Imagine a world where people didn't need lawyers or courts to decide who did what to whom, when and why.
What if everything you said and did and everything you saw and heard was recorded? What if everybody you encountered was recording as well? Do you think you or they would behave differently? The idea has been posited by science fiction writers including William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and Bruce Sterling to name a few favorites and by contemporary commentator Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.
The process is picking up steam, more rapidly than many of us ever expected and maybe it’s playing out a little differently than we thought.
Witnesses to an accident are often confused about the circumstances. Was it a red car or maroon or maybe even blue? Was it a 4 door 2 door convertible? Was it in the proper lane? If everybody witnessing the accident was recording it, from different positions, that would be a perfect indisputable unchallengeable record of what actually happened. If such recordings were possible, would that lower insurance rates? Would that reduce the need for as many policemen?
What if we were nicer to each other because we knew her behavior and our manners we're being recorded? Would that be a better world or a suppressive world?
All major cities now have cameras at almost every intersection. All businesses have cameras inside and out, and most homes do as well. All public transportation including taxi cabs and Ubers have internal cameras and many have external-facing cameras. And yet with all this coverage and recording of events, and the knowledge that these cameras exist, people still don't behave well all the time. People are still rude, aggressive, dishonest, and also kind.
Today, when someone has been rude or dishonest with the victims, lawyers try to find every video recording they can that was in or near the situation in question. Sometimes, however, there is no video or it's of poor quality. Sometimes there is only one view and it's insufficient to resolve the dispute.
But would we behave as sheep if we knew everybody was recording everything we did all the time? Would our social behavior be artificial as we played for the camera?
Snap sells sunglasses that record what the wearer sees, and their new Spectacles 3 line add snazzy design and depth.
So, what might happen next?
Stevie likes to ride BART, San Francisco’s fast underground train. He rides it all day. And he gets paid for it. Stevie loves his new camera glasses. Wherever he looks, he records, and he doesn't need the pinhole hidden camera he used before that was hard to align.
Stevie compiles a video of women's skirts and legs. Sometimes blouses. Once in a while, he gets a panty shot. He makes a decent sum from advertising sales around his online voyeur vids.
Amy is excited about her new job as a “Field Operator” for a financial manager. She gets to sit at the cafes near the Facebook headquarters. She acts like a “fly on the wall” and reports back to the financial guy. He apparently makes a good buck front running Facebook acquisitions.
She loves how her glasses not only record video but have a laser microphone. They would never let her set up a traditional microphone and tripod, but with the glasses, she can get away with it
Andy is a simple guy. He gets flustered easily and when the video of him seriously screwing up the interview surfaced he didn't understand where it came from then he remembered…all those people with glasses.
Jim had no idea, he had become a meme; he just thought the cute girl with the little orphan Annie curls was flirting with him. And who doesn’t like that?
The next day he received dozens of emails from friends and a few strangers, his Facebook page was stuffed with comments. He was shocked to read that he was being labeled a pervert and a pedophile. Hell, all he did was smile at the girl, maybe winked, how could he have known she was a teenager; did you see all the makeup she had on? And besides, she was across the aisle and several seats down on the BART train, not that easy to see.
Now people looked at him when he got on BART, and then quickly looked away.
He knew this would pass, that these flash bangs quickly get replaced by some new sensation, but still, he was worried about the meeting with HR he had to go to today.
How would your life, your behavior change if you knew everyone, and maybe everything was recording you? Every store you entered, ever public transportation system, toll booth, or movie theater—every person you spoke to or passed on the street, or cut in front of to snag a taxi or a coffee, was recording you, and you recording them.
Or will it be like the mythical boiled frog, it will happen so subtly, so unstoppably, that we just won’t notice or care? Jerks will still be jerks, criminals will be criminals, and Samaritans will besamaritans?