Chuck, I do get what you are saying. You are suggesting that law enforcement agencies should be denied a useful tool because other, less benign organizations could use the same tools against you, in some indeterminate future. You could use the same argument to demand that lew enforcement officers not be allowed to carry guns. I choose to disagree, mainly because I am concerned with the present, not just the future, and the risk of my government suddenly denying my basic freedoms, while not impossible, is less than the risk posed to my lifestyle and society by the criminal, and in my case especially, the terrorist elements. And no, I don't smoke.
Man, you're not getting it! Maybe, just MAYBE, your idea of "crime" and their idea of "crime" differ at some point in the future. Didn't you read "1984"? Technology is neither "good" nor "bad". It's how it's used that makes it one or the other (or maybe neither). What you see as a terrific thing NOW may not seem so terrific when at some point, a few years down the road, something you like to do is declared "bad" and they decide to round up, or maybe just keep an eye on, those who participate in it. What's a better way to keep an eye on folks than having eyes everywhere?
Now do you understand?
Example: 50 years ago cigarettes were popular. Then they became unpopular. Then they became shunned. Then they became unlawful in some designated areas, subject to penalties for infraction. The natural next step is that they become illegal, period. Then anyone who smokes is subject to arrest and prosecution. I don't smoke, but maybe you do, or your wife/husband/friend does.
Nobody could debate that they're unhealthy, but so could snowboarding be unhealthy. Want to ban that, and arrest violators?
Back to the point: ubiquitous cameras just make a police state way more convenient to implement. There is no way I'm going to take the erosion of my personal freedoms lightly. Is there a potential cost to limiting surveillance? Sure. There's a potential cost to crossing the street. I pay it every day; it's a worthwhile tradeoff for the freedom to live the way I want.
I fear you cannot understand what I am saying. I am sure you are not alone. And since the majority rules in Western society, your point of view may well win out. It happened in Germany in the 1920s-1930s, and it could easily happen again somewhere else. But I hope not. I can take solace in this: If it happens, it's not because I didn't point out the dangers. I spoke out for the communists (actually, I don't like communists, but that's nuance).
Chuck, seems to me you watch too many cheap movies. My government isn't interested in me because I don't represent a threat, and they are democratic enough to allow me freedom of press, speech, and criticism (I live outside the US).
I do expect law enfocement agencies to make full use of surveillance to deter, identify, and prosecute criminals. The benefit to me and to my society far outweighs the risks. Of course, if I lived in a totalitarian regime I'd reach a different conclusion, but you and I live in the freeiest societies on the planet (and where I live, I can even drop an F-bomb on TV or radio without the FCC coming after me...)
I've gotta agree with you Chuck. I was on the border in Northern Ireland a number of years ago. There were cameras everywhere and machine gun nets with .50 Cal guns arming various checkpoints. Yes, those cameras and guns were there to protect me, but I would have felt safer without them.
I most certainly do have a problem with that, and you should, too. Think about it. Atomic power was developed to provide a clean, near-unlimited energy source. It became our greatest nightmare. What was the problem? The tech? Or the application? Are you so certain that this all-seeing-eye of a future Big Brother cannot possibly be misused? Fat chance. I'm not sure that it is not already being misused, we just haven't learned about it yet.
Cell phones are so ubiquitous that we no longer make phone calls to houses- we call people. It's hard to argue that's not a major advance forward, right? But think about that opinion the next time some bozo in front of you misses the green light yakking on his/her cell phone and you wait an extra 4 minutes for the next green. Nothing wrong with the tech- it's what folks do with it.
It's all a matter of balance and common sense. I see precious little in our present government to bolster my confidence that politicians have any of either commodity.
I'm not some armageddon militia-man with a stash of M-16s and canned peaches in my garage, by the way. Just a cantankerous old fool who's getting tired of seeing such obvious problems being ignored when they could be curtailed with logic and common sense before they grow into a real issue. And here we sit thanking the government for taking away more of our freedoms.
The cameras are definitely watching me, and they're watching you too. You'd better hope that your car and your appearance don't match some pattern they are looking for today, because the next step is real-time monitoring as a new wave of "proactive" policing becomes popular. Don't assume this is the end game. It's just a step. If we'll accept this, what else will we put up with?
About a year ago, or maybe a bit more, a friend sent a photo showing a huge crowd that was blocks long, at some sort of rally, I think. The suggestion was to zoom in using my computer, which showed that it was possible to recognize faces in the photo that were almost two blocks away just by zooming in enough. That is probably better than most of the best film camers could do. So that kind of technology is already available for those who want to buy it.
But the enhanced security should be done by the private businesses, not by the government, for two reasons: First, because the government will be wasting money just like they often do, and second, because letting the private businesses do it will avoid letting the government avoid wasting their time and money when there is nothing to see. That is the government way.
I believe a big individual decision factor in this debate tends to be each person's trust/mistrust level of our government. If you trust in our government and believe that it is a good entity that is non-intrusive and protects people, then you may be a proponent of more surveillance cameras to protect us from extremists. If you mistrust the government and believe that too much surveillance could result in a Orwellian or (or even worse) state then you may be wary of too much intrusion from the government.
At some point, there needs to be a healthy balance between the security of the citizens and the individual privacy and rights of the people.
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