If you think I’m a paranoid tight-ass when it comes to traffic cameras (and don’t miss Ben P. issuing me a cerebral beat-down in the comments) , you can only imagine how I feel about the privacy implications involved in Korea’s plan to build a high-tech utopia.
Imagine public recycling bins that use radio-frequency identification technology to credit recyclers every time they toss in a bottle; pressure-sensitive floors in the homes of older people that can detect the impact of a fall and immediately contact help; cellphones that store health records and can be used to pay for prescriptions.
These are among the services dreamed up by industrial-design students at California State University, Long Beach, for possible use in New Songdo City, a large “ubiquitous city” being built in South Korea.
A ubiquitous city is where all major information systems (residential, medical, business, governmental and the like) share data, and computers are built into the houses, streets and office buildings. New Songdo, located on a man-made island of nearly 1,500 acres off the Incheon coast about 40 miles from Seoul, is rising from the ground up as a U-city.
But seriously, to clarify my stance: I’m all for gadgets in instances like this, when they promise to make our lives easier. But when techno-wizzardry increases the chance of me getting a traffic citation, I’m all like “down with the autoritarian surveillance state, yo!”