Big Brother is Watching. And Maybe That's a Good Thing: Race, Technology & The Future of Policing


Sounding the alarm about technology, policing, and privacy has become an almost daily occurrence. We are told that the government’s use of technology as a surveillance tool is an “insidious assault on our freedom.” That it is “nearly impossible to live today without generating thousands of records about what we watch, read, buy and do—and the government has access to them.” The message is clear: Big Brother is watching, and we should be afraid.  

But the police use of technology does not have to be dystopian. In fact, technology can be privacy and citizenship enhancing. To make this point, the first part of this Olio examines several areas of policing where the deployment of new technologies—from the use of simple smartphone applications like FaceTime and Google Hangout to the deployment of high tech surveillance cameras—can enhance the goals of transparency, accuracy, and legitimacy. 

The second part of this Olio makes a complementary argument: If we truly care about making policing egalitarian and fair to everyone, then that may mean embracing more technology and policing, not less. Indeed, harnessing technology, including surveillance technology, can help de-racialize policing. This turn to technology will not be cost-free. Indeed, one cost will be the redistribution of privacy. This cost, especially to those who already enjoy a surfeit of privacy, may seem great. But even greater should be the possibility that technology can move society closer to egalitarian, race-free policing, and to the goal of true equality before the law.   


Recommended reading from Penguin Press:

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter

“As if to prove his point, Adam Alter has written a truly addictive book about the rise of addiction. Irresistible is a fascinating and much needed exploration of one of the most troubling phenomena of modern times.” —Malcolm Gladwell




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Other upcoming Olios


Jun 19

The (Un)Enlightenment and What it Means to be Modern

Taught by Lev Moscow
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

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Jun 20

Believing is Seeing

Taught by Briana Toole
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

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Jun 22

OlioHouse | Breaking Bread: An Olio Salon Dinner

Taught by Brian Lewis
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Jun 23

Female Power and Desire in Shakespeare after #MeToo

Taught by Christina Katopodis
1 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

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Jun 25

The Artist in an Alternative World

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

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Jun 25

OlioTour | Federal Hall & African Burial Ground

Taught by Jamie Warren
6 p.m. at Federal Hall

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Jun 26

Jun 27

The Long History of Selfie Culture

Taught by Ted Barrow
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Jun 29

OlioHouse | Happiness & Hedonism Weekend

Taught by Skye Cleary
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Jul 7

Museum Trip | 'The 80s Show' Private Tour

Taught by Charles Riley
2 p.m. at Nassau County Museum of Art

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Jul 13

OlioHouse | The Power of Ego, The Stillness of Spirit

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Jul 25

Frida's Fragrance: Art, Scent, & Persona

Taught by Jessica Murphy
7:30 p.m. at The William Vale Hotel

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Sep 19

OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

Taught by Teresita Levy
10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

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