Ubiquitous Computing has Built Ultimate Surveillance Society
By Daniel Taylor
In 2008 Old-Thinker News asked the question: “Will ubiquitous computing build an ultimate surveillance society?” Indeed, four years later ubiquitous computing, also known as the “Internet of things”, has been announced as a total surveillance network by David Patraeus, director of the CIA.
Consumer appliances are now becoming activated and “smart.” RFID chips and wireless internet connections enable devices like televisions, refrigerators, printers, computers, etc. to communicate with each other and generally make life easier for us. This comes at a price, however. Your privacy is eliminated.
Consumer convenience is a central selling point for ubiquitous computing technology. The well established consumer base for mobile devices was discussed at the March 2008 International Conference on the Internet of Things in Zurich, Switzerland (sponsored by Google, IBM and others) as serving as a means of acclimating individuals to the presence and use of ubiquitous technology. Possible marketing plans were discussed to introduce “self scanning” through the use of mobile devices to “scan” physical products and browse the items on digital mobile screens in a manner similar to internet shopping.
Andreas Schaller, a senior engineer for Motorola, presented information to the Zurich conference. Schaller’s presentation is outlined in the conference proceedings,
“To ensure a fast adoption rate it is necessary to start with low hanging fruit technologies like barcode scanning by camera, which will become a “free” feature for mobile devices morphing into high end camera phones.”
Since then, we have seen an explosion of this technology with smart phones becoming a standard household device. We now demand that devices be “smart.”
David Patraeus announced earlier this month, “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing…” This technology will have a profound effect on surveillance, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft…”
Though Patraeus’ announcement may seem shocking to those who have not kept up-to-date on this technology, it has been developed for over a decade. Hewlett Packard’s Internet and Mobile Systems Laboratory announced in 2001 that, “We want to make people, places, and things web-present.”
South Korea has served as a testing ground for this type of technology. The city of New Songdo was used because, according to those involved, “There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards.” This city is now the model for others to follow in a “Planned-opolis” future.