“The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.”—Steven Spielberg


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It was a mere ten years ago that Steven Spielberg’s action film Minority Report, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, offered movie audiences a special effect-laden techno-vision of a futuristic world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful. And if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams will bring you under control.

The year is 2054. The place is Washington, DC. Working in a city in which there has been no murder committed in six years—due in large part to his efforts combining widespread surveillance with behavior prediction technologies—John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise), Chief of the Department of Pre-Crime in Washington, DC, uses precognitive technology to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage—that is, to prevent crimes before they happen. Unfortunately for Anderton, the technology, which proves to be fallible, identifies him as the next would-be criminal, and he flees. In the ensuing chase, Anderton finds himself not only attempting to prove his innocence but forced to take drastic measures in order to avoid capture in a surveillance state that uses biometric data and sophisticated computer networks to track its citizens.

Seemingly taking its cue from science fiction, technology has moved so fast in the short time since Minority Report premiered that what once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction. Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed by the government and corporations alike—iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, Spielberg’s unnerving vision of the future is fast becoming our reality.

Examples abound.


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Read More at tenthamendmentcenter.com. By John W. Whitehead.

Photo Credit: JenniferFisher2011 (Creative Commons)


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