T Nation

Police Futurism and Technology

POLICE FUTURISM & TECHNOLOGY

“It is the business of the future to be dangerous” (Alfred North Whitehead)

Futurism is more than just peering into or predicting the future 5, 10 (short term) or 20 (long term) years from now. It's a philosophical perspective that believes behind every social problem, there's a golden opportunity, that we create our own future, and that anything can be done. It's not just about technology or techno-optimism. Technology itself is amoral, and can be used for good or bad. Police futurism is about "smart" or "intelligent" use of technology to maintain that balance of tradeoffs (freedoms given up; freedoms to do as one pleases) we call a constitutional democracy. Most of all, it's about the value choices we make as a society and demand of our leaders. At some point, any freedom achieved may not be worth the freedom given up. This approach is sometimes called value-loaded futurology.

To be sure, there are certain "trends" that are fairly easy to spot. Some of these are discussed in textbooks (e.g., Gaines, Kappeler & Vaughn 1999), and include the following with personal commentary added...

http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/205/205lect14.htm

[quote]ssn0 wrote:
Futurism is more than just peering into or predicting the future 5, 10 (short term) or 20 (long term) years from now. It’s a philosophical perspective that believes behind every social problem, there’s a golden opportunity, that we create our own future, and that anything can be done. [/quote]

Very true, and very sad. Most people accept without questioning that technology and innovations are intrinsically good and that we are, as a species, making progress. That is, that history has an “arrow,” with man’s perfection somewhere along the horizon. If only people could see that this isn’t necessarily true…

We have a similar problem with how we deal with the past.

Things that are older than ourselves, traditions, items, historic events or whatever somehow accumulate importance above things of the present.

Even people put into positions of importance that are wrapped up in tradition or history are somehow transformed in our minds to be special.

[quote]nephorm wrote:
Very true, and very sad. Most people accept without questioning that technology and innovations are intrinsically good and that we are, as a species, making progress. That is, that history has an “arrow,” with man’s perfection somewhere along the horizon. If only people could see that this isn’t necessarily true…[/quote]

i’m with you. Technology is a “tool”, no good neither bad. Its “implementation” and its use may be good or evil…

however, i believe, manhood is a big stupid beast, not so smart but with an ego really too big

I don’t know, philosophically, that we can wash our hands of the uses that technology is applied to when we create something we know has incredible potential for misuse.

I don’t mean unforseen or accidental consequences, but when the technology is developed knowing the initial planned use is precisely for exterminating other people in bold new ways.

In particular, it generally takes a lot of work and effort to weaponize a technology… creating new supporting technologies and systems in the process of doing so.

For example, I wouldn’t say we shouldn’t study nanotechnology. However, there will certainly at some point be misuse of nanotechnology in order to kill people, damage equipment, destroy crops or otherwise cause havoc.

There is, hopefully, a difference between furthering a technology such as nanotechnology and being someone who actively works to target it as a directed method of attacking and destroying enemy targets.

Interesting issue.

Arizona has Computer programs that recognize Facial signatures and they use it regularly for their Photo Radar program. But I am sure it reaches far beyond Traffic Citations
Now all Drivers Licenses are Digitally Photographed

[quote]vroom wrote:
For example, I wouldn’t say we shouldn’t study nanotechnology. However, there will certainly at some point be misuse of nanotechnology in order to kill people, damage equipment, destroy crops or otherwise cause havoc.[/quote]

Unfortunately, that’s human nature. I’m sure the first few men who figured out you could forge bronze didn’t take long to make knives and swords out of it.

For example, I read this week that some possible sequences of DNA never appear anywhere in the human genome. Scientists wonder if those sequences are somehow dangerous or toxic… and have received funding from the DoD who’s interested in finding out that particular factoid. ( http://space.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19325853.200&feedId=online-news_rss20 ) (of course, it’s the New Scientist, so bring along a few grains of salt…)

The irony of it is that often technology first developed for the military eventually trickles down and is then used for the benefit of large populations. GPS being a prime example. It brings a lot more cars to their destination than it puts missiles through windows. It’s probably not something a private company would’ve developed, since the cost of sending and maintaining the satellite network would’ve been prohibitive.