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I'm GMing RPG game based on Stars Without Numbers, but its happening on my personal world. It's in the 36th century of our universe and humans are colonizing planets within the galaxy.

In the far future CCTV and other monitoring equipment are very cheap and easy to install, also AI and similar programs make analyzing all recordings a trivial task. Why, in that situation, would the government NOT use it for mass surveillance? Also how to stop private people and corporations from using it apart from outright banning it?

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    $\begingroup$ I hate to be the one, but can you point out why the most obvious solution of privacy laws isn't applicable? $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Feb 10 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ Because CCTV hasn't stopped crime from happening. It cannot prevent it, just record it and apparently that doesn't hinder criminals from doing what they set out to do. $\endgroup$ – at_ Feb 10 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Because "that which holds the image of an angel becomes itself an angel" . . . and who wants to be sent a couple hundred years in the past? $\endgroup$ – Drigan Feb 11 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ Why would you use CCTV when your satellites already provide real-time feed world-wide? What are you? A cavemen? Att: A citzien from the 36th century. $\endgroup$ – Roberto Feb 11 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Guywithjewels'names Just because our legal system is a disaster doesn't mean that a future one will be a disaster in the same way. $\endgroup$ – user3482749 Feb 11 at 11:51

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It became a controlled technology when the risk became greater than the reward

Why, in that situation, would the government NOT use it for mass surveillance?

Fifteen centuries is a LOT of time for people to find and execute ways of exploiting AI driven surveillance systems. By then they will have been used by school shooters to ID and track targets, by terrorists to assassinate world leaders using smart weapons, they will have been used to automatically steal people's identities by reading information off of things in their hands, military secrets have been leaked because someone decided to proof-read a report while waiting at a bus stop. They will have been used to automatically find behavioral patterns that suggest people are cheating on their spouses so that you can blackmail people you've never even met, there are even websites where you can just type in someone's name, and the system will start sampling video of them to generate pornographic deep fakes or sex bots of them. As the technology becomes more prolific, the number of people with the knowledge base to exploit it grows until the harm it does is clearly more detrimental than any gain.

As the harmfulness of surveillance increases; so to will its utility decrease. Once a deep fake can no longer be differentiated from real footage, shady defense lawyers just need to start submitting their own versions of events to cast doubt on any video or photos submitted by prosecution and vise versa. Heck, this is so far in the future, criminals probably walk around with portable holographic projectors that can create a bubble of false narrative without ever needed to hack a single system. Together, these will lead to video and photos becoming inadmissible as evidence.

Then there is the issue of whether it makes cops more effective as a response tool. Most "crimes" go unreported because no one wants to press charges. If a person forgets their keys and has to break into their own home, there is no reason for the cops to show up. If a husband hits his wife and the wife does not want to press charges, there's not much the cops can do. If a person causes damage to property that is worth less than a lawsuit, then you are just wasting a cop's time filling out the paperwork. And that is just the time you waste before you account for forged footage. If you can only budget for so much law enforcement, then it makes more sense to dispatch them to places where you expect their efforts to result in a conviction which means going places where crimes have been reported by a person, not just a nosy AI.

Between these factors, video surveillance becomes more of a hindrance than a help as a crime enforcement tool.

In short, public surveillance systems will become the 36th century equivalent to leaded gasoline, asbestos, or blood letting. The tech might still be there in certain contexts, but the very idea that anyone ever thought it's widespread use was at one point a good idea seems borderline satirical.

Also how to stop private people and corporations from using it apart from outright banning it?

The best way to limit it without banning it is by making it something you need a license or permit for. This way, the right to place a surveillance cameras becomes more akin to owning a concealed firearms license. It's not that hard to aquire, but there is enough cost and red-tape associated with it that you start to only see cameras where they are actually needed.

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    $\begingroup$ I recently watched a defcon video about copying keys (physical keys) from a photo. Those house keys dangling on your keychain? Someone can take a photo of it and make a key. Social media photos are really bad too. $\endgroup$ – Nelson Feb 11 at 10:33
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    $\begingroup$ @PaulSmith: So most card theft is done by people you know yourself? And why is that a reason to stop this? I don't get the point of your comment $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Feb 12 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Zaibis - My point was simply to provide two additional examples of counter-productive surveillance in support of an excellent answer. $\endgroup$ – Paul Smith Feb 12 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @PaulSmith: I got that. But I would like to udnerstand your example. As the example you make sounds neither logical nor related (as I don't get how the surveiliance here would be the reason for having stopped it). So again: Why would they stop it after they figured out its succesfully catching card thiefs? $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Feb 12 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ to simply see on cam a guy doing stuff you don't want him to do - @OlegV.Volkov I think the point of this answer is, the camera becomes irrelevant because that guy is carrying around technology that either fakes the camera out to make his actions look normal, Or it hides his presence totally, or misdirects your attention elsewhere, or otherwise defeats it. $\endgroup$ – dwizum Feb 12 at 17:28
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For the same reason it's a bad idea in the present world: anyone who can get access to the surveillance network will have the same world of information as you do, but their goals will rarely be aligned with yours.

