Thoughtcrime – Future Pandemic?

Image: DepositPhotos

Some have seen Minority Report, the film based on a Philip K. Dick science fiction short story centered around a protagonist of the future crime division in charge of apprehending criminals. The twist is that said criminals have yet to commit the crimes. Some have no clue of what they are about to do yet, under the authority in the future setting of this story, it is entirely legal to be arrested prior to committing a crime. Nay, embraced to the fullest by the citizens of this future state. That is, until it’s too late and the authorities are on their doorstep placing handcuffs on John Doe — then all mannerisms of excuses will be used ultimately to the realization that maybe the public was wrong. Maybe that power should not be given over to authorities in lieu of one’s right to make his or her own choices. Maybe free will really is divine.

 The future is closer than individuals approximate. Right now the National Security Agency is completing the largest intelligence gathering facility in the world; this project will be complete with the most up to date technology just out of prototype phase by 2013. A glimpse at exactly the type of technology we are dealing with here: supercomputers, 2015 projections on data via internet users — but the biggest ace in the hole is the memory. So much memory that a new term was invented for it.  Most have heard of a GigaByte. A GigaByte is 1000 times the size of a MegaByte. A MegaByte is 1000 times the size of a KiloByte. A YottaByte is the newest denomination of data exchange units. It is a quadrillion GigaBytes.  If GB equals 10^9 power of data, a YottaByte is 10^24.

Why the need for so much storage space? Naturally no one is on record to say, but based on the internet usage projections, that can’t be the only reason as they have exponentially more space than what is needed to capture all the information accessible online. What else is there to gather if you had every piece of information known to humanity? How about currently breaking information?

What does that mean exactly? Well, more and more public spaces have begun to opt into utilizing facial recognition software by various companies in order to participate in the next era of marketing.  Being able to announce things like ratio of genders in a space in real time has high appeal in the way of profit margin increases. Other companies are sticking with Facebook as it pioneers cameras that use the website to match the person as he/she goes about town — offering deals, coupons, and recommendations based on all of this information. All one needs to do is simply have an account and register with Facedeals.

At this point, anyone can recognize the potential for abuse by those with the right resources. Let’s delve further, and realize that this abuse is already occurring. We have seen on television authorities abusing power against protestors in the way of violence or chemical warfare by utilizing pepper spray to ‘subdue’ masses. Never mind these masses were prepared to go to jail peacefully for their cause. Never mind that they were merely occupying public space simply by sitting, threatening no one; the least of which are those armed in riot gear. At the Olympics last month, there was a case wherein a man looked suspicious and thus he was arrested. Turns out the lead to the arrest was his not smiling at one of the events during the Games. He wasn’t smiling due to a previous stroke that rendered those muscles weak. It was explained away because it was the Olympics, and there was a sport going on plus there was a large group of people. But that’s small potatoes.

Image: State Department images of Word Trade Center 9/11. Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is really disturbing are the emails about a program called Trapwire, created by Abraxas which is an intelligence company in Virginia. Both program and company are little known. The reason there is any information out at all would be due to intercepted emails by Anonymous and other similar entities. According to the press release, the program was invented to combat terrorism. However, the emails suggest that this will be used for surveillance purposes with implementation across most major US cities deemed High Value Targets with set preparations to take this program abroad. It’s also more accurate than facial recognition software. Police forces in places such as Los Angeles have already drafted this new program into their networks.

No one is advocating for a crime-riddled population. Everyone benefits from safe public space to live. However, when that public space entails monitoring our every move to prevent “terrorism” via logging every destination, route, friend/family member, function, doctor’s appointment, ballot-box frequented and potentially every purchase made, it’s blatant post 9/11 rhetoric adopted for profit and fear-mongering. Propaganda fits the bill as well seeing as the smallest slight against the state (jaywalking, running out of time on your parking meter, etc.) could result in your being arrested, assuming you don’t vote the way of capital gains for those who already own too much. The market has regained its pre-disaster levels — how about we reclaim those pre-disaster freedoms?


  1. As we continue to lose our personal liberties in the name of anti-terrorism, this story doesn’t seem so fictional.


  1. […] need to pay attention to this, because as technology becomes more accessible, so too will we. What, after all, violates our reasonable expectation of privacy when we are so willing to share […]