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Eye in the Sky

Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 06:00 PM

(Persistent Survelliance Systems)

Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he?

In 2004, when casualties in Iraq were rising due to roadside bombs, Ross McNutt and his team came up with an idea. With a small plane and a 44 mega-pixel camera, they figured out how to watch an entire city all at once, all day long. Whenever a bomb detonated, they could zoom onto that spot and then, because this eye in the sky had been there all along, they could scroll back in time and see - literally see - who planted it. After the war, Ross McNutt retired from the airforce, and brought this technology back home with him. Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Goldmark from the podcast “Note to Self” give us the low-down on Ross’s unique brand of persistent surveillance, from Juarez, Mexico to Dayton, Ohio. Then, once we realize what we can do, we wonder whether we should.

Special thanks to Dan Tucker and George Schulz.

More info:


Alex Goldmark and Manoush Zomorodi


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Comments [106]

Jeremy Thurman from Detroit, mi

It's happening on a global scale.

Apr. 20 2018 01:10 PM
Jay Stenger from Tampa, FL

There is currently a serial killer walking the streets of Tampa. So, let’s debate the 4th amendment.

Oct. 22 2017 03:21 PM
Mark from UT

This was a very interesting story on an emotionally charged issue. But the overwhelming editorializing was a huge distraction. I get that this is soft journalism and that feelings matter, but lines like, "the sound of those F-14s overhead just made me nauseous" don't help. Add in the jokes about the inventor's name and this ended up being a very irritating episode.

It becomes hard to sort out your position on an issue like this when you're distracted by such an obnoxious delivery. Regardless of how you feel about the topic it's never a good sign when all you can think about is how badly you'd like to tell the host (Manoush) to shut up. I guess that's why I'm here. So...


Oct. 14 2016 05:44 PM
Aron from Austin, TX

Did that woman at the end of the episode say George Orwell's book was called "1994"? Yikes.

Sep. 19 2016 05:47 PM
Erik Smith from Chicago

Fascinating episode, one thing I had an issue with is saying that the city of Baltimore was basically issuing a search warrant for the entire city. Why is this any different from closed circuit cameras?

Sep. 16 2016 12:54 PM

Certaintly fascinating, especially how the program began, but while listening to the podcast I couldn't help but think how outdated the technology is.

This is Argus, a drone capable of a billion pixel resolution that can feed real time video of a major city and is capable of 25+ simultaneous screens.

Not to mention by the time we're seeing this technology it is probably 5+ years advanced

Sep. 14 2016 07:52 AM
Peleg from Israel

Have I missed it or has the staff left the obvious song "Eye in the sky" out of the podcast?

Aug. 30 2016 07:06 AM
Cameron Cabrera

Jad said it perfectly the benefits are so concrete and your feelings are just that, feelings. If your son or daughter was kidnapped would you want them back in minutes or find them many years later in an abandoned mine. I'm sure you would have feelings of regret if you chose the latter. All for the sake of not being sad because you are a pixel.

Jun. 13 2016 12:11 PM
Conrad from SoCal

Hi Everyone, We have all been on the military surveillance eye in the sky for well over 20 years. They already know everything, and they have for a long time.

Apr. 11 2016 01:26 AM
Faith from Vienna, Austria

I am listening to this program and I keep on going back and forth between wanting to save lives, reduce crime and wanting my privacy. If you just skim through the Patriot act, we have given the federal government almost Orwellian powers of surveillance over our lives. Personally, I would be willing to give up my privacy if that meant the world would be safer, but the surveillance could only be used to fight crime. No third party or company trying to sell me stuff or blackmail me. As with any technology, in the wrong hands it can cause trouble.

Mar. 10 2016 09:02 AM
Clinton Sandvick from Eugene, Oregon

Obviously, I am pretty late to this discussion, but I wanted to challenge the notion that the information being collected is private. It's not. That doesn't diminish the concern that this system would help create a surveillance state - it does, but that doesn't make it private. Once you leave the sanctity of your home everything you do is public - not private. If you have a conservation with your lawyer in a public space and it can be overheard - the information arguably is not protected by attorney client because it's public. The eye in the sky only collects public information - think google maps. If the eye sky used invasive camera technology that could look directly into your house (such infrared camera) that would different. This is more like someone going through your garbage in dumpster on a street than listening to your private phone calls without a warrant.

I think the show got off track because it failed to acknowledge this fact. It would have actually been more interesting to have a discussion about the power of public information to reveal private facts. This type of technology has the power to do that, but it doesn't make the actual collection of that data private. It is no more private than having a Miami Herald reporter watch Donna Rice go into Gary Hart's home at night and come out in the morning. I think we can all agree that was essentially a public act.

