Thursday, September 29, 2011

Machine vision and our civil liberties

Two threads I keep returning to in this blog – I write it so I’ll decide what goes in to it – are the increasing use of vision for vehicle safety, and the way in which camera technology may be about to intrude on our personal freedoms.

Today I’m able to merge those two themes into one, by sending you to “Speed cameras out, Big Brother in?” on the website of “Engineering & Technology”. This article explores how various authorities want to slow down drivers who exceed posted speed limits, given that speed cameras, which spread like a nasty rash all over the UK, are now gradually being withdrawn.

A number of possibilities are suggested, and much of the discussion is about building on technologies already in place, such as lane departure warning and collision detection systems. (I suppose that should be detection of collision probability exceeding some threshold as it’s pretty easy to tell when a collision has happened.)

Now I’m all in favor of reducing traffic fatalities, but I am also a big fan of individual freedom, so I find myself on the fence on this issue. What I think is clear though is that we – by which I mean society – need much more of a debate about how far we are willing to have our activities captured by camera, and how we want those images used.

Rant over. I’ll get back to the techie stuff soon, I promise.

No comments: