Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I, Robot coming?

Here's a thought-provoking piece by Jim Amrhein, a contributing editor to Whiskey and Gunpowder. He worries about the increasing prevalence of cameras and other surveillance systems in virtually every public place in some American cities. These cameras aren't monitored in real time, for the most part, but robot or robot-like technology programmed to look for suspicious patterns might be able to do it. Could a robotic monitor's identification of suspicious behavior patterns constitute probable cause enough for the cops to swoop down and nail you before you do whatever evil deed you were contemplating? Might increasingly sophisticated technology make the whole concept of probable cause operationally obsolete?

I'm not quite as concerned as Amrhein is, but his essay raises troubling concerns worth thinking about, and perhaps talking about before the society of constant surveillance on everybody gradually becomes a reality.

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