such an action for only a minute or so, it seems, since he usually wakes up by then and the “spell” wears. It should be noted here that although the “hypnotism” of a psychoanalyst is bogus, unconscious or subconscious manipulation of behavior is genuine. But the brevity of a subliminal spell effected by a satellite might be overcome by more research.
“The psychiatric community,” reported Newsweek in 1994, “generally agrees that subliminal perception exists; a smaller fringe group believes it can be used to change the psyche.” A Russian doctor, Igor Smirnov, whom the magazine labeled a “subliminal Dr. Strangelove,” is one scientist studying the possibilities: “Using electroencephalographs, he measures brain waves, then uses computers to create a map of the subconscious and various human impulses, such as anger or the sex drive. Then. through taped subliminal messages, he claims to physically alter that landscape with the power of suggestion.” Combining this research with satellite technology–which has already been done in part–could give its masters the possibility for the perfect crime, since satellites operate with perfect discretion, perfect concealment. All these satellite powers can be abused with impunity. A satellite makes a “clean getaway,” as it were. Even if a given victim became aware of how a crime was effected, noone would believe him, and he would be powerless to defend himself or fight back.
And this indeed is the overriding evil of satellite technology. It is not just that the technology is unrestrained by public agencies; it is not just that it is entirely undemocratic. The menace of surveillance satellites is irresistible; it overwhelms its powerless victims. As writer Sandra Hochman foresaw near the beginning of the satellite age, though seriously underestimating the sophistication of the technology involved: “Omniscient and discrete, satellites peer down at us from their lofty orbit and keep watch every moment of our lives… From more than five-hundred miles above earth, a satellite can sight a tennis ball, photograph it, and send back to earth an image as clear as if it had been taken on the court at ground zero. Satellites photograph and record many things…and beam this information, this data, back to quiet places where it is used in ways we don’t know. Privacy has died.” This terror is in the here and now. It is not located in the mind of an eccentric scientist or futurologist. Satellite surveillance is currently being abused. Thousands of Americans are under satellite surveillance and have been stripped of their privacy. And presently they would have little or no recourse in their struggle against the iniquity, since technology advances well ahead of social institutions.