I was looking at web stats earlier this week and was surprised to see that this Google Earth Street View article from three years ago is still pulling thousands of page views per month. I'm not sure why - it probably hits Google page one for several related searches, but I really can't imagine why: only three external sites link to it and while my opinions might be a bit controversial, its continuing popularity honestly makes no particular sense.
That aside, it's plain that privacy will soon be entering the realm of thought and intention. We're already testing or using software at airports that attempts to identify bad intent from biometrics and behavior. How long will it be before your local Quickie-Mart scans you as you walk from your car and locks the door or at least alerts personnel that you might not be coming for a lottery ticket and a cup of coffee?
Speaking of that, have you noticed that the pictures of the perps in convenient store robberies are often clearer than those from banks? Why is that? You'd think banks could afford better video capture, wouldn't you?
Arousing a computer's suspicion could cause more video cameras to turn toward you. In a high-tech future, you might be made to standout on a video screen at the tellers or clerks stations. Very sophisticated systems might even alert local police so that they could possibly head toward the scene "just in case".
I was thinking of all that when we visited a museum last week. Employees walked the corridors constantly, admonishing people to step back from certain exhibits and of course being watchful for theft. Their jobs must be boring to the extreme, but still fraught with the possibility of danger. A watchful computer could have assured them that my intentions didn't include damaging anything or slipping anything else into my pocket. They still would have had to speak to my wife because she tends to get her finger uncomfortably close to canvas when pointing out some small detail, but at least they would have known that she isn't an art thief either.
Combining computers and cameras is still in its infancy, but these days are coming. The cop who stops you for speeding might get feedback in his ear telling him how wary he ought to be - are you just a good citizen momentarily inattentive or are you up to no good? Biometrics analysis could make cops jobs safer too.
I'm sure it will affect all sorts of business. Applying for a loan? Your posture and facial expressions could add valuable data to your credit report. Applying for a job? Same thing, and if you get that job, don't expect the scanning to end there: from the parking lot to your desk, some computer will be thinking about what your body language might mean.
Yeah, I know: very Orwellian. It's going to come just the same.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-11 Anthony Lawrence
FORTRAN's tragic fate has been its wide acceptance, mentally chaining thousands and thousands of programmers to our past mistakes. (Edsger W. Dijkstra)