The Air Force is about to launch a new technology that will bring enhanced aerial surveillance to certain locations in Afghanistan. Where the current airborne robots use one camera to provide live video of a single narrow area, the new device will provide a constant stream of images from a mulit-lens drone that the military claims will be able observe all the activity in an entire town.
This, of course, approaches the scenario of the 1998 Jim Carrey movie “The Truman Show”, though in this case it’s adapted to serve the purposes of modern warfare.
I’m all for new technology that helps American forces stay alive and accomplish their mission in Afghanistan. But it’s hard to choose the weirdest single thing about this.
… that ESPN was used as a model to help the military learn to “tag” certain recorded video sequences for immediate recall, the same way a TV crew covering a professional football game follows a specific player or compiles a collection of certain types of plays?
(What will be the Jalalabad equivalent of an end zone celebration?)
… that the Air Force sent a representative to watch how reality TV shows choose footage from programs where multiple cameras record all the activity in a house?
(This way we’ll be sure to know if two Taliban have a fight in the outdoor hot tub.)
… that the massive amount of video recorded by these all-seeing cameras flying over villages in Afghanistan will be stored in the digital memory of servers housed in used shipping containers … in Iowa?
(This is a far cry from the day when the most exotic images to be found in Keokuk were at the new Blockbuster.)
… that the project’s official name is Gorgon Stare, after the three headed beast from Greek mythology whose steady gaze would cause you to turn to stone?
(Haven’t we already financed another weapons system that can actually do that?)
… that or that the details regarding this surveillance project, which is something you would think by its very nature requires secrecy, are all over the internet, and are now appearing second hand in a whimsical blog posted under the image of a baboon?
The only reason I can think of for this level of sharing is that the military wants everyone in the war zone to feel that they are being observed and their actions are recorded, constantly. Smile! You’re on Overt Camera!
For people who grew up at a time when television was still a new and exciting idea, the thought of being on camera carries the aura of something special. Not so anymore. And maybe the day is drawing near when NOT being on camera will be the more significant event – something to post as your most amazing ever Facebook status: OMG! I’m out of the frame! Do I even exist?
Perhaps that’s even a workable plan for some future reality show – a group of people are put in a house and left to their own devices without being viewed or recorded. When they come out they can tell us how positively weird it was to know they weren’t being watched.
How would it change your behavior if you knew a camera in the sky was recording everything you did outside?