22. sept., 2020

From Hyper-monitoring to Self-Monitoring

"These insurance companies, associated or grouped with social networks or data managers, will not only require their clients to pay premiums (to insure against illness, unemployment, death, theft, fire, insecurity), but they will also verify that they comply with standards to minimize the risks they will have to run. They will gradually come to dictate global standards (what to eat? what to know? how to drive? how to protect themselves? how to consume? how to produce?). They will penalize smokers, drinkers, the obese, the unemployable, the unprotected, the aggressive, the imprudent, the clumsy, the distracted, the wasteful. Ignorance, exposure to risk, waste, vulnerability will be considered as diseases. Insurance companies will then merge with large database managers such as Google. (…)

For insurance companies to be economically profitable, everyone - private individuals, companies - will have to accept that a third party will verify their compliance with the standards; to do so, everyone will have to agree to be monitored. "Surveillance": The key word of the times to come.

Thus, first of all, "hypersurveillance" will emerge. Technologies will make it possible to know everything about the origins of products and the movement of people, which will also have essential military applications in the more distant future. Sensors and miniature cameras placed in all public and private places, in offices and rest areas, and finally on nomadic objects themselves, including private drones, will monitor the comings and goings of people; the telephone already makes it possible to communicate and be tracked: biometric technologies (fingerprints, iris, hand and face shapes) will make it possible to monitor travelers, workers and consumers. Countless analysis machines will make it possible to monitor the health of a body, a mind or a product.

The unique nomadic object will be permanently locatable. All the data it will contain, including images of everyone's daily life, will be connected, stored and sold to specialized companies and public and private police forces. Individual health and skills data will be kept up to date by private databases that will allow predictive tests to be organized for preventive treatment. The prison itself will be gradually replaced by remote monitoring of home confinement. (…)

Around 2040, the market will not only organize remote monitoring: mass-produced industrial objects will allow everyone to "self-monitor" their own compliance with standards: "self-monitors" will appear. Machines will allow everyone - companies or private individuals - to monitor their consumption of energy, water, raw materials, etc. throughout the world; others will allow them to self-monitor their savings and assets (...). Connected technologies will multiply these means of portable monitoring.

(Free translation from the French Edition)

A Brief History of the Future: A Brave and Controversial Look at the Twenty-first Century, p. 259, Jacques Attali