[-empyre-] surveillance and capitalism

himself at robbycollins.com himself at robbycollins.com
Fri Feb 19 01:21:54 AEDT 2021

Hallo all, 

The mechanical surveillance that Alex describes strikes me as incredibly
brutal and pervasive in its simplicity. It shows how the presence of
cameras are so important. 

I often engage in a little retospeculative design when I hear of new
applications of technology. Imagining how these systems might have been
enacted in the past and how they would have been subverted or avoided: 

  - A pile of books on an office chair that uses a switch to detect when
someone is sitting in it, and apparently working. 

  - The natural sense that workers develop for the presence of
management on the 'shop floor and perform for the duration. 

  - Homer Simpson's nodding bird pressing the big red button on his
remote nuclear power station terminal... 

It's a strange non-linear surveillance with cameras in the workplace. No
one is watching you in real time. There's no security guard looking at a
screen. But, if you or anyone else does something that is deemed
remarkable (for this AI), you are now being watched sometime now, in the
past, or in the future. A Schrödinger's box of varying cats and
radioactive sources that can be opened at any time. 

I wrote a little thought-piece, to myself, about a potential
surveillance methodology called posture surveillance. [1] It imagined
something beyond facial recognition and emotion tracking, which used our
whole body as a data source through our stance, gait and the general way
we hold ourselves and move through our environment. It's a clumsy
thought experiment, but it made me think about how I have 'performed'
(and still perform) in certain environments - my 15-year-old self
confidently, but nonchalantly, walking up to the doorman of the
nightclub I needed to get into, or the finely balanced
confident/no-threat walk as I passed a gang of 'youths' on a dark
street. Both unknown and unpredictable entities where I projected
identities and desires and tried to be the thing that would get me
through the gate. 

The more we know about the surveillance around us, the more we
co-perform with it. In the posture tracking example, when we know that
this aspect of ourselves is being monitored, how do we figure out the
best "citizen posture", and where is it applicable? We also need to be
deferential and humble at times. Do we all adopt a neutral walk to
normalise this for the AI? But what happens when an individual adopts a
new posture that resonates with his success at being a good citizen! How
can such a system be gamed? 

I'll stop there before I go entirely overboard (I'll do that on my own)
and see if anyone has more thoughts about this
co-performance/entanglement [2] that we enact with technology and how it
could be observed and weighed as a source for exposing these voids where
resistance can be applied.



On 16/02/2021 22:28, Simon wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space---------------------- 
> On 17/02/21 9:32 am, Renate Ferro wrote: 
>> if you all think we can go back to before Covid existance without webcams, zoom, and tracking surveillance.
> at the same time as we have seen the overthrow of capitalism--governments finding again that lever that was being hidden from them, that in large part they hid from themselves, and switching off the economy--we see an explosion of all sorts of data-gathering and surveillance. This is now seen as the ally of governmentality. And, it follows, financialising data is regarded as the basis for political economy. Newly, that is, paradigmatic. 
> At my own place of work, a public library, where I am a part-time worker, kiosks have been installed with finger-vein scanners, so that workers can clock-in, and -out. 
> The library is run by Auckland City Council and the new Time and Attendance model, as it is called, is being rolled out by a private company, HumanForce, who are charged with taking care of the biometric data gathered by their machines.  
> One detail is striking, considering the application of these kiosks at a library: subcutaneous finger-vein scanning is the preferred mode of identifying individuals _because workers hands can be dirty _making fingerprinting difficult. 
> It's all those dirty books! 
> Best, 
> Simon 
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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