New article by Steve Mann about Google Glass and the Surveillance StateSubmitted by Mekt_Ranzz on Fri, 11/02/2012 - 16:49
Digital eye glasses like Google’s Project Glass, and my earlier Digital Eye Glass, will transform society because they introduce a two-sided surveillance and sousveillance.
Not only will authorities and shops be watching us and recording our comings and goings (surveillance as we know it today), but we will also be watching and recording them (sousveillance) through small wearable computers like Digital Eye Glass. This affects secrecy, not just privacy. As one of the early inventors and developers of wearable computing and reality augmenting and mediating, I was asked by TIME Tech to write about the history and future predictions of these technologies.
. . . a new kind of opposition is emerging. This opposition comes not from peers, but from authorities and shops. The very authorities that are installing surveillance cameras on buildings and light posts are afraid of cameras being installed on people.
Ironically, the very establishments that oppose wearable cameras are usually the places where lots of surveillance is used. Thus I coined the new word “McVeillance” to denote a highly mass-produced (“McDonaldized”) form of veillance, in the same way that a “McMansion” is a mass-produced mansion. McVeillance also implies a prohibition on individual veillance; for example, a prohibition on what we call “sousveillance”.
The term “sousveillance” stems from the contrasting French words sur, meaning “above”, and sous, meaning “below”. So “surveillance” denotes the “eye-in-the-sky” watching from above, whereas “sousveillance” denotes bringing the camera or other means of observation down to human level, either physically (mounting cameras on people rather than on buildings), or hierarchically (ordinary people doing the watching, rather than higher authorities, large entities or architectures doing the watching).
Prediction 7: The most dramatic change will not be the loss of privacy, as that has already been eroded (and will soon be completely washed away) by surveillance. The most dramatic change will be in the erosion of illegal secrecy by sousveillance. Not the complete loss of secrecy, but the possibility that secrecy, when illegal, might be breached by whistleblowers. We’ll still have confidentiality and secrets, and corporations will still be able to successfully sue people for breach of confidentiality, but not when that breach brings illegal activities to light.
In this sense, society will return to a world in which there is both sousveillance and surveillance (both “undersight” and oversight) rather than today’s world of McVeillance — surveillance without sousveillance (oversight without undersight).