The legal imagination

I have the right to remain silent (2017). Oil on canvas (35 x 25cm). Private Collection.I have the right to remain silent (2017). Oil on canvas by Albert Barqué-Duran.

Hypotheticals, fantastical beings, and a fictional omnibus: legal reasoning is made supple by its use of the imagination

Maksymilian Del Mar is a reader in legal theory at the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London. He is the co-editor of Legal Fictions in Theory and Practice (2015). He lives in London.

The legal world is wonderfully strange. Pull down a dusty volume of case law from a barrister’s bookshelf, and you’ll discover a parade of fantastical beings that could have been lifted from the pages of Jorge Luis Borges or Dr Seuss. In the law, constitutions behave like living trees, the island of Minorca is treated as a suburb of London, immobile houses suddenly zoom along beltways, Clapham omnibuses are packed with reasonable men, and spectral officious bystanders routinely spy on contractual negotiations. The legal realm is full of unlikely and improbable possibilities, as well as paths not taken, counterfactuals, mights, perhapses and maybes.

All of this draws on the faculty of the imagination. You’d be forgiven for thinking of a judge as someone who spends all day shoehorning ‘the facts’ into pre-fabricated principles, and laying down determinative rulings like geological strata. In fact, legal reasoning is a much more supple exercise. Individual judges must resolve knotty questions under conditions of uncertainty, and in a context in which there’s usually profound disagreement about both what has happened and what ought to be done about it. 

In these circumstances, imagination performs many salutary functions. Indeed, legal reasoning would be impossible without it. Imagination allows judges to explore what might be at stake in any particular dispute, and to provide a set of resources for future decision-makers. It lets them communicate doubt and express hesitation. And it brings the language of law alive, moving us and inviting us to imagine further – and so enables a thriving, interactive community of enquiry.

Of course, imagination also carries certain dangers. It might encourage bias, or signal a departure from common sense. But overall it should be celebrated – in law and, perhaps, in other domains where people must engage in the messy business of public reasoning.

Legal reasoning has at least four imaginative abilities at its disposal. The first is supposing: pretending that something is the case when you know or suspect that it’s not. Judges have been doing this sort of ‘as-if’ style of imagining for thousands of years. Courts in ancient Rome frequently used a mechanism known as fictio civitatis, the fiction of citizenship, which let authorities rule on the behaviour of ‘aliens’ as if they were Romans. As Gaius, a celebrated jurist in the second century CE, said:

If it appears that a golden cup has been stolen from Lucius Titius by Dio the son of Hermaeus or by his aid and counsel, on which account, if he were a Roman citizen, he would be bound to compound for the wrong as a thief.

Fictions are not just the preserve of the West. In 17th-century China, clans of villagers set up ‘companies’ that collected and distributed capital to their members, who were supposedly united by kinship with common ancestors. But as the legal scholar Teemu Ruskola at Emory University in Atlanta argues in Legal Orientalism (2013), ‘the idiom of the family was frequently only a legal fiction used to recruit members, many of whom were not even related by blood to the clan they joined’. Needless to say, this fiction often proved useful in raising revenue for the company.

However, I will focus on the common law – a tradition that comes from Britain, and in which the authority for a principle is settled through the slow accretion of case law and custom, rather than by setting out everything in statutes or codes. This mode of thought involves its fair share of judge-invented fictions. In the 18th-century case of Mostyn v Fabrigas, for example, a resident of Minorca – an island off the coast of Spain that was under British rule – claimed that he had been falsely imprisoned by the British government. To gain jurisdiction, the British court treated the territory as if it were a suburb of London.

Legal scholars usually dislike such judicial inventiveness. ‘[T]he pestilential breath of Fiction poisons the sense of every instrument it comes near,’ wrote the jurist and philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1776. He said that imagination had infected the law like syphilis, ‘begotten in the bed of metaphor’ – something of an irony, given his own turn of phrase. Bentham claimed that legal language would reflect the truth of affairs only if it were direct and free of ornament, and accused lawyers of deliberately mystifying the law so as to retain sole guardianship over its mysteries – and thereby enrich themselves…

mores…

https://aeon.co/essays/why-judges-and-lawyers-need-imagination-as-much-as-rationality

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No Masters, No Rulers – A World Without Statist Conditioning

by Gary ‘Z’ McGee, Staff Writer, Waking Times

“The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue.” ~Antisthenes

Raised, as most of us are, within nation states, it is extremely difficult to think outside the statist box. It’s tantamount to cognitive dissonance; Might as well ask a fish to breathe outside water, it’s so counterintuitive. But, and here’s the rub, we are not fish, and if we want to continue to be a progressively evolving species on this planet, we are going to have to think outside the box.

