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I'm very much in favor of these cameras, but there's one extrapolation that few have proposed: Why not encourage private citizens to record their public lives? Most of the arguments for recording police apply to everyone: Allegations are quickly discovered to be true or false. Everyone involved is less likely to be violent. People are more cordial. Determining guilt or innocence is much easier. Was a shooting self-defense or manslaughter? Did the eyewitness really recognize the defendant on the night of the crime? Etc.

There are other perks to life-logging. Conversations could be transcribed and searched, eliminating many disputes as to who said what. We already do this with IRC and some types of video chat. You could even save footage that becomes important only much later. For example, you could prove you sold pencils to Vincent van Gogh before he was famous. Or you could record the first time you met your now-spouse. Finally, there's the entertainment value of life-logging. Think Russian dash cams on steroids.

This technology has the potential to drastically reduce crime and improve quality of life. Yet I think most people would have an aversion to constantly recording their own lives, let alone being constantly recorded by others. I'm curious how people resolve this inconsistency.




There are two primary argument for police to have them IMHO.

1. Police have extraordinary power over others.

2. Juries believe them by default.

This gives them much higher requirements for accountability than most people.

I do really like the idea though. Human memories are incredibly inaccurate, but we believe our own memories and can't really do otherwise. If we had the option of a surrogate memory that could be really transformational. Imagine what that would do to your perception of time and your discount rate if you could have perfect recall of your whole life?


1. Police have extraordinary power over others.

2. Juries believe them by default.

There are many contexts where juries will believe one party prejudicially over another, and/or one party has some form of extraordinary power in defiance of facts or objective reality. (What these are, and their directions vary over time.) Up until now, it seems that our only and very crude solution has been to introduce a "correcting bias" in the direction deemed most likely to increase the amount of justice enacted in society.

It seems to me that gathering more information in a more timely fashion and making objective and contextually relevant determinations is the rational and technically savvy direction to go. However, I'm not so sure that human beings are mature enough as a species to actually apply such informational power in a truly fair and rational manner. I rather think that we'd be prone to using such power to bolster the whims and prejudices of the status quo, at least in the short term.


> what that would do to your perception of time and your discount rate if you could have perfect recall of your whole life?

Now that is an interesting question. Lowering the time discounting of an entire society is pretty much awesome for everyone involved.

We need to get some RCTs or at least large epidemiological surveys on the time discounting of sousveillers & lifeloggers.


This is the subject of an episode of Black Mirror. It's hardly an exhaustive investigation but it's certainly a good slice of Twilight-Zone-y sci-fi.


What happens when the police enter private property? Information leaks happen all the time from law enforcement storage.


If there are police officers in my home, 99 times out of 100 it would be preferable for me if they recorded everything and uploaded it directly to youtube on purpose, than if they recorded nothing.


There is obviously nothing in your home about which you fear your neighbours finding out. Not everyone is in that category.

Or, an even more likely occurrence: Police get dispatched to domestic disputes quite frequently, where there's lots of hateful argument going on. The content of these arguments is often something that you don't want your neighbours or colleagues finding out, for a host of reasons.


Downside: your Tom of Finland collection is exposed on YouTube.

Upside, most especially if you are black: the police do not smash your door down in full riot gear, shoot your dog, point rifles at your kids, put a gun to your head and threaten to arrest you on a trumped up assault charge. All because they got the wrong address.


Yeah. This decision (personal transparency) depends largely on how much an individual fears they have embarrassing personal lives vs how much they fear legal system (police, prosecutors, judges) incompetence and corruption.

There is no "right" decision.

I personally fear the legal system much more. Both because it is more likely and it's consequences are more severe. Being ostracized and fired from my job cause I'm a furry vs spending anytime in jail/prison (which would probably get me ostracized and fired anyways).


>There is obviously nothing in your home about which you fear your neighbours finding out. Not everyone is in that category.

Or the risk of what the police might do if unrecorded outweighs the neighbours gossiping.

Also in suburbia it is my experience that neighbours can hear what is being sad in a domestic anyway. Drywall doesn't muffle yelling much.


> If we had the option of a surrogate memory that could be really transformational.

I'm inclined to believe that I don't want surrogate memory. You might be interested in an episode of Black Mirror, "The Entire History of You", that is premised around this.


The Reversal Test is a good thing to think about when examining the possibility of Status Quo Bias: If you had the option to make your memory more unreliable, or to give up what videos, photographs, and other recordings of your life that you currently have; would you take it?

If not, what makes you think that the current spot on the continuum from "accurate/prosthetic memories" to "inaccurate/solely internal memories" is the best spot?


Maybe not surrogate, but the ability to back up memory and maybe index it would be almost equally transformational and wouldn't involve having perfect recall of every time you screwed up. I know that wouldn't solve the issues raised in "The Entire History of You", but I'm not entirely sold "forgetting it happened" is a better solution to that episode anyway.


There is no inconsistency here. A desire to record the police stems from the fact that there is a huge discrepancy in power in any interaction between a police officer and a normal citizen and that the police officer is on duty to uphold the laws established by society at large. That is a drastically different set of circumstances than wanting to record any average person all the time.