Mar. 02 2016 04:46 PM

Late to the party here, but after listening to this episode and reading a lot of the comments here, I feel compelled to comment myself. Many people seem to be in the camp that the benefits of this technology outweigh the loss of privacy we would incur. I couldn't be more opposed to this viewpoint, and I won't say that it's because it gives me a 'weird feeling.' It's because of the U.S. Constitution, Amendment 4:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I think this clearly states that the government cannot collect data on U.S. citizens in bulk, obtaining no warrants showing probable cause, and then sift through that data later on to find what they need.

Would this technology help solve some crimes? Undeniably. But if you are an American citizen, please think long and hard before throwing a key civil liberty like the fourth amendment out of the window, especially in a time period where violations of this liberty are happening on a regular basis. These rights were put in place to protect us from our own human nature. Think not just now, but 300 years from now, when more advanced technology than this is being used against everyone, and not just to solve crimes. All because we gave the government the keys to the car, against the warnings of our own descendants.

Also, for those saying that only those with something to hide fear the loss of their privacy, please go ahead and install your toilet in your living room.

Feb. 18 2016 08:29 PM
Tom Leeds from Chicago

I have very strong feelings about this and I think it should be implemented by 2010!
DAMN IT! Why has this not been implemented yet!
If done correctly not only would it be the best crime deterrent ever but would easily save billions in police, investigations and court costs. It could save hundreds of lives and catch REAL criminals in the act in a way that can stop them and get them off the streets.
This can also be used incredibly effectively as an anti poaching tool to save endangered animals and stop the mass slaughter of elephants and rhinos.
This is a tool that can be implemented in so many ways. And HOW do you keep it safe? HOW do you keep it from invading your privacy? How do you keep it from interfering with your personal freedoms and civil rights?
This is a service provided by the third party that isn't watching, they are just maintaining the system to provide the service when needed. AND WHEN is the service needed? When the police get a call of a specific nature in a specific area at a specific time they can put in a request to get the footage of that specific place and time to be analyzed by the service looking for that specific activity. Very easy, very effective and in the long run very cheap.
SO WHY THE HELL are we not using this yet - are are we?
But I would like to see it used Africa in these huge game parks that are being watched over by a few people which is insane. Poachers could be identified before they strike, before they kill, before they wipe out another species.

Jan. 08 2016 12:16 AM
sannichka from SF

So here's what's going to happen: countries with no ethical values, such as Russia, will adopt the technology and will have the information on the countries with the ethical values who won't...adopt it. Sad

Dec. 07 2015 09:00 PM
Paul from Unmonitored city

Excellent. Add me the the list of the people feel the upside by far outweighs the downside.

Dec. 03 2015 09:17 PM
Jordan from Utah

This episode captures the true soul of Radiolab with the intriguing story, fascinating science, and controversial ethics. Thank you for producing this.

Dec. 02 2015 04:05 PM

This technology could save so many lives and defeat ISIS!

Nov. 22 2015 01:30 AM
Keith from Santa Cruz, CA

After reading of the Paris attacks this morning, I immediately thought of this episode of Radiolab. The only question I wonder is, how many attacks will occur between now and when the technology is adopted? I vote zero. I truly do not understand the argument against thugs surveillance system, and like many of the other commenters, I wish it had been explained a bit more

Nov. 14 2015 10:33 AM
S from PNW

Very interesting to listen to this program today, I finished this moments before I heard about the situation in Paris. Just thinking about how this could be applied to this situation and how it could help people in a hostage situation.

Nov. 13 2015 06:40 PM
Brux from Palo Alto, CA

Ouch, very hard to listen to people who can balance thousands of lives on the one side and some immeasurable gut feeling on the other and not be able to care about those who might be deterred or the murderers such as in Juarez just to save some kind of privacy concern that they cannot talk about and probably do not even have anyway.

Honestly it makes me wonder what is really is that people are thinking or reasoning to not want to at least have a beta test of this technology. Do people somehow want to be able to reserve the right to commit a crime and feel they might be losing something in that way?

This is one I really would not be worried about ... but maybe I am just not paranoiac enough. I just picture that poor police officer in Mexico who was assassinated ... that is a direct and all out assault on civilization, and whatever the cost we or they simply cannot have that.

Nov. 13 2015 02:01 AM
Cullen from USA

I noticed that there was a lot of bias in this report that was against persistent surveillance. It should be the job of a reporter or a journalist to be as unbias as possible. The fact that radiolab broadcasted only people calling in about concerns for their privacy shows their incredibly overeaching bias. Also, 25% is more that just a tiny bit greater that 15%. Thats 1.67 times more people.

