Re: Surveillance Technology

den Otter (
Thu, 3 Dec 1998 10:50:55 +0100

> From:
> And who watches the watchers?

Other watchers. Visualize it as a circle of people where everyone watches the guy in front of him, while being watched from behind himself.

> And where exactly are you going to store all that data anyway? You don't
> have enough atoms to store more than a few hours of global surveillance
> data at an accuracy high enough to be useful. You can't store the universe.

No need to store the universe. There would be many cameras, but obviously not *everywhere*, just on strategic public spots (therefore not a transparant, but rather semi-transparant society). I'm not sure how much data can be stored with current technologies, but it should be quite a lot. Obviously it would require giant complexes (the self-replicating chip factories in the desert would certainly come in handy, though it should also be feasible in the traditional way), and after an x amount of time a part of the files would probably have to be deleted to make room for new data. You'd simply take the system as far as current technology would allow it, and expand from there (you could think about turning large parts of the moon into storage space, for example. Same for the earth's deserts etc).

> Uh, you can't use criminals who are caught to prove that criminals are
> stupid, when most of the criminals who are stupid get caught and most of
> the smart criminals don't. The law enforcement folks I've spoken to
> certainly seem to be aware of that.

Most criminals are stupid. That more aren't caught is more due to the incompetence of the police than to the crook's intellect. That more aren't *convicted* is of course due to inherent flaws in the justice system. This is probably even a bigger problem than police corruption/ incompetence/indifference etc.

> And, of course, in your wonderful future the smart criminals would take
> over the surveillance system and hence would no longer be regarded as
> criminals, just like Clinton and Reno.

Clinton has been voted into power, hence he is technically not a criminal, but rather that what the people deserve. Of course, *any* system can be corrupted, but it can be made extremely difficult to do and keeping the takeover hidden would be harder still.

> >Furthermore, you can't fool an integrated surveillance system by
> >"simply" dropping fake DNA or changing your face. You can't
> >possibly find and modify all the relevant surveillance details (in
> >time).
> Yes I can, because with universal global surveillance I can get any
> information I want. Is this universal surveillance or isn't it? You
> can't have things both ways.

Yes you can, more or less. Only those involved in a criminal case (prosecution & defense) have access to the data, and they are monitored by others while looking over the evidence (and the others are monitored by a 3rd party, etc.) Changing data from the access terminal can be made physically impossible (limited command functions).

> >The thread is about eliminating arbitrary justice, about revealing the truth
> >by means of technology.
> What is "the truth"? Why is video more "true" than anything else?

The truth is what really happened (for example: x shoots y with gun z). Video is simply the most detailed and explicit tool to record "reality" that is available to us today. It's like a perfectly neutral witness with a photographic memory.

> >I too dislike
> >oppressive bureaucracies, but it doesn't make me blind to the fact
> >that for society as it is now (with imperfect people), massive improvement
> >cannot be achieved by abolishing the concept of the state.
> If people are imperfect, how can taking a group of imperfect people (and
> politicians are generally much more imperfect than most) and giving them
> a monopoly on power make things better?

There are two scenarios, really. In one I (or a very similar individual or AI) would have total control, and use other transhumanists as his advisory board, in the other an intricate system of checks and balances would have to be created which distributes power among various opposing groups (something like an advanced form of the US constitution). All basic rules would have to be laid out in a constitution, which can't be changed (so that later generations can't screw it up). Also, the rules should be formulated in such an explicit way that they're virtually impossible to misinterpret. What guarantee do would you have that it would work? None, of course. There are no certainties in life. However, *if* it worked well it would work considerably better than anything before it, and certainly better than what we have now. Seeking improvement, even if it involves a certain risk, is very extropian of course.

[note: the above is purely theoretical stuff]

> >Anarchy
> >could *never* produce the level of (near) perfection that a transhuman-
> >run state could.
> And if pigs had wings... Look, you want to create a world where everyone
> acts just like you want them to. You don't believe in free will

When it comes down to it, there is no free will.There is not a single part of us that isn't simply a reaction to internal and external impulses. "Universal consciousness" or whatever has nothing to do with it.

As I
> see it, the battle of the future will be between proponents of single
> universal consciousness such as yourself

Here you come with this "universal consciousness" again. Wanting people basically to stick to the Golden Rule and total uniformity of thought are not the same thing, mind you. I like diversity, but not of the negative (criminal etc.) kind. "Diversity" is, like most things, neutral in and of itself. Only when placed in a certain context does it become "good" or "bad". The (official?) mindless glorification of "diversity" and "complexity" by some Extropians is not based on reason, but on dogma.

and those of us who want a diverse
> distributed system. The former is, of course, impossible in any workable
> sense because of light-speed restrictions, but it's certainly possible to
> wipe out all other life on this planet before I get off it, and that's
> what scares me about these kind of police state schemes.

Police states aside, if you don't make sure to be among the first to upload, you've probably had it. We shouldn't really be argueing about these meaningless things (yes, mea culpa too), but gather massive wealth and work on an "uploader". That is the only thing that really counts.

A final note on the identity question: even if you create separate uploads, the ability to exchange data (including feelings, experiences, personality traits etc.) fast and in great detail would ultimately lead to a "collective consciousness". By then, no-one would mind as nothing is lost.

> I remember the days when I posted about once a year because most of the
> other list members were so far above me in their understanding of these
> issues that I couldn't add anything useful to the discussion. Sadly,
> they're long gone...

Sadly? A list like that is more boring than a tennis match! Not very Extropian either, IMO. The only way to make transhumanism "big" is to come down from the ivory tower and mingle with the crowds.