Sure, the cameras are useful for public safety, finding criminals, and monitoring those in need. They're also useful for identifying high value targets, finding weaknesses in security measures, and blinding those who rely on it too much. And if there are AIs to process all of the information streams in real time, both the risks and rewards increase dramatically.

Ubiquitous surveillance means you can always find your enemies, and your enemies can always find you. Best to keep surveillance systems separate, specific, and only mildly useful.

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    $\begingroup$ See Person Of Interest for some interesting examples of inter-AI conflict within a ubiquitous surveillance network. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 11 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't that just mean the criminals will build a surveillance network which the government won't have access to? $\endgroup$ – user253751 Feb 11 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ @user253751 if it is cheap to do so, absolutely. And so will all the Tech Giants of the 36th century, unless it is specifically illegal. $\endgroup$ – Jontia Feb 11 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ Also just spying on friends/family/neighbors in general, without further crime intended. Most people keep at least some secrets from some people, which could ruin relationships/lives if they became public (eg. don't want neighbors/coworkers to know your kinky fetish; don't want best friend to know you hate her paintings; don't want uncle to know you're gay; etc) $\endgroup$ – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 11 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @user253751: Any criminal who is willing to set up a 24/7 recording of their crimes is not a criminal with enough money to set up a mass surveillance network. Sure, the government doesn't have access to it by default, but as soon as they get on law enforcement's radar the criminal's surveillance network becomes a bigger and bigger risk. $\endgroup$ – Giter Feb 11 at 14:02
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Everybody is wearing face masks to cope with the various viral pathogens floating around. Real or imagined. Indeed, they are wearing not just surgical masks, but full face masks covering the eyes. Since it seems the latest corona virus can enter through the eyes.

So facial recognition becomes worthless. Indeed, it might become the fashion to decorate the masks with the face of famous people. So every facial recognition AI starts seeing "Elvis" and "Marilyn Monroe" on every street corner.

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One possibility:

Privacy laws

For some reasons humans got really fed up with constantly being monitored, so they simply started protesting and voting until a government got into power which did something about it. The government did not ban it outright, but made the rules and regulations of creating/owning someones personal data on video such a pain that only a select few organisations are able to comply with the rules. For example everyone would need to give explicit consent before being recorded. Definitely not worth the effort on a large scale.

Another would be:

Bureaucracy

Related to the above. As you stated, this takes place throughout the galaxy, what if the rules are so that data can only be analysed on earth or one specific planet? Or has to be analysed specifically by humans do prevent errors? Sending large data transfers throughout the galaxy will take time, and might not be viable on such a large scale.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's actualy quite smart, given no instant data link. $\endgroup$ – Guy with jewels' names Feb 10 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ Instant data links might not be as easy to achieve as you might think, even in the far future. But that would be a different question. $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 10 at 16:29
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Nobody trusts video footage

It's so trivially easy to fake footage, insert false video into camera systems or otherwise fool surveillance that video footage is worthless.

It's not admissable in court, and even petty shoplifters know how to deepfake someone else's face onto theirs as they steal. If you're robbed, even having clear footage is no guarantee you know who robbed you or how.

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    $\begingroup$ "even petty shoplifters know how to deepfake someone else's face onto theirs as they steal" - that could only happen if they hacked into your camera system. $\endgroup$ – user253751 Feb 11 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ In that example yeah. The idea is that several different technologies exist that can easily defeat video surveillance. If hacking is a bridge too far, maybe there are cheap infrared torches that blind cameras. $\endgroup$ – user72058 Feb 11 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ @user253751 I think he meant that any petty thief can now believably claim that the store is trying to frame him with a deepfake. $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 12 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok that'd be the main reason it wouldn't be admissible in court, yes. But if it was impossible for a thief to defeat the cameras, there's still be value to having them: you could be sure who was robbing you, even if it wasn't valid proof. So ideally, thieves should also be able to interfere somehow, maybe by pre-rendering a deepfaked scene and inserting it into the camera memory (one possibility) $\endgroup$ – user72058 Feb 14 at 20:39
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The Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex has a character who manages to remove his face from all recordings from cameras in real time:

He is an expert hacker, able to hide his physical presence by editing himself out of video feeds and cybernetic eyes, concealing his identity by superimposing an animated logo over his face, and hijacking cybernetic brains altogether, all in real-time.