Also, I'm not sure the a "bad gut feeling" is srtrong enough to make an argument against survaillance. There is no objectivity in that statement. How can one argue fairly against objective statistics and results with subjective evidence. To me it seems pretty clear that it is a lack of education. Maybe the people who are against it aren't just against it because they like their privacy, they probably just read 1984 and are against anything "big brother" related. They don't even care about the facts they are just fals idealists. Its like somebody voting for a party and knowing nothing about the candidates but only voting that way because they decided 20 years ago that they may probably be a republican because they're parents were. Absolutely ridiculous and obsurd.

Please somebody make a legitiment argument against persistent survaillance. Because right now I havent found any. They arent looking at people who arent commiting a crime. So unless you are a criminal you should be psyched about it because you know if somebody steals your car you will probably get it back. If you use google chrome and think that persistent survaillance is huge invasion of privacy then you are an ignorant hypocrit.

Oct. 29 2015 12:43 PM
Jason from Australia

I foresee an evolutionary arms race.
Criminals will develop camouflaged vehicles and possibly clothing that masks their position. Criminals will just get smarter. That's evolution. The ones who cannot outplay the system will get locked up. The ones that can will continue to cause harm and will spread their "resistant" technology.

Oct. 11 2015 09:05 PM
Interesting Watch

Oct. 10 2015 06:59 PM

I think Manoush is off her nut. Her chief objection to this program is that it gives her a bad feeling in her gut. Then goes on to stand firmly against this sort of monitoring. I wonder what would happen to the feeling in her gut if her son was abducted. Would her gut then be in favor of using the "eye in the sky" to return her son at the expense of a landlord discovering that there are three tenants staying at his property instead of two?

Sep. 29 2015 08:54 PM
Patrick from Indianapolis

This is a fantastic idea. Those worried about "why" crime happens, you can come up with that technology.

And criminals commit crime primarily because they think they'll get away with it. Take that aspect away, what do you have?

News flash folks, you aren't free to the degree you think. Your searches, your phones, your bank statements are all being tracked to the nth degree. So now we want to do this with crime and your answer is to abstain? Really?

I challenge any naysayer to the following task: Go ask a mother of a kidnapped child if she would have preferred to have her daughter alive instead of dead. Go ask the owner of the vehicle that just got stolen with a baby in the back if they want someone to get it back ASAP. Then, after they respond, give your two cents, see what happens.

Society is moving on. Come onboard, we'd love to have you.

Sep. 13 2015 11:31 AM
Doug Lim from Chicago, IL

I have a problem with (I think) Ross of Persistent Surveillance Systems boiling the argument down to it being a trade-off between security and privacy and that "you are a lot less free when you can't leave your house at night". At best, this is hyperbole; at worst, it's irrelevant. Obviously, crime is bad, but there very few instances of crime where people are actually prevented from leaving their house at night.

Sep. 08 2015 11:05 AM
Chris from UK

Doesn't this just mean all crimes will take place when it's foggy, or do you not have weather in the USA?

Sep. 02 2015 07:56 AM
donald from California

The problem with these surveillance technologies is that while they answer the questions who, what, when, how and where, they direct attention away from the question why?

Violent crime in the United States has been on the decline since the early 90s making the comparison with the war in Iraq especially deceptive.

Mass surveillance may lead to solving crimes, but what will it tell us about "crime"? And why aren't we as anxious to understand the origins of crime and appropriateness of punishment as we are with solving individual crimes with mass surveillance?

Defining problems by whether they lend themselves to a particular technological solution engenders unexamined assumptions, closes off political debate about and the search for the origin of social problems, and leads us to ignore other dilemmas that can't be solved by this technology or that are more complex and intractable, and may actually lie at the origin of the purported problem.

Aug. 28 2015 05:44 PM
Chris Rock from Berlin, Germany

The negative aspects of persistent surveillance are not abstract. What about the Stasi? Totalitarianism didn't come from fiction. Orwell got his ideas from the terrible reality of many countries in the 20th century from which the world is still recovering.

Furthermore, the historical threat of surveillance is not foreign to the US. Why was there no mention of J. Edgar Hoover? What of his recorded threats, blackmails, and potentially even assassinations? All in the name of fighting terrorism. Exactly the same justification given by the US government today.

But that hasn't happened in the US for decades, right? Since the fear induced by 9/11, surveillance and policing restrictions have loosened considerably and we see abuse as a direct result. Maybe you haven't heard of LOVEINT, when NSA facilities were used to spy on former lovers, or this report from On the Media:

Not to mention decades of racial abuse and police militarization and brutality which should leave no one with a the faith that information will be handled benevolently.

