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The Dawn of Robot Surveillance (aclu.org)
89 points by oil25 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments



It's already here, and it's called Amazon Ring.[1] "Our township is now entirely covered by cameras," said Captain Vincent Kerney, detective bureau commander of the Bloomfield Police Department. "Every area of town we have, there are some Ring cameras."

Amazon seems to be handling consumer surveillance, while Microsoft is concentrating on the business market. Google Nest, of course, watches you while you sleep. Facebook is a bit late to the party; their "Portal" device is still in pre-order.

"Big Brother is watching YOU!"

[1] https://www.cnet.com/features/amazons-helping-police-build-a...


Better article:

https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/surveillance-te...

I have long warned about this. Usually when you leave a parking lot and go to a store, you think you can come out later and not go to your car, achieving free parking for a while! Now with the AI behind surveillance you may no longer be able to. Gait recognition, facial and clothing and so on. Maybe it would still be easy to fool for a while by changing up those things on the way out. But you’d have to go back to the store before going to your car.


Perfect surveillance will be a hurdle society must cross, but we can come out of it to a more honest place.

Many injustices exist because groups of people can hide behind hypocrisy; pretending to be different from those they target, while engaging in the same behavior themselves. When there is nowhere to hide, there is nowhere to shut out the reality that we're all just advanced animals doing the best we can.

Unfortunately, as u/devoply mentioned, there will be significant pain (and yes, bloodshed) in this process as the legal system's many flaws will be writ large.

In the best scenario we'll eventually use systems like this to form more realistic and flexible societies, rather than as tools to enforce rigid ideas.

The hard part will be that as these surveillance networks develop, they won't be perfect. Their creators, elites, etc. will be able to use surveillance for thee and not for me. That, IMO is the thing to watch out for. If average citizens are going to be watched, everyone must be watched.

Edit to clarify my use of "elites": I use it here to mean anyone with enough money, power or influence to shield themselves from surveillance.


Surveillance will be owned by the people who own the surveillance, not socialized under any circumstances that I could imagine. Maybe a total transparency religious cult arises and takes over the world within a decade?

So "we" won't be doing anything. Right now is the perfect time for a your market in individual surveillance, the tech and software to run it is cheap and available, but just as capital under a free market accrues to a very few at the top, the majority of personal surveillance equipment involves sending everything to google and amazon. I could more easily see a future where individual surveillance is deemed dangerous and potential child pornography, and all cameras are required to have their input sent to government-certified organizations like google, and amazon. (aside: in that future, firefox will also be certified, have one percent of the market, be entirely contained on one floor of one building on a google campus, and subcontract analysis to a 3rd party company started by google alums with ex-CIA on the board of directors.)

There is no possible future in which you will have access to any unfiltered surveillance, unless you are currently an oligarch or associate with oligarchs.


>Perfect surveillance will be a hurdle society must cross, but we can come out of it to a more honest place.

Surveillance doesn't lead to more honesty, it leads to theatrics and reduction of behaviour to the lowest common denominator. One only needs to pay a few minutes of attention to influencers on social media to see what happens when someone is made completely transparent to their environment. Any notion of authencitity goes out of the window and you get a black mirror like popularity contest.


I pray we don't make it that far, but one thing's for sure—–the place we'd emerge into wouldn't be an "honest" one.

Even assuming your best case where every citizen can watch their watchers and elites and that such surveillance can't be deleted, doctored, or circumvented by digital or old-fashioned duplicity, what are the people to do if they see abuse? For such an unrealistic scenario to have a chance of working, you also need a perfectly accountable "complaint system" where citizens can file concerns over mistakes or abuse. And of course the citizens need to find the time and energy to actually watch all this footage and the understanding to know when something bad is happening. Do citizens have access to the same NSA-level filter/search programs and the hardware to run them across so much data? What a terrible waste of everyone's time and energy.


I find this pretty scary. In all dictatorships of the past and present there were ways for people to do things the dictatorships didn’t know. They could meet and communicate with each other. Soon it may be possible to know where any person is at any moment and run analytics that monitors connections between people in real time. In the past they could only monitor a very limited group of people because it was expensive. Add to that robot cops that can act on this immediately then maybe the next Nazis, Stalin or North Korea can maintain their power by sheer force for a very long time. Maybe people will find ways around that as they often have done In the past but maybe not. Definitely very scary.


Add in deepfake and you get a recipe for a nightmare.


Our legal systems in all our countries are totalitarian like literally. The reason that very few people come in contact with them is libertarian philosophy. In that if nobody witnesses something happen or is not bothered by it then nobody gets in trouble. When you add continuous surveillance to everything then many more people that otherwise would've gone unnoticed will come in contact with the legal system and be effected by it.


Not to mention that anyone is guilty of plenty of crimes at any point in time. You just have to decide to "get" someone, and they will be taken away.

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/06/12/forty-five-th...

Just read number 37 if you're having problems accepting that the law will be applied unevenly.


I've recently started seeing a ton of these kinds of cameras with video analytics being deployed in South Africa. The company that is mostly rolling them out, vumacam [1], strikes me as quite scary.

Because they’re not a government organisation and their business model seems to be selling their camera feeds to private security companies, I wanted to find out specifically who they share video feeds with but they're not totally clear about this besides for saying that they share information with third parties. Does this mean that anyone can claim to be a security company, pay for the feed and get access to video analytics and cameras at every street corner? Even if this is not true, it still looks as if there might be many opportunities for people to abuse the video feed _just_ when legitimate security companies have access.

What really worries me though, is whether or not they're running facial recognition on the camera feeds. On their website, they're very open about running automated licences plate recognition and market it as a huge selling point. But in their privacy policy documents they often make reference to collecting data about individuals and vehicles as well as "biometric information" [2]. Plus, if you look under the features section of their website they show screenshots from something called "Milestone" which seems to be the platform they use for video analytics [3] and it seems like there are tons [4] of facial tracking plugins that work on this system. So, it could be totally possible for someone to install face tracking in addition to license plate recognition, whenever they wanted.

When I talk to people about the cameras most are so excited about the prospect of them reducing crime that they would happily accept any of the possible effects they might have on their privacy. Which is fair enough, crime is such a huge problem in South Africa that it might be worth taking a hit to our privacy if it means less people get murdered. I think what this means is that in places with high crime rates, it’s going to be very hard to convince people to take their privacy over anything that might tangibly curb crime. For myself, I can’t help but see these cameras as leading to dystopian like futures, which makes me very worried, even if they were to significantly reduce crime.

[1] https://www.vumacam.co.za/ [2] https://www.vumacam.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/PAIA-Ma... [3] https://www.milestonesys.com/ [4] https://www.milestonesys.com/solution-finder/ayonix/APS-mile...




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