One of the topics that bobbed up repeatedly in our discussions yesterday was to do with being observed.
For the most part, the effect is that of discomfort. Existing power structures reasserting themselves in a quiet way, data sucked away to be used for obscure purposes by an unknown agent years from now. Passers-by get spooked by being singled out on the screen of a public artwork, and bar workers are made uncomfortable by cameras put in place by a creepy boss.
Humans are hardwired to be wary of being stalked by predators, after all.
On the other end of the spectrum, (and especially in the past year and a half) there’s been systems set up where patients in palliative care can be watched by their loved ones in their final moments. Streamers share moments that would otherwise be private, and both the watchers and the watched get a sense of community they wouldn’t have otherwise. Religious people can take solace from the omnipresent eye of a watchful god.
Technology amplifies anything human, and I guess an abstract presence – friendly or antagonistic – is like having a person there in the room with you, with everything that entails.
– Andrey Pissantchev