The benefits of intrusive systems are real factors to be considered, and RadioLab does an incredible job, but I would expect the real and obviously concrete costs of persistent surveillance to be necessary content for this episode.

I am a software engineer, American citizen, and a passionate privacy advocate living in Berlin, Germany, where privacy issues are taken much more seriously for understandable historical reasons (which do not prevent the NSA from spying on Germans). The biggest problem with the debate on exactly the topic you raised in this episode is ignorance of the past, present, and future dangers of surveillance. It's unfortunate that this episode did not enrich the debate by calling attention to them.

I suggest Frontline's United States of Secrets. It conveys the abusive attitude of surveillance agencies and the unjust treatment of anyone who would attempt to legally fight them, including individuals working for the NSA. It highlights, I think, the kind of Pandora's box you open when you welcome surveillance and how difficult it is to close it.

Aug. 27 2015 07:25 AM

Manoush thinks it is nobler to assume that the inhabitants of Juarez would be insulted to have an eye in the sky: but what does this assume about the inhabitants? That perhaps they PREFER to live under the thumb of the cartels? There is a time and place that screams for this type of technology. When the situation is desperate and there is no rule of law, this type of technology can do a huge amount of good.

Aug. 10 2015 10:54 AM
Henry Fonda from DC

Below are some of the reasons manned aircraft are preferable to UAVs for this type of mission.

Cost - They fly manned aircraft because they are much less expensive - DHS paid $15M each for their Predators and spends nearly $6,000 per hour to fly them. The popular small UAVs can not lift anything more then a small camera that can look at a single house or maybe a few for a short period of time. Manned aircraft that can lift "a ton" and stay up for 9 hours are available for less then $200,000. Manned aircraft can be rented and flown for less then $200 per hour. Manned aircraft are just much more affordable for this type of mission.

Accessible Locations - Manned aircraft can fly just about anywhere - UAV's are limited to a remote areas where their are few people and fewer crimes. UAV's are specifically not allowed near major commercial airports that are typically near every major city. Requesting permission to fly could take months for approval if it ever came.

Pilots are cheap and very available - The cost of a young pilot building flight time is less then $25,000 per year as they try to build time to fly traditional airliners. They now need 1500 hours to get their Airline Transport Pilots license and that would cost them at least $150,000 at even lowest aircraft rental rates. Flying these surveillance missions helps them and they would likely pay to do it. Also having a pilot to handle inflight emergencies helps make manned aircraft much more reliable then unmanned aircraft. Would you want to fly on a UAV commercial airliner?

Last is insurance. Insurance for private airplanes runs $5,000 per year. It is a well understood risk. UAVs crash 15-20 times as often as manned aircraft and often in uncontrolled ways. Insurance for a UAV over a major city would be very very expensive and is currently unobtainable at nearly any price. If a UAV crashes and kills or even hurts someone on the ground the lawsuit and resulting judgement would end any company.

Just a few reasons why Manned aircraft are preferable to unmanned aircraft for this type of mission.

Jul. 31 2015 12:11 AM
Henry Fonda from DC

You asked how many criminals in San Fransisco?

From Neighborhood Scout website

San Francisco Annual Crime on a scale of 1 to 100 San Fransisco rates a 3.

"With a crime rate of 68 per one thousand residents, San Francisco has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes - from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One's chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 15. Within California, more than 98% of the communities have a lower crime rate than San Francisco."

7,232 49,438 56,670

Murders 48
Rape 231
Robbery 4,278
Assault 2,675
Burglary 6,030
Theft 37,503
Motor Vehicle Theft 5,905

Or roughly 155 crimes per day. ~14% of property crimes are ever solved and those are the inexperienced criminals who get caught.

That is just San Fransisco and does not include Oakland (33,880 crimes per year) or other great locations in the area.

Jul. 30 2015 11:40 PM
Michael Rasmussen from Portland, Oregon

Criminals will adapt to the new conditions. Doing a drive by shooting gets you followed home? Fine, do it in a mall or other enclosed place; steal the car to do the crime; put gaps into the driving.

The potential harms pointed out by other commentators from police (and other) abusers will remain with us forever. This is an incredibly bad idea.