The thing is, it’s perfectly okay if “the box” is healthy, sustainable, and moral. But when it’s unhealthy, unsustainable, and immoral, like the statist box is, then it becomes imperative that we think outside of it. If we cannot do this, then we cowardly give in to indifference and ignorance, and we will be ruled by those who know how to gain power over indifference and ignorance. As Plato pointed out, “The price of apathy toward public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

In order to recondition our statist conditioning, we’re going to have to imagine a world without masters and rulers. No mastery except for self-mastery; no rulers except for self-rule. This seems counterintuitive to our statist conditioning, but it’s not. We simply need to be a little more imaginative about the ways in which we approach the ideas of leadership and rules. Leadership does not imply the need for masters, and rules do not imply the need for a ruler. We simply need a fresh perspective, preferably one that can see past statist driven propaganda. As Plotinus said, “We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing… a wakefulness that is the birthright of us all, though few put it to use.”

No Masters Does NOT Mean No Leaders

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

A good leader does not seek mastery over others but mastery over the self. It is through self-mastery that a leader leads by example. No masters means no seeking mastery over others (tyranny), and no bequeathing mastery over oneself to others (slavery). It does not mean no leadership. Rather, no masters implies leadership through self-mastery, without the master-slave dynamic muddying up the waters of liberty.

The problem with growing up thinking inside the statist box is that we are brain washed into thinking that the mastery of the state, with its hierarchical power constructs and vertical oligarchy, is leadership. We are conditioned to think that our obedience to the system (house slavery) is the price we pay to not be kicked out of the nation (house).

No masters means freedom. Not the pseudo-freedom espoused by the state, but real freedom. It means no slavery, whether soft or hard. It means the individual is free to discover his/her own self-mastery through the leadership of others and not through obsequious to others or the system. As Epictetus said, “No man is free, who is not master of himself.”

A good leader knows when to follow (obey) as well as when not to follow (disobey). A true leader will not blindly kowtow to the state, but wisely question it, knowing that the state is mostly made up of individuals who tend to seek mastery over others rather than self-mastery. It’s because of this tendency that most states dissolve into authoritarian regimes that rule by force (fear and violence) rather than leadership (honor and prestige). Lest we give into the inherent insanity of the state, we must remain self-empowered individuals seeking self-mastery through sound leadership rather than self-inured individuals blindly following the mastery of the system that keeps the state entrenched.

No Rulers Does NOT Mean No Rules

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” ~Plato

As it stands, we are a nation within which the majority of us do not engage in politics. Is it any wonder we are governed by orange-faced bigots and dumb and dumber bipartisanship? Ad hominem aside, the powers that be only have power when we the people agree that they have power.

The problem is that the majority of the people are not proactively engaged in politics and tend to be ignorant to the ways in which power works. This bodes well for those in power, for the entrenched masters and rulers, but not so well for those seeking self-mastery, self-rule, and freedom and justice for all. As Lord Byron once said, “Those who will not reason are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” Lest we allow ourselves to become bigots, fools, and slaves, we must be proactively engaged with our own freedom and aware of how the powers that be are working to keep us that way. “No masters, no rulers” is an extremely poignant phrase that keeps us circumspect and vigilant regarding our own freedom and liberty…

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About the Author

Gary ‘Z’ McGeea former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.

This article (No Masters, No Rulers – A World Without Statist Conditioning) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary ‘Z’ McGee and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/03/24/no-masters-no-rulers-world-without-statist-conditioning/

 

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Going underground

Resultado de imagem para Detail from the Russian poster for the 1957 Polish film Kanal, directed by Andrzej Wajda and set during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Photo by Getty

Detail from the Russian poster for the 1957 Polish film Kanal, directed by Andrzej Wajda and set during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Photo by Getty

Subterranean metaphors have been a powerful tool of political resistance. Today, is there anywhere left to hide?

