the further adventures of
my docs cover the synth-tatami with a fine spoor of undercity dust. “tadaima,” i grumble as i hang my fedora interface on the hook by the door and undo my sash, allowing my monodachi to clump heavily to the floor. “okaerinasai!” chirps AVINA, smoothly thrumming from standby into her waifu subroutines. Anime Vocaloid with Independent Neural Architecture— smart, beautiful, and illegal under nexus-govt anti-anime digilaws. i had cyber-heisted her software from a yamahacorp mainframe, and she had been living in my apartment’s datanet ever since. originally meaning to sell her off to the highest bidder, i had instead kept her around for company. she was less complicated than real females.
“onii-san…” she begins in a saccharine voice, calling me by the name i’d instructed her to use. “not now,” i interrupt using my gruff voice, which is my normal voice. “i’ve important business to attend to.” speaking of damnable females. i’d encountered a particularly choice one on the maglev ride home from the undercity, and was merely partaking in the capture of a few images for later perusal using my g-shades when she’d had the temerity to get upset about it. like i’d really wanted to look at her anyway.
i jacked the shades into my cyberdeck and began upload. the female on the train had been wearing g-shades of her own (as if she knew how to use them, i had thought) and had responded to my compliments by activating the device’s built-in optical datalight. it’s normally used for wireless transmission of files and programs between g-shades, but apparently this vapid was trying to use its bright light to blind my camera. not likely, sweetie. i suppressed a heh and continued uploading the photos to neo-reddit.
suddenly, the house AI gives a startled yelp and alarm klaxons blare from my cyberdeck. a virus has somehow gotten through my firewalls and is chewing through my data nodes faster than any countermeasures i can deploy. i shriek and pound the desk, scattering figmas and empty cans of jolt. years of collection and archival work melts before my eyes. how could this have happened? how could a virus like this have gotten past my security measures? i tear my hair and rend my prized vintage haruhi shirt, undone.
it dawns on me, creeping slowly like a legitimate photographer through the dormitory bushes. i try frantically to warn neo-reddit not to open the photos, but it’s too late. the virus has propagated wildly and the sub-neo-reddit is already baying for blood. my blood. i dive heavily under my desk and grab my bug-out bag, hoping that i can escape in time before ten thousand angry candid photo aficionados break down my door. pounding out in the hallway. muffled sounds of heavy breathing. my heart drops like a discarded hard drive.
“onii-san!” chirps AVINA. “you have visitors!”
I’ve had a random thought that won’t go away for the past one or two episodes now, and it’s not really a theory, it’s just an intriguing thought.
Basically, it’s this observation that maybe we the audience are a literal part of the POI universe.
I mean yes, we are watching them, but I think it’s a little more than that. I think that maybe the Machine is showing them to us.
So when the Machine doesn’t function correctly… we are no longer shown POI in the way it was intended to be shown.
That’s why last week it skipped to the Relevant list. That’s why we’re the ones who keep seeing the glitches, not Harold. That’s why each scene transitions using the feeds from surveillance cameras.
But if this is true in any way, the real question is - who told the Machine to show them to us?
an interesting theory, but IMO it’d be damn near impossible to write an entire tv show that silently breaks the fourth wall like that. the best example i can think of is the “Blink” episode of Doctor Who, where the weeping angels can’t move if anyone is looking at them — including the audience. So the camera, and therefore the audience, is tacitly acknowledged by the universe inside the show.
but with Person of Interest, the only parts we see from the POV of the machine are the connection screens of CCTV footage etc. the other 95% of the show is normal TV drama format, which is obviously not Machine footage. it’s definitely the case that we see glitches/footage that Harold doesn’t know about, but that’s more like the way we see John doing things that Carter doesn’t see, and vice versa. the transitional screens are the scenes in which the Machine is the main character, rather than the Machine speaking directly to the audience, i think.
as a storytelling technique it’s certainly less ambitious than the Machine communicating directly with the audience, but i think Relevence was definitely a step in the right direction towards acknowledging the Machine as an actual character — particularly if you do view those transitional screens as being “Machine scenes” the same way there are John scenes, and Harold scenes, and scenes from the POV of minor characters.
TBH, i think POI could (and should) go a lot further with the surveillance/Machine details than they already do. it was a nice start to see drone footage in the transitional scenes in Relevance — because it was an episode from the point of view of someone working for the “official” side of the machine, which would presumably use more government footage…? — but i feel like as it stands, POI has barely scratched the surface. by and large, the ~futuristic technology~ in POI comes across as a lot of old-school background check/law-enforcement database stuff, plus the undeniably frightening concept of a Machine that can access… well, everything. but i don’t think we see enough of the “everything”, if you see what i mean. it should be scarier.
and this time next year, will Google Glass be incorporated into the show? i’m pretty sure that POI takes place in an alternate universe rather than the “real world” where most TV shows exist, but i’ll be interested to see whether a Google Glass equivalent is introduced.