Jul. 29 2015 01:45 PM

Great podcast. Wonderful job to everyone involved.
Regarding the part about the ethics. I appreciate that Zomorodi was able to point out the her privilege in her position, something that Goldmark failed to do. It may be a completely different conversation for a different show, but maybe something that Zomorodi was trying to get at and Goldmark was completely inconsiderate of is the socioeconomic and racial considerations.
It's very easy for a white man, with a good job, at the apex of privilege to say this technology is a great idea. When cities can't even control corruption, police abuse, and income disparity, what makes anyone think this is a great idea? How about at least mentioning and giving a little consideration to the bigger issues behind the types of crime and the people committing those crimes that this technology will focus on. There is still racism, and a legacy of colonialism, slavery, etc. to deal with. The victims of these forces and their ancestors still feel the affects and are most at risk for being poor and desperate. That sometimes leads to crime. It wasn't hard work alone that prevented me from becoming a criminal. I have light skin, blue eyes, and luck, shear luck.
I think we should level the playing field, first by putting the criminal bankers, business people, and politicians in jail. Then take all the money out of politics and reform big business. Then if that doesn't reduce crime maybe we could look at a police surveillance state.
For now, how about putting that surveillance in the government and all the big corporations?
And Grace, this is good journalism. It's good to have conversations that have opinions. This is not your 6 o'clock news. When did people stop wanting to hear deep considerate conversations about the world?

Jul. 19 2015 06:04 PM
Ian from Princeton

Why keep it on a manually controlled plane? Why not a drone? This is actually a serious question. Everything I read is around it being a manual flying plane.

Jul. 19 2015 05:47 AM
Allan McNautt from California

Any technology such as this, that would be controlled by the "Government" can be used for bad just as it can do good, as described here.

This sort of surveillance will redefine our freedom, if allowed to be implemented over ANY city in the U.S. Great for a war zone, not so great for a our own back yard.

What's next? Well, we can see what you're doing, but we can't HEAR you! So we'll need to deploy a system of audio capture devices, so we can tie the images together with some audio... Ahhh, now we can control the masses...

This is the stuff of "V for Vendetta"! Where does it end?

Trust not, The government! Power corrupts, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Be afraid, very afraid...

Jul. 16 2015 10:45 PM
Eric Graf from Minneapolis, MN

As someone who has been victimized in the past, I don't see anything wrong with this level of surveillance. We willing carry cell phones with us everywhere we go. Our movements can be tracked with them We probably have our images taken hundreds of times a day by surveillance cameras in buildings and on the street. There has been a quiet revolution going on with surveillance over the past 20 years. I can't believe people are only becoming aware of it now. It is hard to fathom that there are those among us that willing accept an increased crime and murder rate as the cost of privacy.

Jul. 16 2015 04:24 PM

I think the way this was framed was just wrong. What was said, but not really noted, is that this is a private company with this technology. I have no idea why we wouldn't want to use this technology to solve crime. However, it's obvious that this technology could be used in ways that are not as useful or even harmful or intrusions in privacy. So the real question is not whether we want to use it to catch murderers and rapists (YES!), but how do we regulate the technology so it's not misused? Given that this technology is already out there in the private sector and can already currently be used by anyone with enough money, that is the real issue: If and how we regulate it. It seems a no brainer to use it to find serious criminals. But what about the person who took fruit off a neighbors tree? Or employers checking in on employees? Or boyfriends trailing girlfriends? Or parents trailing kids? Those are the real issues that sound like they need to be adressed, and soon, since the techonology is already publicly available.

Jul. 13 2015 09:35 PM
RugDog from Harrisburg, PA

This is horrible. Better a few victims than ALL OF US victims.

Jul. 11 2015 07:49 PM
Frank from Seattle

Once again, we are offered a technological solution as a panacea to all of our problems.

The technology is, indeed, impressive, but shouldn't effectiveness be a key decision factor when considering employing these "change detection" systems?

In the case of Angel Fire, Constant Hawk, and similar programs used to solve the IED problem, the actual results were that they did not have a detectable effect.

Why should we expect a different outcome when these tools are used for civilian law enforcement?

Jul. 11 2015 10:59 AM
Dave from Cincinnati Ohio

I see it as a great tool in fighting crime. I do believe what it's used for should have very heavily Regulated.
But, Those that fear it would be used against us should consider, based on what we have already seen our government do in our live time, post 9-11 especially, they are going what they want anyway.
If they want to watch us they will. Without telling us, and only inform us when they get caught.
They are probably doing it already and there's not much we can do about it.

I don't like being considered a conspiracy theorists but, I guess I am.

Jul. 11 2015 10:27 AM

This would have been a great story without your dumping a
gratuitous shitload of facile, reflexive, self-indulgent
moralizing all over it. Stick to journalism.

Jul. 10 2015 03:04 PM

This would have been a great story without your dumping a
gratuitous shitload of facile, reflexive, self-indulgent
moralizing all over it. Stick to journalism.

