D4TC: Drone, Prying Eyes, and Big Brothers

Technology has created great advances in surveillance. While jokes about being watched are often used out of humor, it does show that our cavalier attitude towards surveillance is more natural than it used to be. In fact, most people actually expect to be watched or listened to. Some cameras ate visible, like those on our computers that we put a cover over or the red light cameras that make disputing tickets difficult. Others, are more discreet, like the cameras and microphones in our phones or drones that fly thousands of miles above seeking out information and sending it about to whoever flies it.

Calling on Siri, or Ok Google, or any automated system comes at a price none of us really think about. In order to hear our every whim, the microphone of these devices never turns off, and in turn, we are always being listened to.

Our ability to disseminate information faster than ever brings new questions about the ethical and moral components of information sharing. When we see people destroyed by runaway tweets and unearthed indecencies from their teens, our right to privacy is threatened in a way that previous generations have never had to face.

Technology’s growth is not something that can be stopped or should be stopped, and with terrorism and safety scares, surveillance cannot really be diminished, but without laws and boundaries to protect the rights of the people, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the intentions of the inventors, good or bad.

In the Atlantic’s paper, “Eyes over Compton,” we see an entire city being surveilled in a way that benefitted not those citizens whom were at the mercy of violence, but corrupt law officials putting good cops to shame.

This is the future if nothing is done to stop it.

In a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent a civilian aircraft* over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality.

Compton residents weren’t told about the spying, which happened in 2012. “We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting, which unearthed and did the first reporting on this important story.”

Mr. McNutt is advocating that this technology be implemented the police system nationwide. Yet this grave invasion of privacy doesn’t seem at all corruptible? Is video footage not once again a speculation of what one point of view can see? Can it not be doctored and twisted in favor of those doing the surveilling, in this case, the departments?

Whoever is DOING the surveillance, automatically has power over the object of surveillance. You can choose what you want to see. It is easily one of the most corruptible pieces of tech we have today.

AND IT ONLY GETS SCARIER.

In Honor Harger’s article, “Drones Eye View” the use of drones in warfare is questioned ethically. There are artists who use their work to show how invasive drones can be, and the technology is frightening.

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Drone strikes, have been known to gun down or bomb areas in Iraq and Afghanistan, civilian casualties included, but I never knew that the laser targeting system that occurs before a drone strike is called, “The Light of God.”

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Where does it end? Is man desirous of that power of being everywhere? That omnipotence that was attributed to God?

For me, privacy is something that needs to be protected at all costs. If a company or individual gets control over your identity, they essentially control you and all of your interactions. Bodies of power could use this as a form of dominance over their citizenry, and they would be unable to fight back for fear of self-preservation. While I do believe some V for Vendetta like coupe will ensue, I think that measures to keep this from happening should be implemented before it does.

-Week 7

D4TC: The World of Tomorrow

The Hudson yards smart city is currently undergoing construction with some of the world’s leading architects paving the path for the “new New York.”

“Hudson Yards will be the nation’s first ‘quantified community,’ a testing ground for applied urban data science.”

It’s an exciting concept that we might one day live in cities that utilize resources in a way that is sustainable. However, at what cost do these smart cities come? And who are there smart cities for? With 20 million in the renovations, being constructed right off the High Line, one of the richest areas in NY, clearly I am not the demographic. So already we seen an issue. In order to make the cost of these cities feasible, only the super-rich will be able to pay the rent or mortgages of these places. The idea is that eventually the city could be completely renovated in this way, but how long will it take? Will certain measures be removed due to the demographic. Even now in the city you can view issues within communities with lower incomes. Food deserts, places without fresh produce or food that doesn’t come fried are a serious issue. One was you can clearly tell if you’re in a good or better off area is whether you see a Starbucks, or a Whole Foods. In Shannon Mattern’s “Instrument City,” she speaks about the renovations in deeper detail.

The engineered city is not just going to be sophisticated in design, it will be interwoven with circuits that feed data about the successes and failures of it’s design. Everything in this city, from the plant life to the SOIL, will be engineered.

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This may seem like something straight out of Jetsons, but self-sustainable communities exist today, though much less tech heavy. On Natural Living Ideas, you can learn how to build a self-sustaining home, and you can even make it modular. But when you build an entire ecosystem on a preexisting one, what are the ramifications? Have we humans gone too far?

In Mattern’s other work, “Cloud and Field,” she discusses how technology has changed our ability to interact with nature using things such as birdwatching and landscape drawing as examples. Our way of collecting data, using field notes in a journal and sketches, or simple experiments in a very physical sense has changes to drones, satellite information, and it seems that the world goes smaller each day. Places that were untouchable are now visible, even if not physically accessible.

Perhaps it is this lack of sacredness, this lack of not knowing what the environment really contributes to us, and us to it that makes us no longer respect nature. We seem to view our Earth as a tool rather than a delicate habitat. The Old earth is no longer useful, rather a new more tech savvy earth must replace it all the way from vegetation to soil.

WE ignore the reason for the need for technological solutions. Humans have created great waste and pollution on this planet. It is our fault, and this is no secret. So the question now becomes, are the these smart cities a solution?

Or merely, a bandaid?

-Week 6