And personally, I don't want to have to live my life in a way where everything I say or do is on the record. I want the freedom to be able to make remarks and jokes that would be appropriate among friends but not to any random person. I don't want to have to phrase everything I say as PC as possible knowing that it will be stored forever.


I didn't say we should require everyone to record themselves all the time. I said maybe it makes sense to encourage people to voluntarily record their public lives.

I think power discrepancies between private citizens can be just as great. I'm 5'6" and 120lbs. Even unarmed, many people pose a threat to me. Heck, I've been physically threatened by strangers several times in the past month.

Also, I think recording strangers in public would help curb antisocial behavior. There's a guy swearing loudly on his cell phone on the bus I'm riding. Maybe he'd tone it down a little if someone threatened to upload a video of him.


I travel on buses that have CCTV and a big monitor so everyone can see what the 8 or so cameras are recording. People swear loudly (no audio recording but I doubt that is a factor); people prepare cannabis cigarettes; etc etc.

Some people are just anti social[1] and do not care.

[1] preparing a joint isn't anti social! They're not smoking it on the bus. But it is illegal in the UK.


> Also, I think recording strangers in public would help curb antisocial behavior.

We have that ability already. In Australia last year there were several cases of racially motivated verbal abuse on public transport being caught on mobile phones. These made the evening news. I wonder if this, and other similar instances around the world, have made anyone think twice before being anti-social.


Threatening people who are swearing loudly with much of anything is pretty much guaranteed to lead to a confrontation.


It really depends on the situation. In this case, my tactic worked. I calmly told the man that there were children on the bus, and that he should tone down his conversation. Then I pulled out my phone to take his picture, but he covered his face and got off at the next stop. I wonder if he was worried about an encounter with police. Next time I'll take a picture first.

Yet another instance where life logging would have been useful: I was walking home this evening and someone in a car blasted me with an air horn. It's been about an hour since the incident. Both my ears feel like they are plugged and I hear ringing in my right ear. I got the car's make and model, but I was in too much pain to think about looking for the plate. Life logging probably would have caught the perpetrator.


Sorry what! 'Then I pulled out my phone to take his picture' I can't be the only one who thinks this guy is in the wrong.

You propose that people log there every day lives? Why don't we just increase the CCTV cameras on every street, so some one can watch our every moves 24/7.


Are you saying I'm in the wrong? If so, I'm not sure how you could justify that. The man was offending, distracting, and annoying everyone on the bus. His behavior wasn't illegal, but it should certainly be discouraged. Besides, photographing someone in a public place when they're currently being recorded by CCTV is about as benign an action as one can take.

I apologize if I've misinterpreted your comment.


You're not the only one. I think that strategy is overzealous and has potential to have terribly unintended consequences. Adria Richards comes to mind.


I wouldn't have a problem recording my own life, or having others record theirs, if I knew for certain that the footage would stay on a secure hard drive owned by the individual shooting it, and the government (or anyone else) couldn't access it without a warrant.

Unfortunately, and technically reasonable solution to people recording their lives would likely include automatic uploading, cloud storage, and ultimately government (and corporate) access to the video. I am not OK with that, for the same reasons I'm not OK with government surveillance.


In the US ...

Unfortunately, those recordings would not be out of reach because while you cannot be compelled to testify against yourself, you can be compelled to testify against someone else if the prosecution has reason to believe you have testimony material to the charges. And that is why this sort of thing falls down.


I genuinely don't understand why it's okay for people but not okay for governments?

People who breach privacy do stuff with that information. Governments who breach privacy do very little with that information, and mostly not to me.

That's not to say it is acceptable for governments to do it - they must not. But if find it weird to read on HN peoe saying that it is terrible for a government to breach privacy but then admitting they do it to their users.


Parent poster wasn't condoning breaching privacy; parent poster was condoning an individual owning their own observatiosn.


One reason is that governments are funded by taxation, which is compulsory.


I'm very much in favor of these cameras, but there's one extrapolation that few have proposed: Why not encourage private citizens to record their public lives? Most of the arguments for recording police apply to everyone: Allegations are quickly discovered to be true or false.

Here's a hardware startup idea: A voice recorder that reliably records only your own voice. This could be combined with a soundless video record to legally and automatically record your public life in almost any jurisdiction in the US.

There are other perks to life-logging. Conversations could be transcribed and searched, eliminating many disputes as to who said what.

Basically the same perks and drawbacks to small town or village life.

Think Russian dash cams on steroids.

People lie. A lot! And even people trying to be accurate and truthful are subject to all sorts of malfunctions.

...If you catalog all of the pernicious things humans do to themselves then Homo sapiens comes out worse than any "forehead-alien/warlike species" from any sci-fi TV or movie property. The Klingons or the Kzinti have nothing on humans in terms of cold, sadistic, or violent tendencies. The Ferengi have nothing on us in terms of greed-driven amorality. Even Sith Lords are amateurs at cold-blooded Realpolitik compared to actual historic figures.

Humans are wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Maybe that's the solution to the Fermi Paradox. We're like the extremely interesting person you find so hot on okcupid, but you know way better than to even consider dating them, precisely because they're a little too interesting.