Jul. 10 2015 03:03 PM
larry fast from vancouver canada

Who watches the watchmen? Good program but it only talked about the fears and benefits. What about appropriate monitoring and governance? We're too accepting and climatized to systems like this being run from behind closed doors. EVERY system like this needs internal monitoring of who has access to the information and what are they doing with it. Then it needs publicly accessible external review information. IMO the fear comes from the potential for this data and the process to go under cover. The answer? Make sure it all stays public. Not the data itself but all actions taken based on the data. Secrecy is the real enemy.

Jul. 10 2015 11:44 AM
Jessica from Mid-Michigan

I found both this podcast and the complementary Note to Self show to be fascinating and though-provoking. At the same time, I feel like Radiolab has lost all credibility on issues of privacy since airing "The Living Room."

Jul. 09 2015 12:47 PM
Silas buehrig from Dayton, OH.

I live in dayton and I was robbed just a few months ago. It made me sad and angry that they didn't approve of the planes. People need to get educated.

Jul. 09 2015 01:42 AM
Seamus James from San Francisco

I was just looking at murder stats for San Francisco. In the last 4 years, there have been about 320 murders. Of those, only about half the time a suspect was caught.

That means that right now, in ONLY San Francisco, there are about 160 murderers -- people who have killed someone in cold blood -- still. walking. free.

You have to think that with a system like this, the rate of capture would rise dramatically, and that, I think, is a very valid reason to have a system like this in our country.

How many rapists? How many armed robbers? How many violent, dangerous criminals -- I'm not talking non-violent drug offenders -- could we catch? And let's be clear, this isn't looking beyond what anyone could already see if they were in the right place at the right time.

As someone who lives in a rough neighborhood, I'm all for it.

Jul. 07 2015 12:38 AM
Vsss from US

The thing is that people should remember is that, the technology is already out there in some sense. So who knows who else already got access to it and is messing around with it right now. Maybe not direct access to it, but documents of it is usually enough. And if not now. Likely will, in the future.

I don't mean that all in an extreme alarming state. But instead a thing to remember for your discussion / thoughts of should this OR should this not even be used. Because it already has been used.

Jul. 06 2015 07:14 PM
Martin Fowler from Boston

One of the comments in the show was how the benefits of this technology were made concrete (solving a crime) but the downsides were abstract (loss of privacy). I agree that this contrast is a problem, so I like to address it by putting forward concrete cases where surveillance technology can be abused. The two main examples I give are investigative journalists and activists for social change. Both of these can be stifled by mass surveillance, not just of them, but of their friends and family. When thinking about surveillance technologies, we need to be aware of these risks, and address them. Otherwise we are in danger of severely reducing our freedoms.

I talk about this more at

Jul. 06 2015 12:27 PM
joe hall from Colorado

No it's not a knee jerk reaction to object to this based on years of what has happened to all of us by our corporations and our gov't. First and foremost the excuse of "we need this to catch terrorists" is untrue. IF and only if our gov't only used it for terrorism but they don't they sell the technology to our over bearing police who as we know are allowed and encouraged to violate our privacy laws at all costs. The $7 trillion dollar hole in the Utah desert proves this. All technology now is first and always used to betray us in every way imaginable. Every app betrays us plus a half dozen invisible companies who track us per app. NO app needs to have access to my camera, micro phone, pics etc..
This like it's narrow minded inventor pretend it's for good but the big money always comes from betrayal and he has already gone along.

Jul. 05 2015 04:07 PM

I think the automatic knee jerk reactions should be tempered. I don't know if this is good or bad. When I was a young man we were never searched at airports, music events or for any reason in the ordinary course of events. It's just common theses days and most of you don't complain the least. In high crime areas, this technology may be a good thing if it makes criminals accountable. IT may also be subject to abuse if used improperly. Why not figure out what would work rather than automatically becoming upset about this "privacy" that most of you have let slip through your fingers without a word for the past 30 years.

Jul. 04 2015 05:56 PM
Elizabeth Goodwin from Oakland, Ca

As an activist that attends street demonstrations, (that historically have pushed the margins of social progress to the center of public debate), this terrifies me. You should see the highly militarized police gear already in use in big cities like Oakland. A peaceful march of black women and children calling for dignity were recently assaulted by police with concussion grenades and batons for violating a new "no night time demonstrations" curfew. This technology will horribly exacerbate what is already a dire situation. I wish jad and robert had explored a bit more what Orwellian really means in our current context.

Jul. 02 2015 11:14 PM

While the information in this program was interesting, good lord I can't stand the way it was presented. The entire segment was so overedited. Just present the information without chatting like three uninformed lay people the whole time, and there's no need for all the song bumps, sound effects, and jump cuts from one person to another. I can't even tell how many people are on this program. It sounds like dozens of people get the chance to talk at one point.

