The surveillance society marches on


In Vernor Vinge’s novel A Deepness Upon the Sky, a sure sign that a civilization is going to end is the emergence of ubiquitous surveillance and law enforcement.  If that postulation  is correct, then the recent surveillance technology deployments in Chicago are not a good sign:

A car circles a high-rise three times. Someone leaves a backpack in a park. Such things go unnoticed in big cities every day. But that could change in Chicago with a new video surveillance system that would recognize such anomalies and alert authorities to take a closer look. On Thursday, the city and IBM Corp. are announcing the initial phase of what officials say could be the most advanced video security network in any U.S. city. The City of Broad Shoulders is getting eyes in the back of its head.

5 thoughts on “The surveillance society marches on”

  1. Oh, that’s dandy. I drop somebody off in a place without parking, orbit the block a couple of times while they run an errand, and I get arrested.

    Only in America!

  2. I think, though, it’s human nature to resent being watched. Nobody wants to be caught picking their nose in the car or sitting at their computer skyping in their underwear (believe me, been there on the last one).

    Not to mention, everybody would abuse this if it were possible. How many of the monitors would use it to check up on the kids or their wife or boyfriend to make sure they’re not doing anything ‘bad?’ Watching the watchers is good in theory, but I don’t think it’s very possible.

  3. Jeremy; I’ll leave the obvious question (i.e. how did you get caught Skypeing in your underwear) well alone …

    … and instead say that Brin’s model actually handles that issue – in that non-public cams would cost a small fee to stream from, but public cams (streets, &c) would not. Seriously, The Transparent Society is well worth a read. There’s a lot of political issues that Brin and I would have to agree to disagree on, but I can’t fault the logic of that book.

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