[email protected] (Gregg) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> A good deal of the discussion was about how certain emerging
> technologies will impact the social structure. I expect to go into
> this subject here to get more input within the next few days. One
> thing which came out of these discussions is that certain classes of
> frauds, including those of scientology, will become much harder to do
> in the not so distant future.
As I mentioned earlier on this thread, a lot of a meeting last Monday was on the social effects of something which has only recently become possible to do. For obvious reasons I am not going into such details as patent protection, funding sources, interested potential customers, market surveys or the like. What I am after here and have not been able to get enough of in other geek circles is a discussion of the potential privacy and abuses problems these things present. Without mystifying you further, within the size and weight of a policeman's badge it is now possible to put an automatic camera that takes photos every second or two for an 8-hour shift--including a telephone grade audio channel. Police who have been interviewed have a good opinion of the idea, considering it to be an extension of the current use of video cameras mounted in police cars, which are trained on traffic stops. There are two features the police like. Having a record to defend themselves when falsely accused is one of them, but the main attraction is as an aid to writing reports. Reports could contain included frames and included conversation as voice-to-text as well as audio clips. A one percent improvement in the officer's time would pay for the device in a year; a 10 percent improvement would pay for them in slightly over a month. There are huge potential savings in insurance payments as well Because the devices don't have an off switch on them, there are privacy concerns for the officers. I can deal with that by encrypting the data so it is available only to the officer who carried the badge or under a court order, properly screened in that case to remove legitimate concerns about the badges being active in toilets. These devices will not stay the exclusive property of the police. In the not so distant future, the cost will drop under $100, and lot of people will wear them as a way to page back and find where they lost their keys. Wide availability of these things is clearly going to change a lot of human society. Just as an example, consider how much fun a lawyer would have with a clear record of a fraudulent verbal representation that auditing will cure you of Lyme disease. In fact, a lot of fraudulent representation would become much harder to do without getting caught. (In a recent conversation with one of the ars regulars, she told me that security salespersons are recorded on every phone call. The assumption is that the company will be sued over misrepresentation of some stock, and the stored record will either refute the allegation or confirm it-- in either case, the trial lawyers lose.) It is obvious that these "fair witness" automatic cameras will change society in significant ways. I think the results will be mostly for the good since even outright criminals tend to behave when cameras are watching. I admit though that the idea of privacy in public places or being able to travel without potentially being tracked will become outmoded concepts. In combination with automatic face recognition software these concepts could be nearly lost. Market suggestions, funding, and the like can be sent as email to [email protected], but privacy and social issues should stay on the thread. Thanks, Keith Henson