Have you ever wished that you had access to amazing technology like some kind of comic book superhero? You know, pretending that you are Batman or Iron Man? Many little kids (me, included, I admit it) daydreamed about that kind of thing while playing pretend with friends.
But what if that incredibly advanced technology was real and that there were people who could do amazing things with technology, what would that mean to our lives? What if they could even do things like, say, see through walls?
Well, unfortunately for us, that childhood fantasy is a reality, and that has scary repercussions for our privacy. Joe Pinkstone writes,
Soldiers could soon have ‘superhero-style X-ray vision’ thanks to an AI camera that can see enemies hiding behind walls.
Created by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the system uses artificial intelligence to analyse radio signals that bounce off a person’s body.
These signals, which can travel through walls, are used to construct a stick figure of a person lurking behind a screen.
The system allows anyone to ‘watch’ people walk, jump and sit – even when they are obscured from view.
In the future, a soldier wearing augmented reality goggles and a transmitter device could ‘see’ projections of concealed enemies. [hat tip to here for the lead.]
Let me tell you how this is going to roll out. This will be sold two ways: 1. as a way to help disabled people without them having to open the door, and 2. as a way for law enforcement to know when someone is waiting to ambush them in a SWAT raid.
I understand the appeal of both of those. After all, with the first one, we all want to feel like our lives are private, so we don’t want to know that people are spying on us “for our own good.” And with the second one, no one wants to die, so, of course, law enforcement will want to be able to avoid ambushes. I get that.
Here’s the problem: historically, if something can be abused by government, it will be. We don’t need to look at things like MK Ultra to come up with ideas of U.S. government oppression. We can look at the IRS’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party-affiliated non-profits just because of their political leanings. And, to be clear, both major parties have histories of abusing technology for power grabs, so neither party gets a pass in this criticism.
What this basically means is that illegal search will become commonplace if law enforcement and other government officials get their hands on this technology. And that’s another right that we would be able to kiss goodbye.