In books and films, Panopticonic nightmares are those in which it is impossible to go anywhere or to do anything without being seen and acknowledged by an omnipresent eye.
In Leon, Mexico, that nightmare is soon to become a reality as a company by the name of Global Rainmakers is going to fill the city with iris scanners that will essentially track your every move.
Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) announced today that it is rolling out its iris scanning technology to create what it calls “the most secure city in the world.” In a partnership with Leon — one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of more than a million — GRI will fill the city with eye-scanners. That will help law enforcement revolutionize the way we live — not to mention marketers.
Eyes are everywhere — just about everyone has them. But how will the system know which eyes belong to what person?
To implement the system, the city is creating a database of irises. Criminals will automatically be enrolled, their irises scanned once convicted. Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in. When these residents catch a train or bus, or take out money from an ATM, they will scan their irises, rather than swiping a metro or bank card.
The fact that people who are not criminals do not have to opt into the system sounds fine in theory, but in practice it does not work out so well.
As more and more people adopt the new technology and people are paying for their purchases using their eyes, the few who don’t choose to do so will inevitably get cold stares (pun not intended) from fellow shoppers who want to get their shopping done or to get on the bus faster.
For such a Big Brother-esque system, why would any law-abiding resident ever volunteer to scan their irises into a public database, and sacrifice their privacy? GRI hopes that the immediate value the system creates will alleviate any concern. “There’s a lot of convenience to this–you’ll have nothing to carry except your eyes,” says Carter, claiming that consumers will no longer be carded at bars and liquor stores. And he has a warning for those thinking of opting out: “When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in.”
A frightening outlook for us all if we are all eventually to be forced to opt into such a system of Panopticonic madness.
If you were on the fence about becoming a hermit and living in a cave, now may be the best time to go for it.