“I’ll be seeing you in all the old, familiar places.”
There is a scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise enters a shopping mall, and there are ads welcoming him. They invite him to buy something. Everyone entering that mall is greeted.
It’s here. Stores are now installing cameras in billboards that recognize us, then post ads for us . . . individually. “Welcome, Dr. North. Would you like to read an article on how the the federal government is going to default?”
Today, it’s possible to spot someone in a crowd, find out who he is, and access his online information.
This is only the early stage of this technology. It will get better. It will get cheaper.
Is there any way to sop this? No. Are we going to learn to live with it? Yes. Is there a growing protest against this? No. There is no awareness of it. By the time there is, it will be too late.
That’s because it’s too late now.
Digital technology is governed by Moore’s law: every year, the density of computer chips doubles. This means the cost of information falls. It fell by 50% every three years from 1890 to 1950. It fell by 50% every two years from 1950 to 1966. It fell by 50% every 18 months from 1965 to 2000.
The cost of data storage technology has fallen even faster.
It does no good to worry about all this. Worrying is not going to change it. Neither is legislation. Technology always advances faster than the laws to control it. Laws control last year’s technology — or older.
What does not advance much at all is the government’s manpower to put these technologies to use. So much data! So little intelligence!