In the Watch Dogs series of games, the protagonist is also able to evade detection by CCTV cameras while being in plain view.

In real life, people have successfully interfered with facial recognition software by using carefully tailored makeup on their faces.


The kind of security we're talking about is always a cat-and-mouse chasing game between those who wish to gather data and those who wish to remain anonymous. If you get enough people educated about CCTV's and they don't want to be seen, then the ones with the cameras will be playing a losing game.

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A few ideas

A: The world is populated by clones, everyone looks the same. Video surveillance is effectively useless

B: The everyone in the population suffers from visage fluidity — their entire appear spontaneously transmogrifies every few hours. Video surveillance is effectively meaningless

C: Everyone is invisible in the spectrum of EM radiation the camera sensors can capture. Video surveillance only shows a bunch of doors opening and empty jogging suits running down the street.

D: Every body is super radioactive and emits ionizing radiation that fully saturates at camera sensor. Cameras only show bright fizzly sparkles when some is imaged.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, for A this concept appears in Architects of Emorality by STABLEFORD, Brian Except that their issue was that genetic tweaking to make everyone beautiful made them very uniform. I guess the Lego movie also kindof does this too because the guy is so generic everyone matches with him. $\endgroup$ – Fering Feb 11 at 15:23
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Because democracy works in the 36th century and the majority of citizens voted against it.

cue incessant laughter

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  • $\begingroup$ That! That could very easliy explain why many other things are going so well. $\endgroup$ – Guy with jewels' names Feb 11 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry but this answer is just too far out there. maybe go with the fact that we collectively forgot all photo and video technology? $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 12 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok I always thought Worldbuilding welcomes creative thinking! $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Feb 12 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MonkeyZeus it was meant to be a joke, I like your answer as it's straight to the point, logically consistent and perfectly plausible (if your setting is a democratic utopia). Was just poking fun at the world in general :) $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 13 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok No worries, that's exactly how I read your comment! My reply was meant to be read very light-heartedly $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Feb 13 at 12:52
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A world like that could easily appear if taking photos of people was a cultural taboo. For example, if a wide-spread religion on the planet believes that if any photos of a person exist it will prevent them from being at peace in the afterlife, then it would be impossible for the government to implement surveillance without widespread revolt. Cultural conformity would strongly discourage individuals and corporations from implementing any surveillance, even if it wasn't outright illegal.

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"We fought a civil war not to have cameras!"

People have talked about rights, but here is now you could have it in a more believable way than just "rights". What if it went too far.

Over years and centuries surveillance grew. There were cameras in businesses, then in public streets. Soon enough there were cameras in our homes. An AI network watched everyone, and automatically wrote you a ticket for jay walking, or smoking a cigarette in your own house.

Things got worse. There were morality laws declared. Cameras were added in bathrooms. The AIs would write tickets for not saying "bless you" or for running the water for over 15 seconds when washing your hands.

There was the day people had too much. Everyone tore cameras out of their homes and burned them in bonfires. Then they marched on the streets tearing down cameras. Riot police was called in. Things went down very V For Vendetta. In the end the people marched on the government and demanded a ban on cameras.

In a month all security cameras were gone. At least from anything that's not a private business considered high security, never being placed where it may record a non employee, and it's video could only be reviewed in combination with a warrant.

These days video surveillance is a word like slavery or genocide. An unspeakable evil people died to stop.

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The top reason surveillance isn't adopted now is cost.

Not the cost of cameras, which can be very cheap. In addition to those cameras you need storage - which can get expensive. You will also need transmitters, power (this stops many police departments who insist on dedicated transmitters, or pay engineering firms for custom solutions). There's a non-trivial amount of system architecture also involved : what does the camera do when connecting to the central server is impossible - does it try backup communication methods, compressing local storage, alternative destinations, increasing the spacing between frames or decreasing resolution to increase the time until local storage is full.

Especially in space, where time delays can be extensive and clocks can mismatch due to gravitational and velocity-based relativistic effects, it would be good not to trivialize how much effort is required to get reliable (authenticated and high quality) data into the system.

