Thursday, July 19, 2007

All The Better To Spy On You

Technology both thrills and frightens me. Seagate and Samsung have released 1 terabyte hard drives this week. The Samsung drive is suggested at $399. Back in 1994, my hot top of the line 400mb hard drive cost a wee bit more than that. It was right before the switch over from the 486 series of computers to the pentium class. The technology is exciting because you can put so much more of your life on your computer. As the storage capacity increases, you can digitize movies, photos, audio to your hearts content without having to worry as much about compression and space.

The way we use computers now has changed in just the half generation since I have become a user. We compressed text files, crimped pictures into the crappiest resolution possible, stored items on disk just so we could make do with the room. My 14.4 modem didn't allow for much data to be transfered anyways.

Where will the technology be another half generation from now? Will we all have six security cameras outside our houses sweeping the horizon at overlapping angles dumping the video onto our hard drives forever just to protect us from the bad guys?

Will we put cameras on our kids 24/7 over wireless networks so we can monitor all their interactions? About 5 years ago, a colleague of mine already had his kid's classroom hooked up to a web cam which he could monitor at any time through a computer on the internet with a password.

Will today's dwindling lack of privacy seem like a golden time of freedom once newer technology, cheaper data make it inevitable that we are almost always being monitored?

New York is planning on imitating London with the spy camera set up. Facial recognition software improves with each generation. The technology, the capacity, and affordability are going to allow government or business to track you as an individual every time you are in camera range and record it. Thankfully, most of our lives are too uninteresting for the data to be more than data sitting in a hard drive in a cooled storage building.

It still gives me the shivers.