Trope-a-Day: Big Brother Is Watching

Big Brother Is Watching: And his name, in the Empire, is Citizen Oversight.

Subverted, rather, inasmuch as it’s not principally a law enforcement instrumentality.  It, and its extensive surveillance/geolocation/other-sensory grid, drones, etc. – in public spaces only, and privately-owned-but-open-to-the-public don’t count (i.e., those places where, by law and custom, you have no expectation of privacy) – and its data mining/correlation application exist primarily to provide the raw data feed that gets broken down into the statistical information that even a government as minimal as the Empire’s needs to keep things running efficiently.  (Indeed, Citizen Oversight is not part of the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity with the other law enforcement/security instrumentalities; it’s under the Ministry of the Empire, instead, which mostly handles civic infrastructure functions and includes the Protectorate of Balance, Externality, and the Commons.)

They do, however, have non-sophont AI monitors watching the raw feed which will drop a line to the Watch Constabulary if they see a need for police or paramedics, or to the Emergency Management Authority, or to the people responsible for doing maintenance on public property, and so on and so forth.

Subverted doubly inasmuch as this is by no means a private government grid; under the Transparency Act – and because it helps to pay for it – it’s available for use by any member of the public who wants it, from advertisers, journalists, sousveillants and bloggers to the old lady down the street, with the commensurate uses they find for it in play.

It is to be noted that this isn’t supposed to be dystopian, nor would the notion that it might be even occur to anyone there – despite the fact that I, for one, wouldn’t trust any Earth government with even a fraction of this kind of panopticon.  In a culture that is both vastly more freewheeling than ours in most ways (and strongly maintains the notion in etiquette of not interfering in that which is not your proper concern) and which supports a much smaller and less intrusive government… well, the locals like the notion that ambulances will be dispatched to accidents before they’re done happening, that the police will always be called as soon as possible, that problems are reported instantly, that all the advertising they see is relevant to their interests, etc.

3 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Big Brother Is Watching

  1. Pingback: Trope-a-Day: Instant Emergency Response | The Eldraeverse

  2. Interesting, though if I’m honest i wouldn’t trust any human or indeed human like sophont or even the most advanced of intelligent beings with the level of power and control this could provide. its quite a frightening concept honestly, though i imagine the Eldrae has attempted to do away with the kinds of desires and flaws that would make something like this panopticon as dangerous as it could be. that being said, id be concerned with the emergent effects of such editing. do the Eldrae have an archive of baseline backups just in case they bungle that kind of editing? or has the For Science! attitude overridden that caution?

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    • Well, sure, there’re plenty of genome archives around the place – that’s just good practice. But for this sort of thing in practice, diversity tends to be the answer. It’s not like there’s a central genome planning board, or something – mods are developed by thousands of independent inventors and businesses.

      Long before any sort of neurohack – or any other type of mod, for that matter – makes it into the alpha baseline, or even is generally recommended, it’s been invented, beta-tested, sent back to formula, re-betaed, run past focus groups, released to preview users, discussed on Postsophont Consumer Review, interaction-trialled, etc., etc., and eventually put into limited-scale production by at least half-a-dozen small groups. If something’s going to go wrong, it has every imaginable opportunity to do so on a small scale first long before it has a chance to crop up everywhere.

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