ties are finding the costs reasonable for installing
their own surveillance systems.
All the highways, all the roads. All
the paths and trails. It’s just a matter
of software and hardware and money.
Similar situations will play out everywhere, in a world where perceived
threats are far more important than
actual danger, politically and psychologically. Zero-tolerance rules for rude
or reckless behavior will ramp up the
pressure on society’s marginals—
including immature young people, the
mentally ill, and petty thieves. Private
individuals and neighborhood-watch
groups will keep local records of individuals and pass them along to landlords or housing authorities, as well
as to the police, possibly using them
to justify the tracking of individual
movements and behavior around the
There is no right of privacy in public
Courts may rule that private recordings in public places are in fact unprotected by constitutional safeguards,
particularly against self-incrimination.
All such records could become public
property. Individuals may find their
personal recordings subpoenaed for
cases in which they have minimal or no
involvement, as part of a sweep for information around a crime scene.
Ultimately, any unusual, reckless, or
outright bad behavior will be captured
by some surveillance system or other,
resulting in further scrutiny, court
orders, or law-enforcement investigations. The squeeze will be applied to
any potential miscreants, even if their
actions turn out to be relatively harmless.
Pictures of individuals alleged to
have been involved in suspicious activity will be posted on social-networking
sites. Wives will learn where their husbands go at night, and vice versa.
Morally minded individuals will
post streaming video taken outside
clinics, hospitals, liquor stores, adult
Videos that might show bad intentions—or might not—could force employers to fire those involved. This will
likely add to the self-perceived overwhelming burden on those members
of society who already feel they have
[cOntinUed FrOM P. 112]
as forgiveness and
conveniences of the
past, as lubrication
is stripped off,
friction and stress
nothing left to lose.
Anyone can own a gun. Everyone
can track everyone else. The weak links
could feel the pressure the most, and
might also break first.
That tailgater was having a very bad
day. Now, he’s going to have a very bad
couple of months. He could lose his
driver’s license and his job. What he
might do next will also be recorded in
Everyone of us has, at one time or another, done something foolish or just
plain thoughtless. Many of us have gotten away with petty crimes and grown
out of the bad behavior—without being caught. We mature. We learn. Our
lives are not minutely observed.
That will change. Escaping from
the consequences of minor offenses
functions as one kind of lubrication
in the gears of society. No society can
afford the cost of prosecuting every
minor crime. Few individuals can afford complete, day-in, day-out scrutiny
in an increasingly judgmental society.
Vengeance is everywhere. Nobody gets
away with anything. We’re terrified
of our neighbors, and we hate being
As forgiveness and forgetfulness
become conveniences of the past, as
lubrication is stripped off, friction and
stress will increase.
Welcome to the myriad eyes of Little
Greg Bear ( http://www.gregbear.com) is the author
of more than 30 books of science fiction and fantasy,
including Blood Music, The Forge of God, Dar win’s Radio,
and Quantico, and has been awarded two hugos and five