Many Americans have a legitimate concern about invasive “Big Brother” type technology which allows our government to spy on us day-and-night. It’s downright scary some of the things that have been proposed and some of the things that have already been put into place (NSA spying anyone?).
Unfortunately, the march toward total government invasion of your life is taking another leap forward with local law enforcement officers soon having the ability to identify you (maybe accurately) just from your image picked up by their body cameras. Jack Burns writes,
New innovations in technology are allowing police officers to contribute to a growing database by implementing facial recognition software in Breathalyzer tests and body cameras.
The largest maker of body cameras in the United States, Axon, announced last week that it has purchased two artificial intelligence companies and it is creating an ethics board for the purpose of preparing to use the technology with its current products.
Despite acknowledging the “bias and misuse” that will likely take place with such a system, the company’s founder, Rick Smith argues that the tech’s benefits cannot be ignored. “I don’t think it’s an optimal solution, the world we’re in today, that catching dangerous people should just be left up to random chance, or expecting police officers to remember who they’re looking for,” he told WaPost. “It would be both naive and counterproductive to say law enforcement shouldn’t have these new technologies. They’re going to, and I think they’re going to need them. We can’t have police in the 2020s policing with technologies from the 1990s.”
Both China and the UK — two major police states — already deploy cameras that use facial recognition in public.
Now, I’m not the least bit surprised that Smith is advocating the supposed benefits of police using this kind of technology. He owns a business that is looking to sell this technology to police officers. Of course, he wants to make money with it by selling the technology to local police departments all over the United States.
Here’s what Smith isn’t telling you: His statements assume that the world is more dangerous today than ever and that we need government (in this case, law enforcement) to step in to protect us because we are incapable of doing so. Never mind that mass shootings are often stopped by legally armed citizens on site and not by law enforcement while school shootings, for example, are not more common than they used to be (so much for romanticizing the safety of our youth).
The fact of the matter is that we live in a world that is statistically safer than ever before in human history, but we are more paranoid about the possibility that life may be out of our control. So, many people want the government to give them that protection which government is happy to tell people that they can do (After all, what’s the easiest way to drum up voter support? Tell them that you can do something. Even if you can’t.). The problem is that law enforcement can’t be everywhere at once and can’t stop everyone from doing evil things. And, so, we have government using crime and terrorism as another excuse to take away our freedoms.
You would be wise to be campaigning against your local law enforcement from using this technology while making sure that you are able to protect yourself from the extremely rare non-governmental assault on your life or theft of your property.