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Big Brother (Computer) is Watching You

Feb 03, 2011, 14:05 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mike Elgan)

[ Thanks to James Maguire for this link. ]

"The 1993 sci-fi action movie Demolition Man depicted a future without violence or disorder. They achieved this, in part, by using technology to automate penalties for rule-breaking.

"In one memorable scene, Sylvester Stallone's character discovers that every time he uses profanity, a nearby machine automatically issues a citation. When he needs paper, he casually leans toward the machine and lets loose a string of salty expletives until he's got a neat stack of tickets.

"The movie was mediocre, but the vision prescient. We are in fact headed for precisely such a society, where computers instantly identify violators and exact fines, creating a new revenue stream for the enforcer.

"It starts out with innovation and experimentation. But the income quickly becomes relied upon and institutionalized.

"One common example is the red light camera. If you run a red light at any number of intersections these days, a computerized system takes multiple pictures of the act, reads the license plate, looks you up in the database and sends you a ticket, complete with incontrovertible proof in the form of several photographs. No human need be involved. No witnesses need be present."

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