Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cameras In Every Surface, and Eyes In The Sky

I've already posted on the coming possibility that audio visual sensors could soon be a built in part of any objects outer surface, while being nominally undetectable.

Lest we forget, there is also the problem of eyes in the sky. And in this case we're talking military quality sensing platforms that can sense with very large pixel sizes, combined with synthetic aperture types of digital processing, to be able to continuously scan very large areas in real time.

It turns out that the rules governing the use of this high tech surveillance gear are not nailed down as with those governing signals intercepts, to an alarming degree. Which puts us into a not very good place to be, especially when a de facto ex President hasn't been made to realize that fact yet.

As the article linked below from Foreign Policy indicates, such aerial technology is red meat for authoritarian rulers precisely because of its ability to track the movements of people with great precision, and relative eaze. Which is, certainly, no more than an extension of the concerns we should have for what might happen if authoritarians could surreptitiously supplant certain building codes so that as many inside, as well as outside, walls as possible were pre infused with audio visual sensors.

Given enough processing power one could conceive of a software system that could create an entire digital representation of all interior, and exterior space in a given city. Using the realtime input from the synthetic aperture probes from above, combined with all of the surface area probes, everyone thus contained in that city would be no more than bugs under a microscope. Not something I like contemplating, I can tell you.

My first post on the probes in walls thing was focused primarily on what we might be able to do with continuous, contiguous coverage of our lives, if we were in control of things, and we could control, very carefully, how this data was collected, and protected. Done from the framework of each individual getting their own constant life recording, it could create a number beneficial options for us in not only keeping track of what we do; getting help from personal AI first perhaps, with an AI dedicated to our best interest; not to mention as a method, through proper legal safeguards, of determining specific points of fact (again first through impartial AI) in regards to criminal activities, all without revealing anything else of detail at all.

If you are sceptical of that you should be. Sometimes it's the stuff that offers the most tempting benefits that also presents the greatest dangers.  Just off the cuff you can see that what I outlined in the paragraph above would make breaking any law very much more difficult, and there's a body of argument that suggest a free society needs to make room for people to break the law if it truly values that freedom; the idea being, of course, that it is often the rule breakers that make us either aware of, or disallow us to ignore, a much greater breach of morality.

The main point here is to be aware of these new capabilities, and then to ask what might we do about it. You know where I stand on how fundamental change is required if we're ever to have any lasting say, but in the meantime, get in touch with your representatives in Washington and let them know what you think should be done to better nail down domestic drone surveillance. And keep asking those deeper questions.

The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of