You've probably seen Person of Interest, the hit CBS show about an ex-CIA agent and a brilliant billionaire software engineer who work together to save lives throughout Manhattan. Their primary weapons are a cloud-based server and big-data analytics that crunch through reams of disparate phone calls, text messages, and GPS information to determine who's life is at stake in each episode.
Is it fun to watch? Absolutely! Do you need to suspend belief? Perhaps only when Jim Caviezel (Reese) single-handedly disarms six bad guys while brainiac Michael Emerson (Finch) watches remotely. Everything else, especially the technologies and related paranoia, is pretty much real.
When Jonathan Nolan created the television program, which began airing in 2011, he used sources such as The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State and interviews with the nation's military and armed forces, for inspiration, he told the media. Fast-forward a couple of years and his writers must be having a field day, thanks to the infusion of the new tech tools available to Finch and Reese.
Just Because He's Paranoid...
...doesn't mean someone isn't out to get Reese, played by Jim Caviezel in the CBS hit Person of Interest. New technologies make it easier to track -- and protect -- the population and employees.
Consider, for example, the gunshot sensors increasingly in use at police departments around the nation. While some, such as the Washington police, began implementing them in the early 2000s, many other departments have only more recently begun to roll these systems out, according to published reports. Large cities like Chicago, along with smaller suburbs across New York's Long Island, have invested in this technology.
When paired with cameras, authorities can even capture a look at who actually shot the gun. In Tucson, for example, if a shot is fired within a major metropolitan area, within one second a microphone picks up the sound, a camera zooms in toward the noise, and authorities receive that information.
"So in most cases, the shooter hasn't even begun to drop their arm yet and we're already looking at the scene," Wayne Lundeberg, chief operating officer of Safety Dynamics, a manufacturer of these solutions, told KOLD TV.
Crime rates at Safety Dynamics installations typically fall 14 percent with the presence of the new technology, and a 35 percent drop in shootings and calls to 911 is realized within weeks, the vendor claims. When Baltimore was testing its system, the solution helped police almost immediately arrest an alleged shooter, KOLD reported. National Geographics focused on gunshot-reporting in a video, posted here:
These systems aren't only for police departments. Such enterprises as banks and other financial institutions are buying gunshot sensors, according to Safety Dynamics. In the wake of tragedies such as Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech, some schools are exploring this option; movie theaters and other entertainment venues are considering them as an additional safety measurement after the shooting in Tucson. Since gunshot sensors automatically connect to police, they negate shooters' attempts to bar hostages from contacting authorities, proponents say. They also allow police to learn about shootings in deserted areas.
The moveable system, which starts at about $7,500 apiece, can monitor about two-square blocks and only listens for gunshot sounds, not conversations, KOLD reported. It can even differentiate between a backfiring motorbike or car and a gun. But while it may make some people feel more secure, others are leery about what they perceive as another invasion of their privacy.
If you're an executive who's concerned about employees' physical security, what can you do? Is there a happy medium between protecting those you've hired, especially if you're involved in a business that deals with money, precious metals, or other items of particular attraction to thieves? How about if you deal with health, alcohol, or safety? I know when I bartended during college, I wouldn't have minded one of these systems. We never had a problem that escalated to this point, but some nights were a little rocky, and I'm sure our bouncer wouldn't have minded the extra security. On the other hand, club patrons might not have wanted their every move and word captured on camera.
So, my fellow cast members, what do you think? Would you feel safer with these cameras around you, and, if so, would you be prepared to cede a little more of your privacy to have them?
I agree. The more 'free' a country is when it comes to, well, free speech, the more you can expect people there to speak their mind and let their opinions be heard. I think it's unfortunate that not every person in the world can enjoy this freedom--which many regard as something so basic.
Well, you couldn't have put it better, Kim. Well-said. I think it goes without saying that even saints have something to hide. Thank goodness the world's population has reached such numbers that most are not interested in what the other has to hide--unless it happens to be Justin Bieber. (Or somet other public figure with millions and millions of followers!)
Very true. You have to be very careful with what you are saying in Russian Internet.I remember my mom was begging me to close the post where I told about low salaries of Unviersity teachers. People are arrested when they critisize the authorities. No fun at all.
@Kim Davis: From what I've seen on Reddit, I've got reason to believe otherwise.
Even when we're not being watch by others, a lot of people are putting out that information whether we want to see it or not. Basically, even when our privacy isn't being eroded we're busily figuring out new ways to erode it ourselves...
... but perhaps that's the price we pay for wanting to have two-way communication with the world. People seem to forget that windows work both ways.
"I think the listening component is more what some people are concerned about. Personally, I'd prefer to feel safer -- or at least believe that someone who shot a gun illegally was more likely to get caught -- than worry about having a conversation in a public place overheard. "
@alison_ you are right..If this is all about our security , I have no issues and since we are not the culprits or have any bad intentions so we don't bother either if our conservations are being recorded or overheard by public
I guess that despite this capability being there, the actual listening from what the microphone captures will take a sampling approach...i.e. they will only listen in on random picks of conversation. This would lower the probablility of you ever being listened in on. I think of it in terms of also phone companies for instance...they actually keep a transcript of all our call conversations, but fortunately nobody ever gets to scrutinize them under normal circumstances.
I guess it depends where you live: Those of us in relatively free nations, where you normally aren't thrown in jail for nothing, are less afraid of being overhead because - worse case - you might be a little red in the face if someone hears something a bit naughty or rude. In too many nations, however, even the most innocent of comments could put you in jail without a lawyer, a release date, or even a criminal charge.
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