"Technology, weird right??? Yeah! Ha ha! Hey, this guy's name is McNutt! More like McButt amirite??? Oh and by the way this technology was used to take down a drug cartel. Whoa!"

Is this meant to be taken seriously? Is the entire topic a joke, or are these journalists just choosing to treat it like one? Sorry if I don't feel like listening to four preteens try to explain the implications of military grade surveillance technology on law enforcement. Embarrassing.

Jul. 02 2015 04:32 PM

We carry around little devices that track our lives. Track where we are going and where we have been. Yet, we willingly carry around smart phones and they are so much worse than this technology. We just feed it with details about our lives. Google searches. Back information. Photographs. This shows you as a tiny dot. If a loved one was murdered you would be wishing for something like this.

Jul. 02 2015 09:54 AM

We already have monitoring videos, automated license plate readers, automated toll passes (E470 in Colorado), street cameras, ATM's, news media. All law enforcement has to do is get a search warrant in order to access the information for an investigation - think Oklahoma City bombing or the Boston Marathon bombing.

As a result, I see nothing wrong with the use of the technology since a court order could be used to add a layer of bureaucracy to access the information. Like nearly every good idea that has the potential for thwarting crime and criminals, there will always exist the potential for misuse - and that is what the courts are for.

I say, save lives, dismantle criminal organizations, solve homicides, and then let the suspects challenge the criminal justice system for catching them committing crimes. As to those who think law enforcement and other public safety professionals are merely looking for any excuse to spy on you, I have to ask, "what are you doing in the dark that you would not want the world to see in the daylight?"

My $0.02

Jul. 01 2015 06:11 PM
Andrew from Istanbul

In response to Levi Wallach and Jad's concerns around 13:20 of having clear advantages but abstract disadvantages, I'm reminded of the concerns with how the medical industry functions in the States.

New and amazing medicines often treat symptoms, but often forgo the underlying issues. For example, you may take some sort of pain relief medicine for your back pain but the chronic issue of posture or something else may be ignored.

These "eye in the sky" monitoring systems may in fact catch or prevent many crimes from going on but will it prevent us from seeing underlying issues? - quality of schools, mismanagement of city's resources, divided communities, etc.

McNut mentioned that using this technology doesn't prevent police from making community with the citizens, but if Americans' general relationship to pharmacies gives any perspective, in the long run, we may choose to take the pain relief pill and keep on provoking the underlying pain.

Jul. 01 2015 03:44 PM
Costi from Belgium

What about calling a referendum or similar?

Jun. 30 2015 02:23 PM

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."


Jun. 29 2015 01:10 AM
Ellen from Baton Rouge, LA

I am so tired of American knee-jerk antigovernment paranoia. This is not about privacy, because your movements in public places are not private. This is not spying into your windows or listening in on your private phone conversations or reading your private email, Communications. It makes me really angry to see such an obvious solution to huge problems being rejected out of ignorant and baseless fear. I think Americans have lost touch with the idea of public life and public space, clinging to the idea that everything should be private and individual.

Jun. 28 2015 01:09 PM

I fail to see how this is any different than the cameras on bank technology or other security cameras, whose images are presented at the will of the owners. These cameras do show our faces and are extremely detailed. The laws and licensing governing this technology must come first. The voices that were missing from this report were those who have no freedom,living in environments governed by gangs and organized crime.

Jun. 28 2015 10:35 AM
Faisal Alawadhi from Kuwait

There was an attack on a mosque in Kuwait yesterday. An ISIS man strapped with explosives entered the mosque during the Friday prayer and killed 27 worshippers and injured 200.

The terrorist was dropped by a car that fled the scene as soon as he blew up. As of this time, they haven't found the driver of the car nor the ISIS nest. But I wonder, if we had 'eye in the sky' what progress would we have done?

Therefor, I'm a convert. I am for security over privacy. It is a sad day for Kuwait, and a sad day for those of us who value their privacy. It is a different world now, bring it on.

Jun. 27 2015 08:24 PM
SupporterOfSurveilance from Wherever illuminati is

I'm serious, someone please answer... why didn't they do of this before... It's literally just an interval system rigged to a camera, and the camera attached to a plane. I could make that with a useless box and some duct tape! My theory... They have been using it, they just haven't told us.

Jun. 26 2015 02:40 PM
RF Engineer from Illinois

Coming from the military background the system is only half complete. Civilian systems must include a way to detect misuse so that consequences can be befall the abuser. Our free society which we defend by paying for our military and their training, assumes everyone if fallible and no one is above the law. No tool is complete without supporting that. People raise their voices not necessarily because they are wrong and problematic. Sometimes it is because we are not listening.

