Nanotechnology-based surveillance predicted

Nanotechnology-based surveillance predicted

For many years, Foresight has been pointing out that nanotechnology will be used for surveillance. Now Kevin Mitnick makes a long-term prediction on nanosurveillance. An excerpt:

Warrantless Surveillance: The Worst is Yet to Come

…Far from censuring the president, most of Congress seems completely unconcerned by the issue of warrantless surveillance. And telecom companies are quite happy to actively participate in warrantless surveillance. (Any idiot could see the program violated the Constitutional rights of their customers, yet only one provider – Qwest – reportedly refused government demands, citing serious concerns about the legality of the program.)

More importantly, as technology advances, so does the potential for that technology to be abused by authority.

A clue to what the future may hold in this regard can be found in the pallid attempt by some in the current administration to defend wireless surveillance by saying that the telephone calls and Internet traffic were not being monitored by human listeners. Instead, the monitoring was being done by computers running artificial intelligence software…

Let me go out on a limb and make some bold predictions. First: Within two decades a President or his/her designees will legitimize the warrantless search of private property, using a robot instead of human beings to conduct the search. (It’s not a search and seizure, banned by the Constitution, because it’s not being done by a human – right?). Second: By 2040, advances in nanotechnology will allow swarms of nanobots (or “nanoids”) to perform these activities in a virtually undetectable way.

My concern is the future of telecommunications and the Internet. If the President of the United States can today unilaterally decide to wiretap any U.S. citizen without court authority and without any oversight, with the breakthroughs in technology that are undoubtedly coming, what does the future hold for us?

What indeed. The foresighted among us would do well to start coming up with guidelines that we can advocate in this new area. Volunteers? (Credit: Brian Berg) —Christine

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  1. Patrick Lin January 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    What a coincidence, Christine…we’re about to submit a NSF proposal to study the privacy and trust implications arising out of nanotechnology. If this study gets funding, it won’t be until the end of the year at the earliest, but we’ll be sure to invite Foresight associates to participate, given that your organization and members have been thinking about these issues longer than most anyone else! In the meantime, this will be a very interesting area to keep tabs on…

  2. Michael Gusek January 19, 2008 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    I am in no way an expert in this area, but I would be willing to play a support role if someone would take the lead.

    IMO, transparency is going to have to be a 2-way street if we are to be monitored in such a way. Also, I can see the temptation being huge to spy on our medical health as well, destroying HIPAA. Any smart systems designer would have interactivity between internal, medically diagnostic nanobots and an external intelligence, or in this case the “impenetrable internet of the sky”.

  3. […] The US military has made the development and mastery of this technology a high priority. This, when viewed in light of the increasing levels of (and efforts towards) militarization of our society, especially at the highest echelons of executive power, indicate that the wariness seen today needs to be extended beyond the standard policy formulations of risk, especially as we approach the realization of these tools of infinite potential. Without an eye to the greatest possible abuses, future defensive mechanisms and regulatory structures designed to preserve the notion of freedom currently enjoyed by many US citizens may prove woefully inadequate for their purpose. Tagged with: biomarkers, civil military relations, militarism, nanotechnology, nanotubes […]

  4. Nanotech and Privacy » TNTlog January 21, 2008 at 2:52 am - Reply

    […] For years I have been wondering where all these rather odd concerns about nanotechnology having a negative impact on privacy were coming from, and now someone has owned up! Of course the major impact is coming from the growing use of interlinked databases hooked up to a variety of number plate recognition, mobile phone and credit card systems which could in theory allow an unscrupulous government to monitor your every move. However, living in the UK with the governments rather poor record of major IT projects the major threat to privacy seems to come from governments officials losing and misplacing data. […]

  5. Weaver January 23, 2008 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    This has been a hobby horse of mine for some decades.
    Corporate concerns pursue the commercial ideal of dictating to the market place, therefore their political associates vacilitate the scenario, or were you under the impression that because you elected them into office that they catered to your concerns?

    With the present state of electronic voting media, it’s even become doubtful that you elected them into office.

    Count me in.

    No conspiracy theorist here, just no pollyanna, cream brick veneereal diseased misconceptions either.

    Our mode of thinking has to change.
    There’s nothing wrong with technological advancement, just the way we persist in employing it.

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