I am fascinated by the Law. But my personality was never wired to be a student of the Law. So instead of reading Law, I watch it. I have invested significant amounts of my free time in watching every TV legal drama series and movie that I can find. So, when a friend of mine in a major law enforcement agency recommended I watch Person of Interest, a drama series that has the coveted 9pm primetime slot on Thursdays, I was immediately fascinated.
Click here to watch the official main title sequence from CBS.com. The sequence is only 38 seconds long. But, in that time, it gives you an idea about what surveillance cameras observe today. For those of you who are not familiar with this drama series, it creates fictional crimes by or against “ordinary people” that the series’ creators call “irrelevant” by the government. These “ordinary people” are probably best described as those of us who are not on a Wanted poster or on some watch list somewhere. Each episode deals with individual struggles or tragedies.
The drama series demonstrates how Big Data technologies can impact “ordinary people”. It shows where we go, with whom we meet, the correspondence we send are all fair game for surveillance, capture and analysis. For me, it highlighted the impact of our highly connected life can be all about.
The series also highlights how a coordinated effort between security and law enforcement agencies across all levels of government, and at times, with the mutual assistance of the private sector,can benefit not only a demographic group of citizens, but it can even have a beneficial impact to individual citizens. (Of course, it is necessary to point out that the abuse of this technology can have negative consequences to individuals too, but let’s stay positive!).
At this point, I have to point out that I do not want to be drawn into a discussion about privacy. That discussion is way beyond the scope of this blog. So I respectfully ask that readers not post comments or reach out to me purely on the topic of privacy!
As I started watching episode after episode of the series, in order to catch up, it made me think about what the original readers would have thought of George Orwell’s opus, 1984, when it was first published back in 1949. I remember even as the year 1984 approached, many readers of Orwell continue to question the plausibility of his fictional propositions.
But unlike Orwell’s readers, I think watchers of this TV series are more likely to consider what CBS is portraying as at least conceivable, if not probable. As an eternal optimist, I believe that good will come out of “Big Brother” usingBig Data. I believe that society will
benefit. I believe that it will help to combat crime and suppress breaches of national security.
So remember, next time you walk down the street and observe a security camera, “Big Brother is watching you!“