I'm restricting my Internet time in order to accelerate the writing. I can't sell unwritten books. Maybe one day I'll be able to phone a publisher and say 'I'm working on a new book' and they'll say 'Ooo, have some money' but that is far in the future. I'm still at the stage of contacting publishers with 'I have written a book' and they say 'Yeah? So? Put it on the big pile and we'll get around to rejecting it later.'
Anyway, today I concentrated on some of the mechanics of Panoptica, specifically the CCTV which is even more widespread than in the real world. We already have speaking ones in Aberdeen and have had them for years, but they are run by operators. When you hear a voice there is a real person on the other end of it.
That does not quite fit with Panoptica. Nobody is supposed to know when they are actually being watched. There are so many cameras that nobody could possibly watch all the output, so if the proles work out which cameras the watchers pay most attention to, they'll know which ones to avoid.
There was a brief idea of having cameras run by a computer using artificial intelligence - but this is a Government computer system so writing about one that actually worked at that level would be totally unrealistic. Basic record and store functions, chip detection, okay, but a government with a Star Trek computer you can have a conversation with? Not gonna happen. Even if it did, one conversation with an MP and it would self-destruct.
Recorded threats triggered by motion detectors would fit the theme. In fact, I realised I don't even need motion detectors because roadside RFID tracks everyone's embedded chip. Hang around in one place too long and you get a 'Move on' from the cameras.
(Note to those who spotted it - no, Panoptica doesn't really need the cameras because they can track your chip. The cameras have two functions - to catch the few without chips and to intimidate everyone else into compliance).
Cameras with recorded 'get lost' messages have been around for a while but aren't often used yet. I didn't think we had very many in this country and that those few we did have would be on military or private property.
It seems I underestimated Council paranoia.
If you live in a block of flats in Camden, London, and you go outside to smoke, until recently an automatic camera photographed you and shouted at you. It wasn't intended to talk, apparently, its voice function was switched on accidentally when someone changed the batteries. We weren't supposed to know about this particular function yet.
So this camera was installed because of local yobbery, yes?
Home Office crime maps show no crimes were recorded on the estate in 2011.
No. Then again, installing cameras is what councils do these days and nobody would even notice a new one. Not until it starts talking, which it apparently wasn't meant to do.
Big Brother Watch had this to say -
'Who knew councils had the authority to take your photograph simply because you walked into a communal garden?'
Well... I have the authority to take your photo in a public place. So does everyone else because there are no restrictions on photography in public places. I've seen traffic wardens doing it too. They place a ticket on a car and then take a photo so they can prove they've been doing their jobs. Therefore the council don't need any authority to take photos in public because there is no law stopping anyone doing that.
There is one difference where the council is concerned. Let's say you want to take a photo of me in a public place. I have no right to object. Let's say you want me to buy you the camera first. Then I object. Councils can play at Stasi with their little cameras all they want but when those cameras are paid for by the very people they are spying on, then something, somewhere is wrong.
There is one thing in that story that neither the 'nowhere to hide, nothing to fear' nor the 'Police State' commenters seem to have noticed.
The council also revealed that all flash cameras 'have the capacity to deliver voice messages when activated'.
Panoptica is still fiction, but much of the technical infrastructure is not only available, it's already been installed. All they need to do is turn it on.
You can already be tracked around a shopping centre via the phone in your pocket. Money transfers using phones are already possible, credit cards have chips in them, embedded chips are already in most pets and it is now one, tiny, barely perceptible step to putting those tracking chips in your children and then in you.
How long can you resist? When everyone else has them, when they replace credit cards, when they open your doors and start your car and log you on to the internet, when hardly anywhere takes cash any more, when all those non-chip alternatives start to fade out of use, how long can you resist?
When you have one of the few remaining cars operated with a key, all the car thieves are looking at yours. When your house is the only one with keyholes, where will the burglar strike? When you are the only one carrying your chip on a card rather than having it embedded, when you are the only one carrying cash, who does the mugger seek out?
The ultimate in security. The ultimate in control
But I'm giving away too much of the story here. I'm also risking providing the sales pitch for the chips!
Right. Back to the world of fiction before reality catches up.