Remote Scanning Technology
I don’t know if this is real or fantasy:
Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body — agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
The meta-point is less about this particular technology, and more about the arc of technological advancements in general. All sorts of remote surveillance technologies — facial recognition, remote fingerprint recognition, RFID/Bluetooth/cell phone tracking, license plate tracking — are becoming possible, cheaper, smaller, more reliable, etc. It’s wholesale surveillance, something I wrote about back in 2004.
We’re at a unique time in the history of surveillance: the cameras are everywhere, and we can still see them. Fifteen years ago, they weren’t everywhere. Fifteen years from now, they’ll be so small we won’t be able to see them. Similarly, all the debates we’ve had about national ID cards will become moot as soon as these surveillance technologies are able to recognize us without us even knowing it.