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It's Alive, or Is It?


I've been accessing Google Maps for a few years. Each time I do, I get the voyeuristic feeling that I'm intruding on someone--seeing something that I oughtn't. From my humble vantage point (not being a computer guru nor having state-of-the art equipment), I can only see tiny cars and teeny-tiny figures.

But the power this gives people is unsettling.

If you think you can hide from the all-seeing eye, think again. Taking Route 66 on my way to an ice-skating show at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia, under bridges and along the road, I spied many traffic cameras. The cameras are useful tools that help officials keep track of trouble along the road, and let reporters and commuters immediately get the word out on the slowdowns.

Nonetheless, it creeps me out. It's not because I'm doing anything wrong, nor do I plan to, but just the idea that an unblinking eye can watch me.

Than again, the "I spy" issue isn't just in the sky or under bridges.

If you own a cellphone, you've got a tool that keeps track of what you do. Inside the slender but oh-so-powerful hand-held device is a GPS locator, and a system that keeps track of what you access (shops, restaurants, etc.). Which means every time you hit search button on Google or another search engine, IT knows and remembers.

It's alive, and growing.

In his article "How Google and Apple's digital mapping is mapping us," Oliver Burkeman warns us, "Google's and Apple's maps might not just observe our lives, but in some sense come to play a role in directing their course."

This isn't to alarm you, but I think that like other things, we ought to consider that tools that Google or other high-tech companies offer come with some strings attached.

Comments:

RE: NYPD's Domain Awareness System- Police everywhere have scanners that read license plates.

One of my colleagues mentioned recently that due to 9-11, his children would grow-up in a very different world then we did.
The show is already set for an evil person to take over the machine. In three episodes, we see characters mucking about.

Finch thought he'd made it pretty hack-free, the reality was someone else knew about his plans and put in a window to change the machine's code.
FREE FINCH!

Er, sorry, got carried away for a minute. So nice to find a fellow fan. :-)

But you raise an interesting question, Kim: Is the Machine (and, by extension, the real-life machines you wrote about) benevolent or sinister? With a creator like Finch and an enforcer like Reese, one would tend to think it's benevolent -- but I sometimes wonder if there'll turn out to be more to it than meets the eye.
The Machine was recently playing games with me. I could write a blog, but was unable to comment. Go figure.

Thanks to our genius tech, I am now good to go!

I love "Person of Interest!" I've become addicted to that type of show--I love it when evil is vanquished.
Kim asked me to let you all know that she's having comment problems right now, but that she's reading your comments and will respond when she can. Also that she's a big "Person of Interest" fan. See, Lee, told you it was good! :-)
Really, Lee?? You've read half of _Emma_?? That's soooo exciting!!!!

And it relates to this post because Emma and her neighbors did their best to watch everyone and guess at their motives.... :)
Well, get it as soon as you can. :-) It's fantastic.
(sarcasm ON)

Pfft, Kim, pfft - you'll be fine as long as you don't go visiting Eric and his family:

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/08/nypd-domain-awareness-system-microsoft-is-watching-you.html

(sarcasm OFF) (or, at least, at a lower setting)

Gina, I almost bought Season One of PI, since I haven't seen any episodes yet, but anything with James Caviezel has to be good. But, then I thought of Milady M, and a half-finished copy of _Emma_ . . .
Kim, you should watch my new favorite show, "Person of Interest." You might feel better about the whole "you are being watched" thing. Then again, you might feel worse . . .