Mass Surveillance Essay

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The American public has no idea how close they are to the fanciful nations in the science fiction pieces “The Concrete Jungle” written by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.” As we speak, the Department of Defense is working on a research project that will enable the emotions of soldiers to be governed by remote control. Imagine what an army that never tired with no fear could accomplish. In a world wracked with such intense surveillance, there would be nothing left of freedom as we know it; freedom of speech and thought would mean freedom to say and think what the government allowed. There is a trend towards huge modes of control which will grow the leaps that are being made in technological advancement. Another factor leading to the control mode is the legislation that is loosening the constitutional protections of individual privacy. Both authors, Stross and Doctorow, have created very likable characters in some respects, but this is not the kind of lives that our founding fathers had planned for the future of this country that has based its principles on freedoms. The purpose of this paper will be to explore situations today that are leading the nation to resemble the futuristic cities of Stross and Doctorow.

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Though the “Concrete Jungle” is written slightly tongue in cheek, the author, Charles Stross, has also been a technical writer for Computer Shopper magazine and has two degrees, one in Pharmacy and the other in Computer Science. This is what makes his stories so frightening. Stross has the ability to use his degree to make this future ‘concrete jungle’ a believable possible outcome. The story is about an agent, Bob Howard, which must investigate all these concrete cows. These concrete cows are the result of the hacking into of the government surveillance systems and activating it ‘gorgonism’ mode, the program that can turn flesh into stone. An example of the lingo used in this novella is,” ABSTRACT: Recent research in neuroanatomy has characterized the nature of the stellate ganglia networks responsible for gorgonism in patients with advanced astrocytoma affecting the cingulate gyrus. Tests combining the map of medusa layout with appropriate video preprocessing inputs have demonstrated the feasibility of mechanical induction of the medusa effect”. This is not an easily deciphered office memo, but the reader gets the gist just the same.

Recently, the North Dakota police department called in the use of a Predator surveillance drone to end a cattle dispute. It seems that since the wars overseas are diminishing, there is a surplus of the drones and the government is offering them to local law enforcement. In this case, the Brossart family thought to be members of a survivalist group, decided to keep some of the neighbor’s cows until said neighbor paid for the bale of hay the cows had allegedly eaten. The Brossart family was determined to protect their property and the cows until payment was received by force, if necessary. The drone was on loan from the DHS’s Customs and Border Protection agency at a cost of about $3,000 per hour. It was used to locate the whereabouts of the Brossart family and to determine how many and if they were armed. The drone, which can fly up to 25,000 feet and for approximately 20 hours, was able to communicate when the family was found to be unarmed which allowed law enforcement to end the dispute without any weapons being, discharged…

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