Saturday, 3 March 2007

5:5 The final solution; sniffing people through sensor technology.

Let us introduce you to a solution which lies ahead, if you are prepared to grasp it - sensor technology. Sensors are one side-product of a marriage between robotics and nano-technology. As you know, nano-technology allows tiny machines to be constructed, so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. These can be computers, cameras, medical instruments, many things. They can communicate with each other, and then with a central storage system. These tiny devices will become cheap to produce in bulk and could be spread like seeds all over people’s houses, public arenas or elsewhere.

Already there are trials to set up houses filled with sensors which will recognize human body warmth and movements and adjust the amenities accordingly. For example, a person would find that as they approached their front door the lights, heating, their favourite music or whatever would come on. As they moved around the house, the same thing would happen.

It has been suggested that this would bring families together. An aged mother living in a remote cottage would know that rather than the primitive emergency button she would normally press if she fell, her family three hundred miles away could have on their computer screen a diagrammatic picture of her every movement. As the cameras get better, they could watch her every move. This is on the edge of possibility now. In twenty years it will be a commonplace.

As fatherly guardians of your peoples, you will of course take over the carer’s role. You will watch people’s homes for them. You will be able to step inside every house in the country and watch what is going on, eavesdrop on every sound people make. There are already roadway signs saying ‘We know every person who does not have a TV licence. Be warned.’ Soon they could be supplemented by ‘We know every move which you make, every word you speak, where you go, who you meet, what you eat. Be warned.’

Because of the size and sophistication of the systems, they are immensely powerful and, to all intents and purposes, invisible. The old bugging devices could be discovered hidden in phones or flower pots. The new sensors will be too tiny to discover in this way. The sensors, furthermore, act as networks, they accumulate, compare, stand in for each other if one is damaged or found, and then they forward their accumulated findings to ‘the control’. There your workers will be sitting to sort out the patterns.

Of course in the past and in quieter times people might have demanded some privacy and protection against all of this. But remind them that you are at war. Your enemies are in your midst. Your duty is to ‘smoke them out’. So you must take short-cuts. Make sure that every house is inspected on some pretext and then scatter these invisible sensors round it and wait for the results. And, of course, drop millions of them in foreign countries which you feel may have terrorists.


Michael said...

This is a wonderful and usefully-terrifying use of the Malleus. At what age do you think your Lily, for example, could handle reading this? How about a kid in the U.S.?


Alan Macfarlane said...

I think that Lily could handle this about mid-way through her University career - ie. at about 19. But she is tough and maybe younger. I hope that the same would be true in the US.