The new morality - living fearlessly in the face of ubiquitous surveillance

Lost your phone? No problem, Apple's 'Find My iPhone' will help you find it. Lost your spouse? No problem, some of the more sophisticated iPhone trackers will let you record audio and take pictures remotely.


What, that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable? You do realise that nearly everywhere you go and everything you do is captured electronically anyway, right?

Your location, words and actions are being captured all the time in various ways.

Of course, you know about the traffic cameras at red lights and on toll roads. And the security cameras on buildings and in public places. And you might know about your neighbour remotely watching his security camera as it captures a couple of thieves in action. And don't forget to look up, as drones and kites with cameras gain popularity. Even the photos you post online report exactly where you live, work and play - and when! Of course, everywhere where you walk, ride and drive (and how fast) could be tracked by anyone using Bluetooth - because who turns that off on their phone?

The government is helping by keeping records of where you are longer than the phone companies do - maybe that will one day help to prove your guilt or innocence.

Were you really working late? Or did you just go down to the pub for a drink with your mates?

Is Ferris Bueller really at home sick? Or is he enjoying a baseball game on an adventurous day off?

In the classic 1986 film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Bueller's principal turns away from the TV just in time to miss Bueller catching a fly ball. Now broadcast TV is joined by technology like Google Glass. Imagine when Blaise Agüera y Arcas develops the video-based version of Photosynth, tying together amateur Glass-style videos into a 3D video of any street, cafe or other public (or even private) space.

So what does this have to do with morality? In Luke 12:2-3, Jesus says, "... There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops."

Jesus doesn't quite talk about exposé blogs or YouTube, but over the next couple of years, this verse is going to become even more true than it has ever been before. Or, as Numbers 32:23b says, "... be sure your sin will find you out."

Like all future trends, we can fear them or embrace them. Technology is agnostic, neither good or evil - it can be used for both. There are two kinds of people who will never need to fear from the use of these kinds of technologies - the honest (Matthew 5:37) and the authentic (1 John 1:9).

As for the innocent hiding from tyranny, there will be 'countermeasures' - just as Twitter is being used today to spread messages of freedom, tomorrow's revolutionaries will find ways to disrupt the pervasive capturing of their lives - hazing cameras with lasers or broadcasting static in directed signals toward capture devices. It's still possible to be anonymous on the Internet - you just have to be careful.

So live bold, true to your values; and live loud, an interesting and healthy voice that inspires others. Let's be brightly shining lights (Matthew 5:14-16) and living letters (2 Corinthians 3:3), so that we can be proud of the movies that are made of our lives - even the ones we don't know about :-)

Technology addendum

I once drove past while they were doing maintenance on a redlight camera. The camera inside looks like a computer and had an ethernet cable. I assume it's possible for most of these traffic cameras to capture real-time footage rather than just snapshots.

Some of the iPhone "find me" apps allow remote-control taking of photos and recording. Many people routinely use the recorder app on their smartphone or devices like the Pulse pen to record audio as a quick way to capture a thought. Devices like Google Glass will shift this trend from audio to video, with the amount of amateur video footage available on our daily lives increasing exponentially. Tanks and flying drones with cameras (and night vision) are available at consumer stores now; kite aerial photography (KAP) just requires a kite and a GoPro camera.

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