Terence Renaudis a post-doctoral associate and lecturer in the Department of History at Yale University. His forthcoming book is called Restarting Socialism: The Era of Renewal on the European Left, 1930-1970.

In early 1942, a slim book appeared in London under the title Underground Europe Calling. Its author was the Austrian refugee Oscar Pollak. ‘Underground’, the introduction begins,

has become a catchword, handled by the tabloid press, flashed by the films. Imagination colours it with all the thrills of romance. In actual fact, underground work is quite different. It is terribly slow and wary. It is painstaking drudgery on the edge of prison and death. The catacombs are romantic only when you look down into them from the bright day above: inside they are dark, narrow and chilly – and very uncomfortable to live in. Yet their oppressive gloom holds the hope of future light.

Pollak was trying to pinpoint where the antifascist resistance was playing out across Europe during the Second World War. His vision combined physical areas under the earth – basements and bunkers and bolt-holes – with the secret social spaces that resisters occupied above ground. Pollak’s notion of insurgency blended the light of emancipation with the darkness of deceit, yielding a galvanising mythos of the ‘underground’.

In our own time, the idea of resistance has a renewed urgency and appeal. But we won’t be able to fight a fresh wave of authoritarianism without appreciating the symbols that animated the antifascist imagination of the past – in particular, the underground. That symbol has very deep roots in European and US culture, but over the course of the 20th century it was transformed from a threatening zone of subversion into a liberating space of political resistance. This shift of location and moral valence was partly a matter of necessity. Fascist regimes brutally suppressed public displays of defiance such as protest marches, critical publications and civil disobedience, so resistance was forced to retreat into the private sphere. Antifascists adopted aliases, worked cover jobs, communicated in code, and took covert photographs, all the while maintaining the appearance of ordinary lives.

These were more than just conspiratorial techniques. The resistance relied on an imaginative vocabulary that connected dissidents to one another via a network of subterranean passageways, snaking beneath the surface of everyday interactions. Being underground meant an ethics of spying, subversion, and subterfuge; of dissimulation and double-crossing; of cloak-and-dagger and conspiracy. Ironically this duplicity helped people see things for how they truly were. A buried world, hidden from the state, created forms of solidarity and self-understanding that shaped what was politically possible.

Is there anywhere left to hide today? Government surveillance, smartphones and social media have made our private lives increasingly public. The solipsistic cult of consumerism and convenience encourages us to spend away our cares, while alliances across social boundaries seem increasingly elusive. Where we’ve arrived charts just how far the idea of the underground has shifted in the public imagination, from a symbol of freedom to a hollowed-out token of postwar counterculture, buffeted by the tides of postmodernism and embraced, ambivalently, by 21st-century digital activists. The notion of the underground has come full circle, back to its origins as a space of conspiratorial activity that corrodes the public good. Joining an underground army is scarcely imaginable or desirable for most of us. And that’s a major problem for any would-be antifascists.

The concept of a subterranean realm dates as far back as Hades, the underworld of classical mythology. Homer describes how Odysseus journeyed to this land of death, a ‘shadowy hall’ in ‘the dark earth’. Later, Plato’s Republic featured a similar pattern of descent and redemption in the allegory of the cave – after which Dante, in The Inferno, swapped Hades for a Christian Hell, and Plato’s philosopher-king for the poet himself.

Modern visions of the underground diverged from their origins in the ancient and medieval worlds. The shock of industrialisation in the 19th century politicised the metaphor and made it more human, as people flocked to subterranean occupations such as coalmining and subway construction. The US critic Wendy Lesser calls this ‘technological downward progress’: activities where workers’ pride in broaching new telluric frontiers blended with the fear and fascination of ancient myth. ‘Old ideas which had been attached to fantastic tales now gained association with actual places one could touch and see,’ she wrote in The Life Below Ground (1987)…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/the-strange-political-history-of-the-underground

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Wikileaks’ Timely Reminder of our Digital Panopticon

“The Panopticon must not be understood as a dream building: it is the diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form.” – Michel Foucault

by Kit

the late eighteenth century English Utilitarian philosopher and social-theorist Jeremy Bentham devised what he called the “perfect prison” – The Panopticon. The design is simple, a circular prison with one guard in the central room, and all the cells facing the guard tower. In this way the gaoler can have a line of sight to every cell at once, and no inmate can ever be sure he’s not being observed. Bentham described it as:

…a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example…a mill for grinding rogues honest.”

