When I was young, we would be assigned to read books like 1984 in high school. These were viewed as dystopian novels, as cautionary tales. We would have the usual earnest class discussions. Some feared the outcome, some thought it unlikely. But everyone agreed that it would be a really bad thing.
Robin Hanson points out that 1984 has arrived, albeit 27 years late. And what’s interesting is that no one seems to care:
Soon the police will always be watching every public move you make:
“A vast system that tracks the comings and goings of anyone driving around the District. … More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time. ..
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles. … The District [of Columbia] … has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well … creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District. … The data are kept for three years in the District. … Police can also plug any license plate number into the database and, as long as it passed a camera, determine where that vehicle has been and when. …”
As prices rapidly fall, this will be widely deployed. Unless there is a public outcry, which seems unlikely at the moment, within twenty years most traffic intersections will probably have tag readers, neighboring jurisdictions will share databases, and so police will basically track all cars all the time. With this precedent, cameras that track pedestrians and people in cars via their faces and gaits will follow within another decade or two…