The past two stories in Nature's "Futures" column have both been in reference to a futuristic society in which certain aspects of life (photography and weapons manufacture, respectively) are monitored automatically via computer, ala failsafe. In the first, guns turn against their owners and start deciding who gets shot based on entries in a police database-in-the-sky. In the second, all photographs are stored online (by requirement) for some reason - and darkroom procedures hence outlawed, a compromising picture of a government official appears in a chemistry lab.
It vaguely reminds me of the Cybermen; the little ear-bud phone service that turns against you, hijacks your brain, and turns you into an automaton. And I wonder what the fascination with such dystopic futures is. At one point, progress was considered universally good, we were on the path to utopia, and so forth. Now it seems more imprinted on the common imagination that we are descending into a police state, that our parents were freer than we are and we are freer than our children will be, and that there is no turning back on this irrevocable path. When did we go from Marx, with the revolution being imminent, to Mill, with no more revolutions and the gradual death of our species from lack of freedom, argument, and passion?
EDIT: I know the answer to that question is, potentially, when Marx's communism turned into just such a controlling police state.