Wikileaks latest release of classified documents, entitled Vault 7, comes as a timely reminder to all of us (as if we needed it) that the panopticonthe theorized perfect prison – is now a fibre-optic, digitized, hard-coded reality.

Here’s a run down from Wikileaks’ own analysis page (with some added emphasis):

The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation. With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

These early analyses show us the powerful trifecta of these operations – the CIA can hear you, find you and…if they deem it necessary…kill you. In fact, the reveal that the CIA has been working on hacking vehicle control systems adds new dimensions to the (as yet unsolved) case of Michael Hastings, a counter-culture voice in the American press who died in an inexplicable car accident four years ago. (A good rundown of the case can be found here.)

The repetition of a now well-established fact – that the CIA, NSA, DHS…whoever…can hack various electrical devices to listen in to our communications is nicely topical, given the current clash between the in-coming and out-going presidential administrations. An interesting thought is that Wikileaks, if it ever was as completely impartial and alternative as it purports to be, might be being used to score political points. The theorized split between the CIA (pro-Hillary) and the FBI (pro-Trump) works well as an explanation for this, as it did with the DNC and Podesta e-mail dumps prior to the elections. Either way, this information is nicely timed to remind the world that, as we already reported, of courseDonald Trump was being surveilled. Everyone is.

The final section we’ve highlighted, the proof that “…the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from” is an interesting tidbit of information. Worth remembering, because it will almost definitely have fallen down the memory hole next time some “evidence” is produced claiming Russia or China or Iran have hacked this, that or the other.

Further along in Wikileaks’ explanation of the data, and much discussed on CNN and in Congress (who seem rather unfazed by the illegal bugging and possible assassinations), is that the CIA’s arsenal of “cyber-weapons” were unsecured, and probably stolen by unknown parties.

Did state and/or non-state actors access and steal CIA created data-mining programs and spyware? I don’t think it matters. At all. The reasoning behind this is fairly simple. Firstly, there are no groups LESS trustworthy than the American military intelligence institutions. Secondly, and more importantly, I don’t believe it to be true…

more…

Wikileaks’ Timely Reminder of our Digital Panopticon

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DARPA Using Warfare Technology on Civilians for Mass Mind Control

by Paul A. Philips, Guest, Waking Times

Never mind the bombs and bullets or other conventional weaponry, consider the use of hi-tech stealth weapons. Not just for use in warfare, but for other nefarious purposes. A number of whistleblowers have come out of the woodwork to let us know that governmental agencies such as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) are using some of these hi-tech stealth weapons on unsuspecting civilians for mass mind control.

Through his research, such as that based on the startling revealing information he obtained from whistleblowers, author Dr Nick Begich explains the nature of the operations and hidden ulterior motives behind this rapidly developing mind control technology.

The mind control technology originates from the work of original scientists such as José Delgado and his EEG (electroencephalograph), bio-physics studies on subjects. The technology began with brain implants, which were later removed as it developed.

The current technology works by directing radio signals on targeted individuals to stimulate specific areas of their brain. These low-density subtle energies have the effects of causing disruption to the body’s physiological integrity, resulting in mood changes such as high anxiety. The directed radio signals may also be used to alter decision-making in order to manipulate a desired behavioral outcome.

Not just specific individuals, but according to Dr Begich, the technology has been known to psychoactively manipulate and overwhelm entire enemy armies during combat, causing them to surrender. However, the fact that this technology is used in the military is only because the soldiers are guinea pigs. .There is a bigger picture at work:

The government is also using agencies such as DARPA for applying this psychological warfare technology to covertly control and manipulate entire civilian populations.

It’s all part of the ruling elite’s technocratic agenda; total global domination with the use of technology. For instance, it’s no coincidence that DARPA has a strong allegiance with Google. Both have a number of same objectives involving the mind control and manipulation of society for forming a new hybrid social structure.

Further Developments

As the technology develops with other technologies, there are more options for the ruling elite over what they can do. Consider those technologies perceived by many members of the public as advantageous, but, unknown to them, have other nefarious purposes for controlling and manipulating society into a police state, mass surveillance, New World Order….

For example, a number of us know that there has been a strong push for implanting microchips for I.D and monitoring purposes. Take the case of implanting microchipped pills. There are advantages such as the ability to control doses and monitor patients remotely, but the implants could be used for other nefarious purposes.

