Monitoring people (was Re: Meritocracies and freedom of information)

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Oct 14 2001 - 12:07:33 MDT

Adrian Tymes wrote:

> There are so many foreign students, the government could not
> possibly monitor even a small fraction of them.

It depends what you mean by "monitor". Computers are cheap and
getting cheaper (IBM mainframe class computers don't cost $5
million anymore). The required information on say 10-20 million
people would *easily* fit on a single hard drive. We have the
technology to do data collection and mining inexpensively --
lets use it.

The government scans my passport every time I enter the U.S.
so they must have a record of all of my entries. The airlines
have a record of all of my exits. Why can't this information
be tied together such that the border crossings can be matched?
(Particularly for non-U.S. citizens!) VISAs are issued for
explicit periods and specific purposes. I see no reason why
when people overstay VISAs red flags should not go off to
cause the start of an investigation.

Foreign students could easily be monitored. Every college
would be required to provide quarterly lists of the students
taking classes to the government. Someone dropping off a
list who doesn't leave the country with a certain period
should be investigated to determine whether they represent
a threat. The same could be done for people attending flight
schools, conferences, etc. Its easy to employ a bank of telephone
operators in India who conduct the initial follow-ups for people who
have gone missing from their stated purpose of visiting the U.S.
Most of them will turn out to be nothing, but some will raise
red flags and be turned over to the INS or FBI.

I think we are going to have to develop better methods for
determining when someone represents a threat and implement
them. When one moves to a world with nanotechnology, the rules
for what types of technology you will be able to import are
very likely to be enclave specific. The burden is likely going
to have to be on the individual entering the enclave to prove that
they are not carrying dangerous technology. I could easily
envision the development of enzymes that turn the CHON in
the human body into gasoline and TNT. People in possession
of those enzymes don't get to visit my enclave.


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