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The use of technology to control society.

The use of technology to control society.

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The very last one half of the twentieth century has seen an important increase in using science and technology for purposes of sociable management. Examples include video and audio surveillance, heat, light, motion, sound and olfactory sensors, electronic tagging of consumer items, animals and humans, biometric access codes, drug testing, DNA analysis and the use of computer techniques such as expert systems, matching and profiling, data mining, mapping, network analysis, and simulation. Control technologies have become available that previously existed only in the dystopic imaginations of science fiction writers. Many technologies developed for the military such as spy and global positioning satellites and night vision scopes have become commercially available. Six technology based strategies of control and some social and ethical issues they raise are discussed.

As used here societal handle identifies efforts to enforce norms by avoiding offenses or identifying and apprehending violators, rather than for some other facets of interpersonal handle including the production of norms, functions of adjudication and sanctioning, or maybe the broad social direction and integration that has been of worry to early theorists of industrialization and urbanization. The engineering of social control can be differentiated from related control forms such as the creation and manipulation of culture and socialization, the redistributive rewards of the welfare state and inter-personal influences. The increased prominence of social control via engineering is related to concerns over issues such as crime, terrorism, drug abuse, border controls, AIDS and economic competitiveness and to technical developments in electronics, computerization, artificial intelligence, bio-chemistry, architecture and materials science. The scale, mobility and anonymity of mass society and ironically, increased expectations of, an protections for privacy, have furthered reliance on external, impersonal, distance-mediated, secondary technical means and data-base memories that locate, identify, register, record, classify and validate or generate grounds for suspicion. The perception of catastrophic risks in an interdependent world relying on complex technologies and the entrepreneurial efforts of the security industry and governments such as the United States with its’ war on drugs, have helped spread the technologies internationally.

You will find a magisterial, authenticity-giving aura around both regulation and science. (Ericson and Shearing 1986). Too often they serve as their own justification divorced from broader critical questions. Technological controls, presumably being science based, are justified as valid, objective, neutral, universal, consensual and fair. This view tends to overlook the fact that results are socially interpreted (and thus potentially disputable) and it overlooks the personal interests of control agents and the sectarian, socially constructed interests agents may represent. This legitimacy is strengthened in free market societies where the tactics can often be used by citizens (e.g., video cameras to record police behavior or DNA analysis offered by a criminal defendant) and internally by police managers for guarding the guards.

Naturally the inventors and property builders of your initially fastens, safes, moats and castles and also the developers of early on biometric recognition techniques (e.g., the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso 1835-1909) have been involved in the architectural of societal managing. What is new is the scale and relatively greater scientific precision, continual invention and experimentation and rapid global diffusion. Technical means of control saturate modern society, colonizing and documenting ever more areas of life. The roots of contemporary social control lie in the development of large organizations and standardized control technologies. (Beniger 1986) They are one strand of broad processes of rationalization, professionalization and specialization occuring with modernization. (Weber 1964, Rule 1973, Foucault 1977, Cohen 1985, Laudon 1986, Gandy 1993, Zuboff 198 8, Lyon 1994, Shenhav 1999).

The amount of versions as guards, display screens and controllers in accordance with mankind is constantly increase. Control has become softer and less visible partly because it is built-in (e.g.,software that sends an internet message or shuts down if it is misused or that monitors work –such as the number of keystrokes entered or the driving behavior of truckers), and partly because of more sophisticated uses of deception (complex undercover operations and disguised video cameras). Much contemporary control is better symbolized by manipulation than coercion, by computer chips than prison bars, and by remote and invisible tethers and filters, than by handcuffs, straitjackets and physical walls. Being more covert, embedded and remote, it is often involuntary, occuring without the awareness or consent of its subject. Controllers are increasingly able to know things about subjects that the latter do not know about themselves and to make decisions affecting their life chances of which they are unaware.

Contemporary social control has become more extensive and casts a much wider net than at mid-twentieth century, continuing an expansionary trend that began with industrialization and the rise of the nation-state. Control involves ever more integrated information-sharing networks, blurring many traditional institutional and organizational borders (e.g., within and between agencies and levels of government, banks, insurance, health care, education, work, telecommunications and sales and marketing organizations). This data-sharing is taken further in the United States than in Canada or Europe. Technical controls are capital- rather than labor- intensive and hence the cost of control per unit of information has decreased. More objects and areas are subjected to inspection and control and there is a broadening from the traditional targeting of a specific suspect, to categorical suspicion (e.g., the computer search, video camera, or metal detector capture information on all those within their province) and from individuals to networks and organizations.

Handle has additionally be a tad bit more intensive, probing deeply beneath protection places. Many contemporary controls transcend boundaries of distance, darkness, physical barriers and time, –factors which traditionally protected liberty, as well as malfeasance. Data can be easily stored, retrieved, combined (from different places and in different forms such as visual, auditory, print and numerical), analyzed and communicated. A reliance on technology for social control is a hallmark of private police who, in the United States (although not in Europe), far out number public police. It is also seen in the workplace, the marketplace, schools and even among friends and family members. In the case of children for example there are at home video and audio room monitors, geographic location devices for tracking teenagers in cars, drug tests, beepers, records of phone and computer use and internet content filters that censor what can be accessed. Consider also “intelligent highway systems” or the “smart homes” that are appearing on the market in which all data flows into, and out of, the home are part of an integrated, continuously monitored system.