Surveillance Matrix Reloaded


Max Borders backpedals slightly from the pro–surveillance camera column that I ripped on last week. (Slightly disappointing, really, since I ran into Max this weekend and was all primed for a drag-out, knock-down argument on the subject.)

Anyway, kudos to him for keeping an open mind and offering some sound points. I'll just throw out two clarifications: First, I mentioned "stalking," but my point wasn't really that the Watchers are literally guilty of the crime of stalking—though some genuinely have been observed behaving creepily in other cities—but rather to stress that the level of potential tracking of someone camera networks enable is very different from the sort of casual observation we're all subject to by other people in public places. Second, I think it's worth bearing in mind that the sort of scare scenario I offered—using a recorded database of camera images with face recognition software to extract a fairly comprehensive record of someone's movements and behaviors over an extended period—isn't a total sci-fi pipe dream that might come about in the distant future, as in the movie Minority Report. The technology isn't quite ready for prime time, but this sort of thing is already in use, and plenty of smart people are working on improving it. The sort of thing I described is, I think, a pretty clear next step once such camera networks are in place.