On the server side there's also a lot of decision-making (and cost). How do sensors prove who they are? What do you do with data that has arrived out of time because of broken communication? What do you do with multiple pieces of data claiming to come from the same device and time? Can anyone edit videos? How is access to the server auditable so that you can trust that what's on the server isn't deepfake? How do you associate metadata (officers and device, location and device)? How do you search through the video? What processes grainy or poor video? What do you do with the raw feed? Keep it, in case of questions? Dump it?

Who maintains the cameras - cleaning dirty ones and servicing or repairing broken ones? How do you know which cameras need attention?

Especially as the volume increases : processing raw data to add meta, fix errors, and searching become the greatest single costs.

Cost could be driven way down by a shrink-wrapped solution. However, most places want some custom answer to these questions, which usually costs more than most organizations want to pay. Even shrink wrapped, the operating cost is high - which is why many places install highly visible cameras of such poor quality as to be essentially useless.

Here's an idea of how this scales : Bandwidth = resolution x frame rate x number of cameras.

For a simple building with a hundred cameras, Macintosh 120 frames per second, and 3 megapixels, that's 3.6 Gb per second. Running that building for one year generates 108 million Gb of raw video on disks. That's only a single building with a modest number of cameras. Scale this up even further to a single planet of a modest 7 billion buildings, and now the total is very close to the number of molecules in 22 liters of gas, and approaching real physical limits on data density. But add in 9 planets and maybe 100 moons, dwarf planets, smaller bodies, and a few thousand ships and vessels in a single solar system - that's a lot. And it wouldn't be cheap.

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    $\begingroup$ Those cameras are WAY over-specced for this kind of system, and 100 cameras per building is not modest at all (unless you are talking about large multi-story office buildings). You also forgot to account for compression algorithms. Most people can not tell a video is choppy until you drop below 12fps; so, a 3MP camera using something comparable to H.264 compression can store 1 week's worth of data in ~300 GB. Even using modern technology, that is only about 10$ of disk space per camera. 1500 years in the future, I can't even speculate to how trivial that amount of storage is going to be. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ It's a science fiction setting. I felt like multi-story office building is modest, but could be wrong. Didn't forget compression - left it out intentionally because it adds to the processing to load and unload. I did go into paragraphs about some of the options available to trade quality for cost. But in same sci-fi setting because of digital forgery, quality might be non-negotiable $\endgroup$ – James McLellan Feb 10 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki-ReinstateMonica, assume a ten story building apartment building with a main entrance, rear entrance, and two fire exists which are at the bottom of the stairwells. Just for the stairwells, a camera inside the stairwell on each floor. That's 20 cameras in the stairs alone. One at each end of the hall each floor. That's 40. One at the main elevator bank on each floor. That's 50. And that's assuming each floor is a single corridor end to end. Add a slightly more complicated setup other than a straight corridor and I can easily see getting to 100 easily. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Feb 11 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ When you mentioned 7 billion I assumed you meant 7 billion residences not 7 billion buildings averaging 10 stories each. Given the latter, you are looking at 100 camera per building that probably has 150-300 residents. If your budget is based on taxation, that is still pretty darn cheap since your resource availability will be based on a person-to-camera ratio which should become better as you make living conditions more crowded. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Feb 11 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ "In addition to those cameras you need storage - which can get expensive." You haven't priced 21TB HDDs lately, nor seen how storage density has skyrocketed in just 40 years. (In 1980, you bought a 5MB HDD which was the size of a dictionary.) Imagine the improvements in 1500 years. Ditto network speeds. And automated detection and repair of faulty parts. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Feb 11 at 17:32
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Because enough people wander around with T-shirts depicting the Langford Death Parrot (or equivalent that works on the AI monitors) that monitoring CCTV becomes too dangerous.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a purely fictitious approach. Viruses embedded in image files used to be common practice which got sensationalized into people thinking pixel data could contain a virus, but it can not. What those viruses did was exploit the file structure of older image types to execute arbitrary code after the pixel data. Now a-days, the whole scope of image files are read only; so, there is nothing to execute. Also contemporary AIs use optimal stopping patterns to prevent any infinite loops you might try to create through pattern processing. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Feb 12 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki-ReinstateMonica well of course it's fictitious. The justification in the BLIT stories was basically "handwave, invoke Gödel's incompleteness theorem, handwave" and lo and behold there's your brain-crashing basilisk. (Although in these stories it operates more like Medusa in that it kills when you look at it, rather than a basilisk which kills when it looks at you) $\endgroup$ – user66717 Feb 12 at 22:17
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From the mind of Charles Stross:

In order to prevent a hacker emulating a basilisk attack using the in-built FPGAs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yay, you beat me to it! For non Stross readers, the original concept was to have a Basilisk attack (turn victims to stone) built in for civil defense in case of attack by things from other worlds. But anything connected to a network can be hacked. $\endgroup$ – Graham Feb 11 at 8:46
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Because it is unnecessary

A lot of answers here give very good reasons why it wouldn't exist, because it became not feasible anymore (due to moral or technical circumstances) which all work quite well.

