Big Brother (Computer) is Watching You
Feb 03, 2011, 14:05 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mike Elgan)
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"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."