Consider other examples having hidden nefarious purposes, such as the health- and mind-threatening ubiquitous Wi-Fi towers with their applications including computers, cell phones and forced ‘smart’ technology. Then there are mind controlling techniques involving the use of modulated signals to electronically manipulate the brain, via the mainstream media and social media for brainwashing and extreme propaganda.

Targeted Individual – also euphemistically known in the military as an ‘anomalous human potential’

Through the governmental agencies’ obsession with mass surveillance and data collecting, wanting to know your every move, using the technologies, you could be regarded as an enemy of the state if:

You have anti-corporatist views, knowing about corporate crimes and cover-ups…

You stand for the 2nd Amendment

You’re pro-Constitution

Actively against your treasonous, corrupt government

In other words if you’re found to be standing in the way of the ruling elite’s New World Order agenda then that could make you a targeted individual (anomalous human potential) for mind control to bring about your subjugation.

(Now wouldn’t that be quite ironic. DARPA using your own tax dollars to technologically manipulate your decision-making and behavior!)

A Turnaround

The ruling elite know that if the people ever made the shift from fear to love then their higher states of consciousness could be accessed to produce a turnaround for worldwide transformation. So in order to maintain the control system, the ruling elite have to keep the people in a constant state of fear by using such resources as their mind control technology.

However, the ruling elite are deeply concerned. As the global mass awakening continues to gather more and more momentum, they know that the future of their control system could be seriously under threat through an overwhelming number of awakened individuals taking back their rightful ownership of the world, where corrupt governments and their power structures would be redundant.

Instead of enslavement, what if the mind control technology could be altered and then used to free us? What about using the technology to make us happy, loving and peaceful?

Here is an eye-opening interview with Dr Begich to summarize:

About the Author

Paul A. Philips is the author of NewParadigm.ws.

This article (DARPA Using Warfare Technology on Civilians for Mass Mind Control) was originally created and published by NewParadigm.ws and is re-posted here with permission. 

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/03/06/darpa-using-warfare-technology-civilians-mass-mind-control/

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The new authoritarians

Resultado de imagem para A huge image of president Erdogan

image edited by Web Investigator

Last century’s dictators wanted to reinvent their subjects as ‘new men’. This century’s strongmen just don’t care. Why?

Holly Caseis associate professor of history at Cornell University and the author of Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during the Second World War(2009).

We might take the demonstrative demise of strongmen such as Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and – more recently and unobtrusively – Fidel Castro in Cuba to indicate that the day of the dictator has largely passed. Alas, authoritarianism is staging a comeback. Yet it is clear to poets and political scientists alike that the new authoritarians – Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan in Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary – are not like the old ones. In his recent poem ‘Some Advice for the New Government’, the poet Adam Zagajewski gave Poland’s newly elected cabinet some mock advice on how to be a new authoritarian:

All professors of constitutional law should be interned for life.
Poets can be left alone. No one reads them anyway.
You’ll need isolation camps, but gentle ones that won’t annoy the United Nations.
Most journalists should be sent to Madagascar.

These new strongmen seem milder, less openly brutal than the likes of Stalin or Hitler. In the words of the Austrian publicist and historian Hans Rauscher: ‘Brutal, naked mass violence against subjects is, at least in Europe and around Europe, no longer declared, insofar as Putins, Erdoğans, and Orbáns govern with the consent of a becalmed people, “freed” from all critical voices.’

But the difference goes well beyond their choice of whom to oppress and how. The autocrat of the mid-20th century was a strict and demanding father out to shape you into an ideal. He wanted you to modernise, learn self-discipline and, above all, self-sacrifice. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk addressed soldiers during the Entente attack on Ottoman-held Gallipoli in 1915, he told them: ‘I am not ordering you to fight. I am ordering you to die.’ ‘In the Soviet army,’ said Stalin, ‘it takes more courage to retreat than to advance.’

Tough love was thus the signature attribute of the 20th-century dictator. Even when he wasn’t demanding the ultimate sacrifice, he wanted you to lose a few pounds, mothball your fez, lay some more bricks, join a state-run youth organisation (or five), learn a new alphabet (or even a new language) and call it your own, memorise some poems, songs or passages penned by the supreme leader and call them ‘history’. Even democratic heads of state once had higher expectations of their citizenry. That line from John F Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech – ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’ – now sounds like an admonition from an earlier, distant century.

