The Panopticon Is Here

With a hat tip to the indefatigable JK, here’s the latest on micro-drones.

When I was at Singularity University this past April, a recurring theme was that the coming ubiquity of tiny, cheap and efficient sensors will soon have a seismic effect on the technological, and therefore the human, landscape.

We like to think that we are much freer, in the modern liberal West, than our forebears were under the monarchies, autocracies, and dictatorships of the past. But the truth is that even under the most capricious and unenlightened despots, the lives of ordinary subjects long ago were rarely if ever affected directly by the sovereign, who lived in some far-off keep and was entirely unable to monitor or control the day-to-day activities of his people. But the advent of modern communication and transportation in the twentieth century, followed by electronic-record-keeping of financial transactions and other interactions, made possible a far greater degree of interference by the government in the minutiae of everyday life — and the development in the twenty-first century of small, ubiquitous sensors, connected in real time to intelligent and adaptive monitoring systems, will carry this trend to its logical endpoint: enabling the continuous monitoring of everything any of us does, anywhere, anytime.

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