When all is said and done, voluntary free-market self-surveillance is still preferable to the closed-minded doublethink of traditional religious/social institutions and their methods of controlling us unruly humans.


Most people haven't had the need to life-log. They don't get into the kind of situation where that evidence is useful very often. So they don't have the knowledge to setup a life logging device until after they've needed it. (A bit like backup software!)

Storage and battery size and etc have all been a bit clunky until recently too. I guess a rolling buffer of a hour is fine; click a button to dump the peevious hour to long term storage?

The few times where I would have benefited from using such devices I know the other people would have really really hated me using it.

I'm interested in cheap / free (as in cost and rights) methods for life logging. I don't care about breaking surveillance laws.


>The few times where I would have benefited from using such devices I know the other people would have really really hated me using it. //

This is a potential problem. In the OP the officer waits until after the situation to upload. If it's not live streaming then you risk being attacked so that the video footage is prevented from being uploaded.

This issue came up here in the past in relation to apps for recording audio using a smartphone.

>I don't care about breaking surveillance laws. //

This is especially interesting to me as you're effectively gathering evidence that could show you broke the law. I'd assume in the UK such evidence, if found, could be used against you.

Would you need to wear a sign saying "video recording in operation"?


I genuinely don't know what the UK laws are.

I should have been clearer though. For my purposes the video / audio would have very limited use. "Hey! They did this thing that they must not do! That's why I did what I did".

NHS (uk health service) complaints system is a bit broken and recording appointments would be useful for me.


> The few times where I would have benefited from using such devices I know the other people would have really really hated me using it [...] I don't care about breaking surveillance laws

It seems to me that those two statements are very much at odds with each other, unless the 'benefit' you're getting from life-logging is simply personal or emotional satisfaction. What 'benefit' are we talking about here?


Imagine a meeting with a psychologist who gives a blatantly illegal reason for keeping my spouse detained under secrion of the mental health act.

Without a recording my options are to write a nearest relative's letter of order to discharge, and face the wrarh of the psychologist who could then cause considerable trouble for me and my spouse.

With the recording all the backlash from the psych is damped down when I let people know what actually happened.

Recording that meeting has some ethical and moral problems and the other people in the meeting would be strongly against me recording it. And while there might be laws against it they tend not to be strictly enforced over here.

There are a bunch of other "he said she said" situations where a recording might be useful.


> Why not encourage private citizens to record their public lives? Most of the arguments for recording police apply to everyone: Allegations are quickly discovered to be true or false. Everyone involved is less likely to be violent. People are more cordial. Determining guilt or innocence is much easier. Was a shooting self-defense or manslaughter? Did the eyewitness really recognize the defendant on the night of the crime? Etc.

This has already taken root in a bunch of countries, to an extent. Dash cams are ubiquitous in Russia, though it's this restricted to "when I'm in my car" (depending on make, dash cams can record only the outside — front — or both inside and outside)


There is a great episode of Black Mirror (All episodes of Black Mirror are great, but this one is more relevant - Season 1 Episode 3) titled The Entire History of Us, it turns the figurative mirror on a world where people do exactly this...


People have been arrested and worse for taking video of police officers. This is not a threat I need in my daily life.

The legality of recording someone without their express consent also varies by state. I would love to record my daily public life. Laws and technology make that tricky.


They may simply have different ideas about what constitutes quality of life. Personally, I am not interested in any of the "perks" you mention, though of course the benefits when it comes to law and justice are pretty clear.


What concerns me with lifelogging is the ability for 1) a one off event to detriment your life ongoing, as most of us have done or said something stupid or out-of-character at some point. 2) We create this society of bland interactions as people are afraid something they do or say being 'wrong' and made public 3) Having blanket coverage at the personal level it would be easier for people to grab/create moments that take things out of context.

There is definitely some benefit there for the right environment, but always on blanket recording across the populations to me seems the downside would outweigh the positives.


I would love to record more of my life.

Unfortunately the state that I live in (Illinois) is a two-party consent state. Even in cases where I know I'm going to be ripped off, such as cancelling a gym membership, I'm not able to record.


"The Circle" by Dave Eggers [1] is a good exploration of this future.

[1] http://amzn.com/0385351399


One problem that comes to mind is that people who would choose not record themselves would be looked on with suspicion, having the police do the recording would eliminate this problem.

Personally life logging is something I'm personally quite interested in, but mandating it, even socially rather than legally, is highly problematic in my eyes.


Same reason I don't keep a journal yet: I'm finding it difficult to have an easily-accessible, but definitely secured system.

For instance, OneNote sounds great, until I realised using it multi-device means everything gets stored on MS's servers in plaintext, available to anyone in position (technically or legally).


Most states have wiretapping laws and for anything to be admissible to court for instance I believe you need to notify them that you are recording. I'm actually surprised Google glass has not run afoul of those laws.


Just wait until Google Glass takes off, cloud storage becomes cheaper, wifi/mobile networks become faster... And those Russian dash cam/fail videos will hit a new high in no time.


If you record it, They will come.


You should see the movie Final Cut :)




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