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And, yes, I DO take it personally: One step closer to the Panopticon - reality intrudes on optimism
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Sunday, January 02, 2011

One step closer to the Panopticon - reality intrudes on optimism

as much as i would like to pursue a thread of optimism in this new year and as much as i'd like to keep the ugliness of current reality at bay, i guess i'm not genetically equipped to stick my head in the sand...

when i was last in afghanistan, i noted a surveillance dirigible hovering over kabul that i hadn't seen in any of my previous visits... my afghan friends told me that it had been there for just a few months but, despite being a new arrival on the kabul scene, they had been a common sight over u.s. military bases around the country for a couple of years... here's a photo i took of it a year ago september...


the local wisdom was that it was loaded with surveillance equipment and that our emails were probably being scrutinized on a regular basis... while we all chuckled at that possibility, i, for one, had little doubt that was the case...

interestingly enough, the previous june and july, after i had bought my rv and parked it in an rv park close to my son's house, i became acquainted with an air force officer and his family whose rv was parked across from mine... he was on his way to train to fly unmanned drones and ultimately to be stationed at an air force base in the southwest... as appalled as i am at the whole concept of death and destruction no matter what form it takes and particularly when it's delivered remotely by a pilot comfortably ensconced 10,000 miles away, i was nonetheless able to suppress my feelings, maintain a cordial relationship and learn a little bit about what he was going to be doing... as a result, he's kept me on his general info mailing list and i found out that he recently started flying the next generation drone, the mq9 reaper (see my previous post here)...


in today's wapo, i see that yet another next generation drone, the "gorgon stare," has been announced...
This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.

The system, made up of nine video cameras mounted on a remotely piloted aircraft, can transmit live images to soldiers on the ground or to analysts tracking enemy movements. It can send up to 65 different images to different users; by contrast, Air Force drones today shoot video from a single camera over a "soda straw" area the size of a building or two.

i have no doubt this rapid high-tech evolution will continue and, as with all defense and war-spurred innovations, will soon be commonplace tools for domestic use... just one step closer to the panopticon...
The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the incarcerated being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience."

Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example."

great news for the new year, eh what...?

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