“The Google Glass feature that (almost) no one is talking about is the experience – not of the user, but of everyone other than the user. A tweet by David Yee introduces it well: “There is a kid wearing Google Glasses at this restaurant which, until just now, used to be my favorite spot.” The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. I’ll give an easy example. Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take the glasses off (especially when, inevitably, the device is integrated into prescription lenses). Finally – here’s where the problems really start – you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you. Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world. Now, I know the response: “I’m recorded by security cameras all day, it doesn’t bother me, what’s the difference?” Hear me out – I’m not done. What makes Glass so unique is that it’s a Google project. And Google has the capacity to combine Glass with other technologies it owns.”
— The Google Glass feature no one is talking about, by Mark Hurst.
I can tell you that if i can get a hold of these, I will be wearing them in public. I don’t see any more impact than a video camera or recording device.
??? The whole point of the post you just reblogged is that Google Glass isn’t just like a normal video camera or recording device. The scenario for recording someone with a camera at the moment is you take the camera out and say, “Can I take a picture?”/”I’m going to take a picture.” Or even if you don’t say anything, people see the camera and know that now, a picture or movie is going to be taken. Which is why when you point a camera at someone, they pose or dodge out of frame, depending on whether or not they want to be photographed.
With Google Glass, people are effectively wearing a camera at all times. Which is basically the same as if you went around 24/7, pointing your iPhone at complete strangers all day. No one knows whether you are recording or not, or if someone is recording you, which will be incredibly uncomfortable for many people. You can be sitting on the bus, and the guy sitting across from you could be recording every single move you make to check up on later, and look up using facial recognition software. Or he might be checking his email. You don’t know.
Hmm, yes, fair point. I admit, I don’t *want* to interact with someone wearing google glasses either. :-/ But then, I don’t like interacting with people who are staring at their smartphones, and that’s becoming culturally acceptable.
that’s totally different, though. interacting with someone on a smartphone is the same as interacting with someone who is distracted by anything else: knitting, TV, a book, driving. but with google glass, you can have a perfectly “normal” conversation with someone but nevertheless be completely aware that you’re being recorded, meaning that you’re no longer acting naturally. essentially, everything in the world becomes reality tv.
april-rainer asked: Interesting post about Google Glasses. On one hand, I agree with you! There's something off-putting and cyberpunk-dystopia about the concept as whole. On the other hand, I'm not fully convinced that it is a new violation of privacy. Tiny devices that record video, or just audio have been around for ages. If someone cared, it wouldn't really be that hard to record you without your knowledge or permission and post it on the Internet. [con'd]
[continuing from my previous ask] The more I’ve learned about privacy and secrecy in a technologically advanced world (I work in computer security), the more I realize that nothing is really private or secure. That sounds like a bummer, but on the other hand, what keeps most of us very safe indeed is that we are, on the grand scale of things, fairly boring. If Google Glasses because widespread, think how much random crappy video there would be. No one could watch all of it.
first of all, that post was a quote rather than my own words, although i do agree with the post it originally came from.
it’s definitely true that it’s already possible to find a hell of a lot about people very easily, even without ~futuristic technology. i mean, thirty years ago you could tap phones and bug people’s homes and offices. a hundred years ago you could hire a detective to follow someone around and find out all their secrets. nowadays you can make use of social media and official/private databases to find out people’s personal info. but IMO, that is completely different from google glass.
although violation of privacy is part of the reason why google glass has the potential to be incredibly skeevy, a bigger part is the way it would totally change the way people interact. for example, nowadays you can hold a completely normal conversation with someone holding an iphone, even though an iphone technically has the potential to be recording your every move. but because google glass is right there in front of your face (and is designed to record whenever you tell it to do so), it’s immediately noticeable. so whenever you’re talking to (or existing anywhere near) someone wearing google glass, they could be recording you. or they could be checking their email, whatever. so first of all you’re gonna be paranoid that whatever you say and do is going to be recorded for posterity (so you’d BETTER BE CAREFUL and double-check everything before it comes out of your mouth! and make sure not to fall over or do anything embarrassing), and secondly you can’t really know if someone has your full attention.
it’s not so much about google glass being a step up in terms of “surveillance culture” so much as how incredibly uncomfortable it could make people feel.
also, the idea of being safe through being boring is kind of close to “the innocent have nothing to hide”. basically, it would completely suck to know that everything you do in your day-to-day life, from complaining about your boss to telling white lies to your parents to checking someone out on public transport, is potentially being recorded by strangers. it’s totally neurosis-inducing.
The Google Glass feature that (almost) no one is talking about is the experience – not of the user, but of everyone other than the user. A tweet by David Yee introduces it well:
"There is a kid wearing Google Glasses at this restaurant which, until just now, used to be my favorite spot."
The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. I’ll give an easy example. Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take the glasses off (especially when, inevitably, the device is integrated into prescription lenses). Finally – here’s where the problems really start – you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you.
Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.
Now, I know the response: “I’m recorded by security cameras all day, it doesn’t bother me, what’s the difference?” Hear me out – I’m not done. What makes Glass so unique is that it’s a Google project. And Google has the capacity to combine Glass with other technologies it owns. The Google Glass feature no one is talking about, by Mark Hurst.