Will Keep You Safe…
One of the
most fearsome predictions made by George Orwell in his novel, 1984,
was of the development of a technology capable of monitoring people
24/7, during every waking (and even sleeping) moment of their lives.
He called it the Telescreen and through it, Big Brother Brother
(or rather, Big Brothers minions) kept watch over you.
Well, the Telescreen
is old hat both technology-wise and tyranny-wise. It was
only a two-way TV, after all. As Winston Smith himself explained,
while in theory you were watched all the time, in fact, it
was not possible to watch everyone at all times simply because
there were not enough Thought Policemen to keep track of every single
person at every single moment. Thus, you had at least a chance to
But the new
Telescreen developed by security firm BRS Labs is entirely
automated. A computer brain watches 24/7.
(and all-recording) eye never blinks.
It also thinks.
the company calls AIsight (i.e., artificial intelligence) behavior
recognition algorithms, the BRS Telescreen watches for anomalous
behavior anything that deviates from whatever norm
is programmed into its chilly, transistorized mind. Were told
it will detect cue tired catchphrase terrorists
but of course well all be subject to the gimlet eye.
Walk too slowly
linger too long
fail to move with
prima facie suspicious activity,
according to BRS. Such suspicious activity then triggers
an alert and the human warders are called in to investigate.
The first one
goes operational soon in San Franciso MUNI public transport system
where it will monitor all the people all the time. The city
has signed a lucrative contract with BRS to install the Telescreens
(well, they insist on calling them cameras) in 12 subway
stations. Each station will be fitted with 22 Telescreens (er, cameras).
There they will build memories of observed behavior patterns
that mature with time. The system has the capability
to learn from (what it) observes.
Other BRS customers
include the City of Houston, the Louisiana Port Commission, the
City of Birmingham, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
and of course the World Trade Center complex, the
very place where whatever remained of our freedoms went
up in smoke along with 3,000 human beings. No doubt the system
the grid will expand. We cant be too safe, after
all. Within a few years, it will probably be impossible to go outside
without falling under the watchful eye of AI. And why stop there?
Surely, terrorists will hatch their plots inside as well.
This will be the pretext used to get the Telescreens (cough, cameras)
into our homes. Hell, theyre already there. Most recent
model computers have built-in cameras (and microphones) that can
be turned on and off remotely, by someone not you. Many home computers
are tied into the TV, too. And most new cars also have cameras
and can connect to the outside world via GPS
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Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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