Big Brother Was a Piker

If you walk around any city in America (and a lot of other countries) these days, you'll be moving from they eye of one surveillance camera to another. Some belong to the authorities, some belong to businesses, but they create a web in which we're all being watched. It's hard not to feel a little unnerved when you think about it, even if you manage not to think about it most of the time.

But you want to get unnerved? Get a load of this, from Fast Company:

Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) announced today that it is rolling out its iris scanning technology to create what it calls "the most secure city in the world." In a partnership with Leon -- one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of more than a million -- GRI will fill the city with eye-scanners. That will help law enforcement revolutionize the way we live -- not to mention marketers.

"In the future, whether it's entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris," says Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers ... "Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years," he says.

It only gets worse from there. The best quote is probably this: "When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in." You don't want "a flag on you," do you?

Not to be too cynical, but I'm guessing that the while Carter may or may not be right about the timeline, he's probably right about the destination. At first people will be horrified, as I hope you are right now, then very quickly a whole industry will grow up around iris identification and its many applications, giving people some tangible benefits ("I don't have to carry my wallet anymore!"), and before you know it, having your iris scan on file with Google and a dozen other private companies (not to mention the government) will just become accepted practice among all but the Luddite minority.

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. But then I have to take them off in order to be scanned so I can be granted admission to my own home.

-- Paul Waldman

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