But here's my different approach which is rooted in it being surpassed by a better method. Which is IMHO the only realistic way that authoritarian technologies will be discontinued in this world.

Picture that: everyone has a chip implanted at birth. You need this chip for everything, shopping, transport, getting into ANY area (the world devolved into basically nothing but gated areas joined together) so except for the uncivilized wastelands there is no way for an unchipped person to be within the city.

Now, since you always know where who is anyways with these chips, WHY go through the hassle of installing widespread video surveillance? It's just unnecessary.

Sure, like supermarkets akin to the queless Amazon stores will probably still have cameras, but those spots will be few and far between

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    $\begingroup$ I was coming here to post something like this. Think of Shadowrun, where everyone broadcasts their SIN at all times (or they're supposed to anyways). In Shadowrun they use cameras in conjunction with this, but you could easily have a world where chips have supplanted cameras for mass surveillance purposes. Make the implanted chip passive (like NFC) and read-only (manufactured with its unique identifier). Once implanted (deeply in the body, not just subdermally), it takes some very non-trivial surgery to remove it... $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Feb 12 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ If a patrolling officer (or a police drone) spot someone walking by who doesn't scan, they're going to be very interested in that person. Sure you can get black market chips, but if you implant multiple chips (useful for inferring position and facing) it's more surgery, and obtaining multiple black market chips and a surgeon willing to do the (very illegal) work would be ridiculously difficult, and then if those counterfeits scan with an invalid identifier, or with an identifier that obviously doesn't match the bearer, you're right back in the same scenario. $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Feb 12 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ Skip the chips. In 1500 years we will have tech which can read the sensory memory right out of the spectator's grey matter. If that tech is also able to read from a distance, all civilized areas can be blanketed by them. The police officer won't ask the tech to show him the feed from camera 22. He'll ask her to sample the visual memories of everyone within 5 blocks, including those of the perpetrator. Try to run away from your own eyes. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Feb 17 at 4:18
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There is a theoretical practical limit to the amount of surveillance you can do effectively

Artificial Intelligence has a hard limit: the human interface

Even a super-advanced AI still has to be given instructions from humans (what to look for) and communicate its results and alerts to a human. The AI will have to contend with vague and conflicting rules created by humans. When you have very large amounts of footage to work with, even an infinitely intelligent AI will still have to be able to articulate to its human handlers what exactly is suspicious about a particular alert in the footage. When you have a million hours of footage a day, the AI will have to discard thousands of hours of mildly suspicious footage in order to display all the really suspicious footage.

Who Watches The Watchers?

Governments, individuals, and corporations may find, that even with the help of AI, there is an asymptotic limit to the number of surveillance cameras that can be effectively watched without the watchers and the watcher's bosses being overwhelmed by false negatives and false positives, driven by errors, biases, hidden agendas, and direct adversarial attacks.

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well, have you ever been to a place called China? I was born in a small city there, and I have been living in Australia and Canada for the last decade. Every time I go back, I see more and more security cameras everywhere. The traffic light outside my parents apartment building is holding 11 cameras! And government officials have access to your social app data, even all these companies are private. And hence now people there reply heavily on those apps, such as wechat for everyday living (purchase anything you need for example), the government knows what you eat and when you eat stuff. In addition, the national ID card has been implemented since day 1 of the country, so they know where you are, who you are with etc.

I think BBC did an experiment in Shanghai, asking the police using AI powered facial recognition to locate a person in Shanghai while asking the person to commute in the highest population dense areas, it took the police less than 15 min.

On one end, this has made China extremely safe,if a thieve wants to pick a lock or someone's bike? Most likely they can be located within days. But when it comes to "rights and freedom", you better hope your individualism aligns well with the scope of the government.

