Sunday, April 13, 2014

A policeman wearing google glasses interviews you...

In the near future, you might face an interview with a policeman or woman wearing the google glasses. How might it go?

First he/she might ask you your name.

The glasses have access to images of you from various databases. If you give a false name he will know  straight away.

Let's say you are on a train. He might ask where you are off to today.

The ticket you carry has a unique number linked to your identity. He will know where you boarded the train. 

He might ask where you work.

Linked to the tax office database, he will have your complete work history. 

What changes with the glasses is the immediacy. Especially in identifying you.

Much of crime fiction is nostalgic. Typically (e.g. Rebus) the detective is an older male, quite uncomfortable with technology. He relies on younger people around him to make use of it. Even then, not a great deal of surveillance is employed. There might be some trawling through CCTV footage. Is the past somehow more human? Or just more familiar?

The availability of real-time tracking of individuals changes the nature of police work quite a bit. No more sitting in cars waiting for signs of activity. Just task a drone to watch, and follow when the person leaves. As the NSA could no doubt tell us, things change quite a bit when the default is to track everything. Encounter a new person of interest? You can look at their movements around the city for the past hour, the past week or even the past year.

In writing "Murder in the Fabric", which is set in Melbourne in 2020, I wanted to explore the nature of police work in the near future. Of course this space is dominated by 'Minority Report' where somehow the technology is aware of crimes even before they take place. I can't see this happening anytime - the real world is incredibly complex. I'm inclined to think of those famous lines on chaos theory in "Jurassic Park".

Immediacy with massive computing power, together with the "store all" option makes for radical changes. I've tried to give some examples.

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