Saturday, September 15, 2007

Totally Spies

So let's talk about surveillance. And by surveillance I'm not talking about our government's penchant for turning more and more cameras and microphones on its own people, such that, starting at the beginning of next month, they now take requests from local governments to swing the satellite cams around to snoop on US (because, unlike the terrorists, the government DOES know where we are, which, I guess, makes it the easier task to tune in).

No, I'm not talking about Big Brother. I'm talking about the latest tool for Little Brother.

I'm watching the tube and I've seen a couple ads for different types what is being billed as "directional hearing aids". The commercials go along the line that you, the hard-of-hearing consumer, don't want to be a bother to others by insisting on turning up the TV, or asking people to repeat themselves, or missing lines at the movie. How much easier would it be if you had a pointable hearing aid that could pick up just what you wanted to hear.

Sounds good? But then there's always that little "bonus" they include in these ads- you can hear neighbors across the street, or find out that your granddaughter is preparing a surprise party.

Or, say, hang out at coffee shop and just eavesdrop on your unsuspecting neighbors. They don't say that, but I am.

So I am of two minds of this on this development. Cyberpunk is supposedly where technology meets the street, and something like this bit of mirrorshade tech would be a boon to snoops everywhere. And there is no law against overhearing a conversation. And maybe it will be used to head off a couple robberies or murders. Concerned citizens in action and all that. Until some politico gets caught in an off-mike moment and THEN we see all manner of laws coming down. That's one thought.

The other is a movie idea for a higher-tech Rear Window, one which might star Valerie Bertinelli and be on Lifetime. A woman who is losing her hearing gets one of these little gems as a gift, then quickly starts using it to dip into everyone else's business. Sort of gives her a little superpower that makes her feel more up on things, able to keep up with the grandkids, get the juicy gossip. Then she overhears a murder being planned.

And of course, if its Lifetime, she goes to the cops, finds the Head Detective is extremely attractive and separated from his wife, then discovers that the murder being arranged is for the Head Detective's wife, and now she is a witness and the Head Detective is coming for her, and she defeats him by pushing him off a lighthouse, but nevermind about that. The point is that this is surveillance society moved to the street level, both in fiction and real life.

And Little Brother may be more motivated to act on your foibles than Big Brother.

More later,