by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2016
Given pervasive surveillance and ubiquitous wearables, how much violent social unrest will the TES communities support? How much policing will be done by cyber, how much by humans? How will they divide the workload?
This is the topic of this essay.
In theory, law and order should be at all time highs in the 2050's. As pointed out above, with pervasive surveillance and ubiquitous wearables it should be possible to know as soon as any criminal activity starts. In fact, that may not be the limit. If a criminal is getting excited anticipating an upcoming crime, the wearables should be able to detect that excitement and do some preventive alerting.
But how close to this crime-free ideal are the 2050's likely to be? Given the fact that there are still lots of humans involved, it may remain an aspiration.
As an example of an obstacle: How will corruption and special influence be handled? These are instinctive. They are fed by the system gaming instinct and ambition. They won't disappear. So one question becomes who will prosecute these when it has been decided that the activity has crossed the line and become illegal? Once again, because of high emotional content, the prosecutors in criminal cases are likely to be human.
It is unlikely that cyber justice will happen in anything but the most routine crimes. Minor traffic violations would be an example, including driverless cars.
Cyber will be a lot more pervasive in business disputes because both sides are loaded with "time is money" people, and these kinds of people are happy with quick resolutions.
So criminal accusations will stay in human hands a long time, and business disputes will evolve differently from criminal disputes. An example of this happening in the 2010's is the trend towards binding arbitration in health care disputes.
One of the questions that every TES community will face is how much of regulation to hand over to cyber decision making. The more that is handed over the faster and more rational the choices will be. But these choices will lack the human touch. They will not reflect human instinctive thinking-based agendas such as Save the World, Protect the Children and Help the Poor. Choices not being based on these instinctive thinking agendas will bother many people.
Not too surprising will be that this bother also supports corruption and special influence.
In this section, by crime I mean things such as outright stealing of physical stuff. (not finance-style confidence-game style stealing) By violence I mean humans assaulting other humans and vandalizing property. Robbing a liquor store and beating up the clerk would be an archetypical mix of crime and violence.
There will still be youngsters and teenagers, so there will still be people who want to do these kinds of things because they stimulate a lot of instinctive pleasure. Mix this in with the fact that, overall, humans will be doing a lot more instinctively feel-good things, and a big question becomes how to draw the line? What specific activities will make this crime and violence instinct not good, while conversely, close-to-crossing-the-line activities in help the poor, protecting children, urban legend, and mind altering arenas are good?
This is going to be a tough one to deal with because the instincts are so strong on both sides of this issue. There will be youngsters who want to push limits and prank, and oldsters who are fearful of getting criminalized. If a kid steals a lawn chair from a porch, then gives it back, is he or she criminal? If a kid rings a doorbell at midnight, leaves a bag of dog poop on the porch, runs off a short way and watches what happens when the owner opens the door, is he or she criminal? Conversely, if a street corner sign holder type routinely takes a half-hour break in a nearby restaurant restroom, are they being criminal?
Even with pervasive surveillance this conflict of interests and emotions is going to be hard to find good solutions to.
How will people who get violent from stress (bitch slappers and child beaters) be handled? People have both: instincts to fear violence, and instincts to be violent. How will these mix with pervasive wearables and surveillance?
In theory, and in 1984ish scenarios, very little actual violence will happen. As soon as someone, or some gang, starts to run amok, it is spotted and cyber security can be on the spot in minutes. Plus, as pointed out above, the wearables can respond even faster. If a person is anticipating being criminal that will show up in their metabolism and the wearables can be alerted, and they can alert cyber security.
Still, people have the being-fearful instinct -- ironically, many people worry because they aren't being fearful of some specific threat, as in, "What am I missing that I should be worrying about?" So, given all of the above, what will people be fearful of?
One possibility is what is now called micro aggression, as in, being really thin-skinned and being upset by just hearing bad words or seeing bad gestures. Whew! But possible. If it comes to this, then shaming techniques will be well-developed and carry a lot of clout -- gossips will be back, big time.
Another scenario is that privacy advocates ham-string this security-enhancing feature of wearables. They see it as too likely to be abused by government types who use it to enforce propaganda of various types, as in, "Thinking wrong about Fearless Leader is the equivalent of criminal violence." This will come across much like the gun-carrying issue does today in America. These types will argue, "Lets have the freedom of action that privacy permits and tolerate the violence." But this won't blend well with instinctive fearfulness.
An example of this freedom of action quandary is how to treat prostitution. A fearful extension of this is father-daughter incest. Wearables will be able to detect both of these intentions well before any action is taken.
Pure First Amendment support is likely to become a small voice in the wilderness. This is because the freedom of expression that First Amendment supports won't be important to progress anymore, because people aren't doing important things anymore, when viewed from the material prosperity point of view. Progress will not suffer if people can't talk about unpleasant things to hear about. So, why not enforce speech being always pleasant?
Mixed in with this will be a lot of urban legend. There will be legends about: surveillance, what wearables are capable of, what happens if you "cast off" your wearables, what cyber enforcers can do, what cyber enforcers can't do, and much more. Given how influential urban legend is going to be in TES communities, these are important to what policies and actions are taken.
What will human police people and First Responders be doing? These are "Top 40 Jobs", so there will still be lots of people aspiring to be doing these jobs. How will they interact with cyber, and the alerts that wearables can be sending to cyber?
How much will War on Drugs-style quasi-military policing still be conducted, as versus, community-relations no-guns-involved supporting-style? The former has a lot of instinctive appeal to bullying type personalities, and to fearful people in the community who still need a good witch hunt to sleep well at night. The latter powerfully strokes the Helping The Poor instinct.
The latter -- community helper activities -- will appeal to social justice types who want to help the poor, earn the respect of school kids, and mediate in domestic disputing.
One twist of this surveillance and wearables issue will be that someone who isn't carrying a full load of wearables will be automatically suspicious as being a criminal. But... there will be protesters who don't wear a full load because they are protesting ubiquitous surveillance, or are celebrating some "back to nature" movement. Again, it will be much like the American 2nd Amendment gun carrying issues are in the 2010's.
Will criminal justice procedures get less ritualized and more efficient? They certainly can if people of the community choose to pay attention to the processes. If many people pay attention lots of improvements can be implemented.
But this is another highly instinctive activity. The criminal justice system is a modern day form of exile, and exiles are not paid attention to. It won't change unless a lot of people see compelling benefit in the change.
At this point, I don't see a scenario where that happens.
How common will witch hunting be?
This will happen when people get deeply fearful for some reason and decide to take it out on other people. In the TES states how often will this happen? Will cyber and pervasive surveillance spot the fearfulness coming and derail the chain of events causing it? Or will the instinct be too strong for orderly responsive action to keep suppressed?
A big part of this issue will be what is still surprising in the 2050's? If there are still scary surprises, such as recessions or high-profile terrorist attacks, then witch hunting will still be a common response.
If shaming is a powerful activity, that will allow witch hunting to be powerful as well. If real tolerance is not taught and practiced, that too will let witch hunting happen. Because most people are not going to be closely connected to day-to-day situations that require lots of cooperation, intolerance supported by urban legend is likely to be very common. This is the current micro aggression sensitivity trend amplified.
There is a lot of uncertainty in my mind in how law and orders issues will be handled in the 2050's. I'm uncertain because of how much instinctive thinking is wrapped up in violent criminal activities.
The technology is there to control much violence -- pervasive surveillance and ubiquitous wearables -- but how these will mix with instinctive thinking in the TES lifestyles is a big question mark in my mind.