The good news is, there will be no reason for anyone to steal your eyeballs.
That’s because the iris scanning technology which is on its way straight from Minority Report to reality can differentiate between dead and living eyes. I should have known that if I can tell the difference between an eyeball in someone’s hand and an eyeball in someone’s face, that a sophisticated computer would be able to tell the difference, too.
That’s not the only good news. The computers will track the movements of all criminals, eliminate drunk driving, and eliminate the need to carry a wallet or ID.
So as long as you don’t mind a global computer system tracking every single second of your day, then the Utopian future appears to be on the way.
If you think I’m being an alarmist or dramatic or speculative, please read this article by Austin Carr, regarding the very real technology I’m talking about, and its equally real implementation in the city of Leon, Mexico.
Carr compares the technology to Minority Report for a very good reason – it’s going to be exactly like Minority Report, “minus the precogs.” Remember the scene where Tom Cruise is walking through the mall and the billboards are able to scan his eyes as he passes and then present digital ads based upon his existing record of purchases and interests?
That’s exactly what this stuff is going to do. You won’t have to lean down and look in a retina scanner. The scans will just occur as you walk – or drive – down the street. Within three years, the entire city will be completely covered, every single public place. According to Carr’s article, it’s a safe bet the entire globe will be covered within a decade.
Focus on the positive – that’s all I can say, because nothing on Earth will stop it. We’re talking about a system which will revolutionize both law enforcement and advertising – deep and tenacious pockets.
Criminals will get scanned upon conviction, and then they will be tracked at all times. Convicted shoplifters entering a department store will be flagged for the security staff. Sex offenders walking past a school, something we’ll get to know about. Your abusive ex-spouse, entering your neighborhood, violating a restraining order – that’s instant jail.
Hooray for law enforcement. Hooray for a serious decline in violent crimes. Hooray for safety and peace of mind. Hooray for everything except privacy and autonomy. Hooray for the death of secrets, the demise of solitude, the end of taking a little time for yourself.
What. The. Hell.
Is there ever a point where we decide it’s too much? Do we ever decide, you know, although we could do that, we’re not going to, because we don’t like where it takes us down the road? No, I don’t think we do. We figure out what’s possible, and we get it going – onward.
In Leon, for law-abiding citizens, the system is optional. You can opt out. But then you’re a guy walking around without your irises in the system – pretty suspicious.
It won’t be required by law, is my thinking, but your credit card company will require it. They’ll come up with a charge for opting out, since you’ll be contributing to identity theft, walking around with your undocumented eyeballs. Your employer will require it for security reasons. And once you’re in the system, you’re in the system.
Like 1984’s cameras that are everywhere, I once said that I always wondered how the oppressive government would get them in our houses. Now I understand – we’ll buy them, and we’ll buy these, too.
Our privacy will not be taken away from us. We will sell it, plain and simple. We’ll give it away like it’s a worthless nuissance. We’ll join with the digital hive, and we’ll rejoice.
Well, it’s never as bad as it seems, is it? And I can already predict the admonishing comments and emails to come. What do I have to hide? What am I up to that I don’t want everyone knowing about.
Plenty, that’s what. I’m plugged into the system, sure – I’m on Facebook and I’ve got a Blackberry, and if the Feds were looking for me right now, they’d find me awfully quick. But I keep a great big ball of None Of Your Business in my hip pocket at all times. It’s one of my favorite things, the little pieces of my life that exist outside the grid.
Ducking out for a beer with a newspaper and a ten dollar bill – no one knows where I am when I do that, not you, not my wife, not my bank. Just me and a bartender – I like that. Leaving my phone at home for a run in the park – where the hell did Tom go? I don’t know.
Seedy poker games with grumpy old men in the back rooms of bars – that’s nothing the system needs to know about. I like to use cash and entertain my seedy side once in a while. Is everyone else really a franking Cub Scout? How the hell are we going to work our angles, set up our rackets, kick back and unplug? We can’t unplug from our own eyeballs.
Wouldn’t I trade my privacy for the safety and security of my daughters? Yeah, I guess so. That’s why I said nothing on Earth will be able to stop this. We’ll all have that conversation with ourselves, we’ll all imagine that our young child is missing and no one can find her because of our smug and idealistic insistence that privacy is important.
We’ll do it. I know, we’ll do it.
If I can hide, then criminals can hide – I got it. Long ago I thought we’d all have tracking chips inside us by now, then I thought well, the GPS chips in our phones do a pretty good job of that, as long as you have your phone with you.
But we don’t need chips. These things can scan fifty people at a time, and they’re only going to get more efficient. Pretty soon they’ll be able to scan your iris from orbit, if you tilt your head even slightly upward. Where’s Bill? Oh there he is, he’s camping in the Finger Lakes and he’s looking up at the stars. Hi, Bill.
A lot of people are arguing that privacy is already gone, so screw it. Let go of the past. The banks already know what you buy all the time, because of your debit card.
But that’s just the point. You have the option of using cash. Privacy is hard to come by right now, but it’s not gone. When these things are everywhere, that’s what it will be – gone.
Ah, but it’s a small price to pay for security, right? I don’t know, seems to me that computer systems can be hacked. You don’t need to walk around with an eyeball in your hand, like Tom Cruise. You just have to hack the system and assign a different identity to your iris scan. Just tell the system your irises belong to Charlie Patterson, and that’s who you are.
Identity theft, in a much more literal form. We’re going to give up our privacy for a whole new generation of problems and crimes that we never imagined. We’ll eliminate crime except for the brilliant people, and the people willing to pay brilliant people – that’s just brilliant.
We think we’re so clever, don’t we? I’m starting to think that we’re going to get exactly what we deserve.