Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 08:37:48 MDT

On Mon, Apr 03, 2000 at 10:02:37AM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> I'm not surprised that the cradle to grave nanny state is on the forefront of
> this. I'm also not surprised that the areas in the US that are jumping on the
> bandwagon also have similarly high levels of taxation, welfare bureaucracy,
> police forces, and general social misery and oppression.
Ahem. Taxation in the UK is roughly on a par with the USA -- it's the
lowest tax zone in Europe, and one of the lowest tax regimes in the
developed world. Welfare bureaucracy is minimal, too. This is the country
where an allegedly left-wing government is privatising the air traffic
control system and the post office, and has privatised most of the
infrastructure items that are handled by local government in the USA.

> All this incomplete coverage will do is cause more criminals to commit crimes in
> areas that ARENT under coverage. The crime rate in more rural areas will go up,
> people will get whacked out on the moors, etc. You'll see a lot of spouses dying
> in 'accidents' during camping trips. Boating 'accidents' will rise, and
> criminals will get more circumspect about cleaning up crime scenes.
It's happened, but not the way you suggest. The first areas to get protected
were central shopping/business areas and middle class suburbs. This pushed
crime out into low-income estates. (There simply isn't enough rural area
for people to get lost/whacked in -- or a high enough murder rate for the
phenomenon to be visible. When I said urbanized, I _meant_ urbanized: 98% of
the population lives in towns/cities, the housing density is comparable
to Japan.)
> So what you are saying is that Heathrow is a good place to test my Mr. Mike's
> Big Brother Zapper...oh, that could be fun....
Believe me, I've thought about it!

Logical countermeasures:

1. Make BBZ's illegal, of course.

2. Switch from video to film cameras. Microtechnology will probably make this
   possible; use *really tiny* film reels, flying insects to collect the
   cameras and digest/develop/transcieve the film when nobody is around.
   (This isn't real-time surveillance, however.)

3. Fibre optics.

4. Neural network detection of suspicious behaviour -- lurking with intent
   to zap a camera _will_ get you highlighted and questioned by the
   police. (This latter is currently in active development by, for
   example, London Underground, who want to be able to spot trouble on tube
   train platforms -- like disturbances, bombs, pick-pockets, or potential
   suicide risks.)

-- Charlie

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