the science & technology of social control

Cartoon, circa 1970

Just 2 links to articles on this site which are primarily about the science & technology of social control but have been put under different categories:

3 Responses to the science & technology of social control

    “There is little doubt that innovations in mobile technologies are part
    of emerging methodologies of social control. In particular, games and
    applications that make use of the Google Maps back-end system —
    including Uber, Grindr, Pokémon Go and hundreds of others — which should
    be seen as one of the most important technological developments of the
    last decade or so, are particularly complicit in these new regulatory
    practices. Putting the well-publicized data collection issue aside, such
    applications have two powerful ideological functions. First, they
    construct the new “geographical contours” of the city, regulating the
    paths we take and mapping the city in the service of both corporate
    interest and the prevention of uprisings. Second, and more
    unconsciously, they enact what Jean-Francois Lyotard once called the
    “desirevolution” — an evolution and revolution of desire, in which that
    what we want is itself now determined by the digital paths we tread.

    On a smaller scale, this point can be seen in concrete terms with a case
    study of London. A recent Transport for London talk discussed the
    possibility of “gamifying” commuting. In order to facilitate this
    possibility, Transport for London have made the internet API and data
    streams used to monitor all London Transport vehicles open source and
    open access, in the hope that developers will build London-focused apps
    based around the public transport system, thus maximizing profit. One
    idea is that if a particular tube station is at risk of becoming clogged
    up due to other delays, TfL could give “in-game rewards” for people
    willing to use alternative routes and thus smooth out the jam.

    While traffic jam prevention may not seem like evidence that we have
    arrived in the dystopia of total corporate and state control, it does
    actually reveal the dangerous potentiality in such technologies. It
    shows that the UK is not as far away from the “social credit” game
    system recently implemented in Beijing to rate each citizen’s
    trustworthiness and give them rewards for their dedication to the
    Chinese state. While the UK media reacted with shock to these
    innovations in Chinese app development, a closer look at the electronic
    structures of mapping and controlling our own movements shows that a
    similar framework is already in its development phase in London too. In
    the “smart city” of the future, it won’t just be traffic jams that are
    smoothed out. Any inefficient misuse or any occupation of public space
    deemed dangerous by the authorities can be specifically targeted.

    Of course, when it comes to mapping pplications that promise to help us
    access the best quality objects of our desire with the greatest
    efficiency and the least cost, these tempting forces of joint corporate
    and state control are entered into willingly by participants. As such,
    they require something else in order to function in the all-consuming
    way that they do. Far from simply channeling and transforming our
    movements, they also need to channel and even transform our
    desires….If the boundaries between the way we search, desire and
    acquire our burgers, lovers and Pikachus are dissolving, it is not so
    much the old point that everything has become a commodity, but a new
    point that this kind of substitutional electronic objectivity endows
    corporate and state technologists with unprecedented power to distribute
    and redistribute the objects of the desire around the “smart city”.”….
    The various forms and objects of each individual’s desire no longer
    represent discreet and separable elements of a subject’s life. Instead
    we enter a fully cohesive libidinal economy in which we are increasingly
    regulated and mapped via the organization of what and how we desire.”

  2. Antwerp begins fingerprint scanning ahead of new ID card launch:

    “It is important to know that the fingerprint is only present on the
    card (in the chip) itself, and is not stored in a central database,” the
    Antwerp alderman in charge of the process, Nabilla Ait Daoud, told ATV,
    adding that only the responsible authorities can read the chip and see
    the fingerprints. … In the rest of Belgium, the new ID cards with the
    holders’ fingerprints will begin being issued by all Belgian
    municipalities by the end of 2020.

    “Awash in these federal funds, cities have doubled down on their surveillance investments, even as they face general budget shortfalls in the tens of millions. On August 4, two days before Operation Legend was formally announced in the city, Memphis signed a new contract with Cellebrite, an Israeli forensics manufacturer popular with law enforcement, whose products can hack and extract data from smartphones…Chicago, meanwhile, announced on August 14 that it would employ “enhanced” technology for “around-the-clock” monitoring of social media to identify looters. One hundred federal agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were sent to Chicago through Operation Legend in late July. Though Mayor Lori Lightfoot at first assumed a hostile attitude toward the initiative, in August she also announced a new task force on looting in partnership with the FBI…In Memphis, a unique consent decree from 1978 prohibits law enforcement from engaging in “political intelligence” — collecting information on individuals for political purposes. This decree was the backbone of the 2018 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, which held that Memphis had violated the law. City law enforcement has lobbied to amend and strike the decree, but so far, it has held.

    Yet the Memphis law does not apply to federal law enforcement. “That’s the harsh truth. The decree only covers the city,” explained Tom Castelli, legal director for the ACLU of Tennessee, though per the decree, the city cannot collaborate on unlawful surveillance with outside agencies. Still, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings has alluded to partnering with the FBI to get around some of the decree’s restrictions, later confirming through a city spokesperson that he “told [federal officials] that we are restricted by the consent decree and depend on them to catch threats articulated on social media.”…”

    More than just carting a lot of heavily armed filth into some selected cities. The extent to which some of the surveillance networks have been constructed is notably spooky.

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