Friday, July 10, 2015

Ambiguous Surveillance: An Afterthought


Wednesday, I posted a presentation I gave on some of the implications of ubiquitous surveillance when it comes to warfare. One of my conclusions was that in the future soldiers would have to act as if they were always on camera because they could never know when this would be true or not.

The day after, I realized that the future had already arrived.

Consider the Abu Ghraib scandal. The photographs of human beings being cruelly humiliated did serious harm to America's image. I think it's safe to speculate that people who were on the fence as to whether or not to join the jihadis saw them and and made up their minds on the instant.

How did those photos get out? The guards took them with cellphones and shared them with friends. The friends shared them with other friends. It was the simplest and most natural process in the world.

We do not live in an age of ubiquitous surveillance yet. But we do live in an age where nobody can ever know for sure that there's not a camera pointed their way. And in an age of ambiguous surveillance, there's only one to keep from being caught with your pants down.

You have to behave ethically. Whether you want to or not.

And on a more cheerful note...

As always, I'm on the road again. This time I'm in Massachusetts for Readercon. If you're there, be sure to say hello.


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