And dictators undeniably wielded more power to transform their subjects during that era of greater expectations. The titles applied to them made it clear who was in charge: Mussolini was called Il Duce, Hitler der Führer, and Stalin Vozhd (the leader), Atatürk was called Marshall and Ghazi (victorious), and paintings and statues offered idealised images of them all. Like a stern father, the dictator seemed to be everywhere at once: omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, an Ersatz-god if ever there was one. His image was on the wall of every government office and every schoolroom, statues and busts of him adorned desks, nooks and squares, and everything from streets to towns to schools were named after him.

Today’s authoritarians, by contrast, expect very little of their ‘children’. They do not seek to transform their subjects or mould them into an ideal. They might lightly admonish them to stop smoking and drinking (Erdoğan), or to have more kids (Orbán), but they won’t generally send them to camps or prisons, or even tell them flat-out what to do or what to think. To be sure, some things are forbidden: trying to form an alternative fiefdom, initiating a coup, betraying the inner circle, etc. Try one of these and you will quickly learn that old-school tyranny still has its safe spaces. But if you criticise the government, its policies, or the person of the leader (especially in a place – such as Twitter or the international media – where someone might actually read it), you’re more likely to be trolled and harassed by the new authoritarian’s (often subsidised) supporters than sent to the mines.

For the most part, today’s authoritarians are more like the fathers of our time who, instead of demanding that their children live up to a set of idealistic expectations, are likely to send a message in the vein of: ‘Don’t listen to what those bullies are saying about you! You’ve been misunderstood and pushed around for too long. I know the real you and will see to it that you don’t have to conform to their expectations.’ Daddy understands what Junior thinks and feels: namely slighted…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/the-new-dictators-speak-for-the-complainer-not-the-idealist

 

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AI-Powered Body Cams Give Cops The Power To Google Everything They See

PRIVACY
Photo Illustration: Vocativ

Taser has started its own in-house AI unit, laying the groundwork for police body cameras that record fully-searchable video evidence

Last week, Taser, the stun gun company that has recently become an industry leader in body-mounted cameras, announced the creation of its own in-house artificial intelligence division. The new unit will utilize the company’s acquisition of two AI-focused firms: Dextro, a New York-based computer vision startup, and Misfit, another computer vision company previously owned by the watch manufacturer Fossil. Taser says the newly formed division will develop AI-powered tech specifically aimed at law enforcement, using automation and machine learning algorithms to let cops search for people and objects in video footage captured by on-body camera systems.

Moreover, the move suggests that body-worn cameras, which are already being used by police departments in many major cities, could soon become powerful surveillance tools capable of identifying different objects, events, and people encountered by officers on the street — both retroactively and in real time.

The idea is to use machine learning algorithms to streamline the process of combing through and redacting hours of video footage captured by police body cameras. Dextro has trained algorithms to scan video footage for different types of objects, like guns or toilets, as well as recognize events, like a foot chase or traffic stop. The result of all this tagging and classifying is that police will be able use keywords to search through video footage just like they’d search for news articles on Google, allowing them to quickly redact footage and zoom in on the relevant elements. Taser predicts that in a year’s time, their automation technology will reduce the total amount of time needed to redact faces from one hour of video footage from eight to 1.5 hours.

Screen Shot 2017 02 15 at 1.14.40 PM

A Dextro demonstration shows real-time classification of people and objects in video

Taser
Searchable video will also have major implications for civilian privacy, especially since there are no federal laws preventing police from trawling through databases to track people en masse.

Taser has previously expressed interest in adding face recognition capabilities to its body camera systems. A Department of Justice study published last year also found that at least nine different body camera manufacturers either currently support face recognition in their products or have the ability to add it later. And according to a recent Georgetown University Law report, roughly half of all American adults have been entered into a law enforcement face recognition database, meaning there’s decent chance that any random person walking down the street can be identified and tracked in secret by a camera-equipped cop.

A Taser representative told Vocativ that while Dextro’s computer vision technology will allow Taser’s law enforcement customers to detect faces for the purpose of redacting them from videos, it does not currently support face recognition…

more…

http://www.vocativ.com/402771/ai-body-cams-cops-google/

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