In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. In French philosopher Michel Foucault's groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as a means for ever-finer mechanisms of control.
Years later, the available tools of scrutiny, supervision, and discipline are far more capable and insidious than Foucault dreamed, and yet less effective than Bentham hoped. Shopping malls, container ports, terrorist holding cells, and social networks all bristle with cameras, sensors, and trackers. But, crucially, they are also rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution.
In this talk authors Emily Horne -- a creator of the webcomic A Softer World -- and Tim Maly -- writer and Fellow at Harvard’s metaLAB -- discuss their new book The Inspection House, and paint a stark, vivid portrait of our contemporary surveillance state and its opponents.