Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 19:49 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 19:49 | SYDNEY

Rise of the machines


Sam Roggeveen


17 December 2009 10:17

A further thought on my post from yesterday on Google's new Goggle application. When I said that 'the mind reels at the implications of all this', I meant it. But I've since had time to reflect on it a little further, and I think one thing we definitely need to do is look beyond the conventional international relations categories of state power and conflict.

Yes, facial recognition tools might become another way for the state to monitor and suppress its own citizens or those of other countries, but the important thing about this technology is how cheap it is becoming, meaning it is likely to become ubiquitous. As we know already, the ubiquity of high technology has had huge beneficial consequences.

But what technology such as Goggle also promises is to be another weapon in the armoury of those dubbed 'super-empowered individuals':

Superempowered individuals are not mere terrorists with bigger, badder, car bombs. Imad Fayez Mugniyah and even Timothy McVeigh, who carried out thev Oklahoma City bombing in what must have been a very small and insular cell of extremists, are not the models despite their impressive accomplishments at mass murder. Nor are the great monster-rulers of the past like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin who were State-empowered leaders acting through the vast governmental apparatus of the nation-state. To qualify as a superempowered individual, the actor must be able to initiate a destructive event, fundamentally with their own resources, that cascades systemically on a national, regional or global scale. They must be able to credibly, "declare war on the world".

Photo by Flickr user San Diego Shooter, used under a Creative Commons license.