Doc asked me to list my current prophecies. We had got into one of our typical marathon phone conversations, so I assume it was just a nice way to get me off the phone. But here goes anyway.

They say that, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The nail I see everywhere is transparency unfolding where opaqueness has always been the rule. So everything that seems important to me suggests a new age of transparency.

Let’s start with a concept from last week.

Prophecy 1 · Personal Flight Recorder (PFR)

This one’s especially dramatic because no one’s talking about it, but it gets the transparency Oscar since the PFR is inevitable, imminent, obvious, and requires no one’s permission. I’m amazed that we’re not addressing this change directly because, when you know the world’s about to change, it’s a good time to re-assess your deck chair arrangement project.

Here’s what’s around the corner:

  • Picture Phones will become Video Phones.
  • Video Phones will be connected into the wireless mesh.
  • Audio/Video capture will not be obvious to others, being separated from the phone as the microphone is today. We’ll be stealthy without being sneaky.
  • Copyright holders won’t like it, but we will have the right to capture anything we witness.
  • We will replay and share any part of our personal history we choose to.
  • Within n years, more people will have PFRs than not.

That inevitable sequence means that ours is fated to be a pervasively shared culture. Every action by the police will be captured (by their and others’ PFRs) and subject to public review. Any transgression, real or imagined, will be shared and, probably, published. The most noteworthy exceptions to “conventional” mores will receive the most attention. This will have a chilling effect on a wide range of activities:

  • Crime
    Victims’ and witnesses’ records, subject to subpoena, will probably be published spontaneously.
    Physiological stress indicators will generate a video 911.
    Evidentiary proceedings and their procedural whores will fade away.
  • Media absurdity
    Who needs a traffic reporter when the I-5 webcam is a click away?
    Who needs a talking head when the aggregated record is a click away?
  • Assholes*
    Aggressive drivers, Drama kings & queens, Absurd sports fans, Busybodies, Condo Board martinets.
    Everyone knows an asshole when they see one.
    Most people are not jerks if they can help it.
  • Politics
    The radical right thought sunshine laws and the FOIA were tough!
    We each will have a perfect record of our voting and of irksome political hacks.
  • The non-productive Many.

*Update 8/4/18: ARKit = Asshole Revelation Kit.

Peer Brother is Watching You

That inevitable future may seem bleak, but perhaps only because we haven’t got our head around the effect of decentralized peer-based surveillance. Intermediaries always act contrary to the interests of those for whom they intermediate, so we assume that a video-archived future is through corporate and government surveillance serving the interests of those powerful enough to control the “public” record. That is not what Peer Surveillance will be like.

We cannot predict what shape the Peer Surveillance culture will take, but there’s ample precedent. It will probably  be like a small village where everyone knows everyone else’s business and gossips about what’s most aberrant. Historically, the intrusiveness of busybodies varied inversely with the population of the village. With the whole world capturing the activities of, well, the whole world, maybe we’ll become more tolerant of our peccadilloes as they become so common that they’ll be uninteresting, like chair-throwing on Jerry Springer or hot-tubbing on reality TV.

Perhaps the most chilling effect of the Peer Surveillance culture will be on guilt and whining. We may find that the sins and guilt we carry with us are simply not that rare, outrageous or, worst of all, interesting. Perhaps then we’ll learn to be of real use to each other, and productivity will be the norm rather than the burden of the overtaxed few.

Take Away: The PFR is a HUGE watershed change. We will all be visible, obvious and accountable, not to Big Brother, but to each other. Digital accountability trumps anonymity and is likely to impose small-town values on urban communities. The accountability meme will seep into our thinking and cause us to be civilized without having to be religious. As real-life cause and effect becomes as common as reality TV, we’ll discover together that things actually do make sense and don’t require superstitious thinking.

10:29:53 AM    

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