Edward Snowden: hero or villain? I can guarantee your safety from villains. It will cost a few trillion dollars, but it's worth it, right? Here's how it works. Every transaction that you do will be monitored by cameras, GPS trackers, and whatever other sensors are needed to adequately saturate the environment. An image of your face will be captured whenever you buy anything or go anywhere. Don't worry, we aren't using the data, unless we need to. So, for example, if you drive up to New Hampshire and buy a whole bunch of fireworks, and then back to Massachusetts and buy two pressure cookers, don't be surprised if a warrant for the search of your home is drawn and fifty black suited swat team members break down your door and take a peek around. After all, why would anybody need fireworks and two pressure cookers?
Advances in technology have made the surveillance and storage of everything possible. It is estimated that there are already 4.2 million security cameras in the UK for 60 million people. And, as we can observe with computer systems like Watson, IBM's 750 server monster that won the game show Jeopardy, processing power shouldn't be a problem.
As Moore's Law predicted: computer processing power, storage and network bandwidth are all getting cheaper at exponential rates, so it wont be long before cameras and computers that watch all of us are literally everywhere.
When I raised the question to several friends as to "whether they minded being watched in exchange for guaranteed safety?" their responses were unanimously that "since I'm not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to fear, so it's not a problem to me."
But, is it? I offered that we "all break some rules of society." What happens when the cameras on the Massachusetts turnpike observe that you must have exceeded the speed limit since you arrived at your exit too soon; or what happens when you decide to browse the Internet and read about how to make a nuclear bomb and it gets noticed by the FBI?
More importantly, what happens when your government reaches into the realm of becoming thought police and decide that your ideas are a bit too subversive? It's not that we've never experienced this before. I'm old enough to remember the Daniel Ellsberg files and the Nixon's enemies list.
What price are we willing to pay for safety? Do we trust our government to always have our best interests at heart? What if we simply want to watch some fireworks and cook two pots of baked beans for the fourth? Oh, I forgot, fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts.
I think that the power of the government is growing beyond our wildest expectations and that it's time for us to consider the impact and the direction that we're going in. Snowden may just be the canary in the coalmine.