The philosopher, the butterfly, and the police

I used to play with the idea of a detective story in which all of the victim’s character (and so destiny) emerged from a study of the traces they had left in databases — what they had read in the library, who they had called, and what they had looked up on the net. I thought of this as science fiction, but obviously it’s not. When you look at the justification that Gordon Brown gave for wanting almost unlimited dentention without trial, it had nothing to do with interrogating prisoners.

Mr Brown said when it took weeks to decipher computer codes, when a “multiplicity of internet email and telephone contacts needs to be investigated across national borders”, and video footage had to be viewed, “it was obvious to me that police investigations need more time”.

He wanted time for the police to interrogate databases.

Of course, if he had read a bit more science fiction, he would come on the idea of really low-tech criminals who don’t show up in anyone’s records — or even really high-tech ones who manage the same trick.

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One Response to The philosopher, the butterfly, and the police

  1. I had an image of a database being sexually humiliated by Lynndie England…

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