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  • $\begingroup$ But you aren't answering OPs question. He knows about the benefits (and how it's already spreading aroung the world) but wants to know how to realistically NOT have it everywhere $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 12 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ yes, sorry I got carried away $\endgroup$ – ML33M Feb 12 at 21:16
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traditional camera are old and quaint.

They switched to full 3d scanners that can probably even read your DNA from a distance.

Also total visual reconstruction from a single strand of DNA.

Masks and other primitive techniques will all fail.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a form of surveillance. The question is asking for an explanation for why there could be a lack of surveillance. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Feb 12 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @RobWatts no, it never stipulated a total lack of surveillance, just a lack of cameras, CCTV, and "other monitoring equipment", which seems primarily directed at visual recordings. That may rule out the 3D scanner part, but the DNA-reading concept on its own can still stand. $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Feb 12 at 21:55
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Liability, incompetent law writing makes it a crime not to turn in video footage of criminals. Sure you didn't review the video and no one knew who the criminal was at the time, but at the end of the year when the local cops come to archive your footage...

Eh mate, looks like you had caught the Rotterdam Kidnapper on camera but didn't turn 'em in. That's a felony don'tcha know. That'll be 1000 future bucks or 7.543 space years in the prison chamber.

To avoid the fines insurance companies mandate 0 cameras on businesses they cover.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting concept, but this doesn't cover the proliferation of government-installed cameras (such as is already happening in China and some other... less "free" places) $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Feb 12 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ This exact example does not work with AI monitored camera systems. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Feb 12 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ It does if the person that was seen to be a criminal was not known to be one until afterward. I'm thinking it was a poorly written law that got turned into a shakedown. $\endgroup$ – user72300 Feb 12 at 22:07
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Crime is how civilization copes with bad laws. Both in that it ameliorates them and in that it gathers the data needed to discover they're bad and get rid of them. So long as law-makers are fallible, too much law enforcement breaks civilizations. Imagine what would happen to Earth's scientific research if everyone who used sci-hub got caught.

And prosecutorial discretion is no solution, because it invites too much corruption.

The first dozen planets to implement total surveillance refused to believe this. They collapsed. Billions of people died. In some cases, the planets themselves were rendered uninhabitable. People still tell horror stories about the law-enforcement nanites of Elbulon D, hopefully all destroyed when its star was deliberately supernovad, but if even one survived and reaches an inhabited planet...

But the thirteenth planet to reach that potential, blessed with detailed recordings of the first dozen collapses, held back. They deliberately underpowered their police.

Successive governments have shown varying degrees of wisdom. Enough for data-driven sociologists to calculate the ideal effectiveness of law enforcement. And universal surveillance, while not a death sentence for a civilization, is still substantially too much.

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There's ZERO reasons for that.

Not a single advancement/technology that increases control ever fell into disuse for any reason in all humanity's history and I don't see it happening 1500 years later.

In some points in the past, when such systems couldn't be mass-produced and were one-off you could've a plausible excuse of losing know-how of closely guarded secret for such surveillance with the death/assassination of key inventors behind it. But today it is out of question for a long time already: the information is just too widespread.

Mass-surveillance provides way too much advantages. If any government won't use it for some insane reason, it will simply fall at the hands of another big agent - other government or corporation - who won't have such reservations.

It's pretty much the same with power projection advancements, like modern weapons: if you won't use them - you will fall to those who do.

Not using those is pretty much giving up on your continued existence as relevant entity.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for no answer. Also you're wrong, because there already are a lot of good answers here $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 12 at 10:28
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    $\begingroup$ "Not a single advancement/technology that increases control ever fell into disuse for any reason" citation needed. Off the top of my head, I can think of a long list of control technologies that have fallen into disuse. Usually because they were replaced by something better, they became easy to defeat, or the thing they were designed to protect wasn't important any more. Basically, what all the other answers say. $\endgroup$ – dwizum Feb 12 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ You can do better than that. This is one of the worst answers I have ever seen. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Feb 12 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok That's only if wishful thinking about world of rainbow ponies where everyone "outlaws" cams or have "magic unavoidable technology" that block cams and cams just SOMEHOW don't have similar anti-technology is good for you. $\endgroup$ – Oleg V. Volkov Feb 12 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ @OlegV.Volkov This question literally says surveillance cameras and CCTV and then asks specifically why not to use those things for mass surveillance. It does seem to be asking specifically about those technical means. I don't disagree with you that there will always be a desire for surveillance in the general sense, and one technology becoming irrelevant doesn't mean that desire stops. $\endgroup$ – dwizum Feb 13 at 13:49

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