Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sun Apr 02 2000 - 04:07:06 MDT

Zero Powers wrote:
> >From: "Mike Steven" <>
> >
> >Michael S. Lorrey <> wrote:
> > > > > Number of cameras necessary to cover every square meter of the dry
> >land
> > > > > on the planet:
> > > > > 20,000,000,000,000, or 20 trillion cameras
> <lots of ranting about the non-feasibility of ubiquitous surveillance
> snipped>
> It might help to keep in mind a couple of things:
> There are lots of ways to skin a cat. Ubiquitous surveillance does not
> necessarily mean that there will be a Sony camcorder installed every square
> 20 feet all over the surface of the globe, or that the cameras which are
> deployed will necessarily be constantly recording every minute of every day.
> It would make more sense to have only 1 or 2 cameras per person (worn on
> the wrist--watch style, or perhaps following you around like a gnat, or
> pointing at you from satellites overhead, or perhaps any one of several
> other ways). This would limit the cameras now to approx. 12 billion max
> (*significantly* less than 20 trillion).

Hardly. You are falsely assuming that *everyone* will willingly wear
these nannybots, especially criminals or former criminals, or those with
criminal intent. Without an overall system of surveillance to crosscheck
against the voluntary system, you have no way of knowning who is
actually wearing a realy system or just a fake system, much as many
people don't have real security cameras today, just fake cameras with
blinking lights.

You run into the same conundrum of the gun control people (which is not
surprising, since you seem to have the same mental failings with regard
to that issue as well) who falsely assume that those who are criminals
or who have criminal intent will obey all gun control laws.

> Moreover if you fixed it so that the cameras only started "rolling" when the
> subject did certain specified activities (say, communicating or interacting
> with a person, computer or near-anything device) you could save oodles of
> recording time (and storage space).

I'm sorry, but this is totally false. You need something to be analysing
this video feed to make the determination that a subject is doing
certain activities, which implies computation, and bandwidth allocation,
as well as memory buffering.

> But probably the biggest thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about
> tomorrow's problems, tomorrow's solutions and *tomorrow's* technology. So
> even if this type of surveillance is not available with today's technology,
> that has little bearing on whether it will be feasible when its needed. And
> once we get to, or even close to, the singularity *all* bets are off
> regarding what technology will and will not be able to do.

Tomorrows technology will operate by the same physical laws as our
current technology. They may be more capable, more compact, maybe even
less expensive (note: Moore's Law does not dictate lower prices. Lower
prices are a consequence of obsolescence), but they will still have
limits. Beleiving that the future will solve all of your problems is
just one more type of millenial faith that is no different than

> Lastly, for those on the list who just absolutely *can't* wrap their minds
> around the fact that a great deal of the surveillance technology we have
> been discussing is, if not available today, just around the corner, I might
> suggest this sobering book:
> _The End of Privacy : How Total Surveillance Is Becoming a Reality_
> by Reg Whitaker & Reginald Whitaker

And while they are talking about advanced concepts, they don't discuss
the costs, or the cost effectiveness of the 'technologies' they talk
about. Of course, they can't otherwise their arguments would be out the

This dovetails with the other thread wondering why early futurists of
the 20th century were so pro-space and now most futurists have all but
given up on space. Its all a matter of attention to economics. The
futurists of the early to mid 20th century were absolutely convinced
that by the beginning of the 21st century that we would have practical
faster than light propulsion technology, that a large percentage of the
human race would be living in space, on the moon, or on another planet.
Why did they feel this way? Because they used a graph plotting out
increases in technologies of velocity, much as many extropians and
transhumanists trot out plots of Moore's Law and other graphs today, to
show that they expected a manned space station by 1972, a moon base by
1980, a Mars base by 1990, and interstellar probes by 2000. All of their
expectations turned out to be false, specifically because of the issue
of cost effectiveness. Its just too damn expensive to use chemical
rockets, and nuclear rockets are politically infeasible for surface
launches, no matter how affordable they make space travel.

Mr Zero has no concept of, or at least had demonstrated no in depth
knowledge of, the economics of the policies he advocates. Civilizations
only practice the morals they can afford, but he doesn't seem to
understand this, which is typical of someone who beleives in socialist
ideas. As morally abhorrent as we in the present day find ideas of
slavery (at least those of us who value the sanctity of the individual),
slavery, as a tool of economic development, only became morally
offensive to the majority when the majority had obtained sufficient
technology to make the need for slavery obsolete. Civil rights
originally only applied to the aristocracy that could afford them (the
Magna Carta only applied to englishmen who were property owners).

I do beleive in, and advocate ideas like Mr. Halperin's concept of the
Truth Machine as a tool for determining guilt or innocence and as a
technology for supporting honor, honesty and integrity in business
dealings. I also advocate personal monitor systems as Mr. Zero describes
for people who are convicted felons, in lieu of execution or permanent
imprisonment. Those accused of victimless crimes, or merely financial
crimes, should also be likewise monitored for the duration of their
sentences. However, those individuals who have not committed felonious
offenses against their fellow man, who have demonstrated a consistent
record of honorable and honest civil behavior, should not be treated as
if they are felons merely because they are human beings, otherwise, you
should expect no less from the best members of society than the worst
behavior you normally see from the worst members of society. When you
degrade the standard of performance, the median performance degrades to
meet the new lower standard.

Mike Lorrey

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