Jun. 26 2015 12:23 PM

I agree with Margaret Root. This technology might be useful in the fight against poaching.

Jun. 25 2015 08:54 PM
John from Arizona

I find it hard to believe that resistance to this technology appears to be the dominant response. Clearly this technology has much to offer and to be against it for fear of potential abuses, is absurd to me. How does anyone know that this tech is not already being used covertly ? I would rather use it and regulate it and be aware of it, than not to and behave like an Ostrich with its head in the sand. Knowledge of this kind of tech is a "real" deterrent to committing crimes, as opposed to arguments about the death penalty or minimal fear of getting caught. Failing to embrace this kind of tech for hypothetical reasons is to elevate the status of hypochondriacs to the ruling class, which I disdain Mr. Krulwich.

Jun. 25 2015 02:56 PM
Rburos from Arizona

Jun. 25 2015 01:27 PM
Karl from Perth, Aus

Americans seem to have this weird fear of government that I'll never understand. This is much less invasive than the almost ubiquitous CCTV coverage, but it's so scary because the government is in control of it? Let's see how much you care when it's your house broken into or your child kidnapped.

Jun. 25 2015 08:30 AM
Katie Beyers from Johannesburg

Worrying about being "seen" seems like first-world ungratefulness. In South Africa where I live, we often feel like nobody would bat an eye if we were to get shot on the street. People get raped and murdered every day and criminals are seldom caught. The feeling that nobody's watching or cares is also terrible.

Jun. 25 2015 07:13 AM

A new low. I fondly recall those early, science based podcasts about time, and sleep, and the placebo effect. Seems a long time ago. Get back to your roots. Hire some new people, clever scientists who are curious about the patient process of reflection and then designing controlled experiments that discover the details of reality.

Jun. 24 2015 12:41 PM
Brian from Lansdale pa

I understand the focus on privacy, still I expect a bit more spectrum analysis from intelligent journalism.

One point I found particularly missing was the potential implementation of third party activation for each access of eye in the sky technology. Perhaps a fast court order process or real time citizen poll approval could unlock data on a case by case basis.

Technology permits improved accountability measures alongside improved performance in many areas, not just video surveillance.

Jun. 24 2015 07:48 AM

Wow, that was some painfully one sided reported. If you want to play the emotional card about I don't like how this feels (F16's over New York after 9/11...?) then interview someone who's had a child kidnapped or a brother murdered and ask how much they value the information your discussing. But playing numbers verse emotion is clearly a loaded strategy not to discuss the balance of rights that should be talked about: do we all lose some small rights to gain something - safety. And what does this mean when I'm already safe but I don't want to curb my rights so you can be safe.

Stop being the screaming minority and start being the people talking about this in a grown up way. The least you could do would ask if home insurance would drop in Dayton with a drop in crime rate.

Jun. 23 2015 06:33 PM

Countries like Mexico can greatly benefit from this type surveillance which can help the country fight against drug cartel and crime. It's not like we've stumbled across technology that exposed everyone's information to public domain. Technology is inevitable, it's how we wield it.

Jun. 23 2015 05:54 PM
Charles Spencer from Boston

The reporters on this story were clearly biased, and based their thoughts on feelings as opposed to thoughts, and secondly if these two reporters want to be taken seriously, drop the disfluency, "like" from the reporting, let alone every day speech. Interesting topic, terrible reporting. It is sad that professional reporting has come to this. The show is recorded before it airs, is it not? Yes, please don't air something again that sounds as if a bunch of teenagers made it.

Jun. 23 2015 05:53 PM
A from Wisconsin from wisconsin

I think many of the people who find the idea of this type of surveillance creepy don't think twice about the information the grocery store gathers on you when you use your little discount tag, or what the credit card company knows about you, or Google, or facebook! Ever note that when you go to a web page with advertising they seem to know where you have shopped? Why do you trust companies with NO oversight over your local police? If you do not find the surveillance by companies makes you queasy but surveillance by the government does, maybe you should take a pause. But wait, the companies just want your money, and the government wants....what?
I agree with others that I used to love radiolab because you presented interesting science questions from all angles and with a open mind. Now I find that, too often, "feelings" are replacing data and fact. Manoush recognizes that she is speaking from privilege, but doesn't let that affect her bias. Maybe she should have felt queasy when she heard the planes or helicopters over NY after 911 because they could have been another attack, or rather felt relief because someone was trying to prevent another attack. I used to donate but won't until I find stories I am excited to hear.

Jun. 23 2015 04:34 PM
Shervin from Toronto, Ontario

I am flabbergasted at the point of view of people like Manoush Zomorodi. I love how at Radio Lab you always show a certain level of neutrality by bringing in every opposing voice of argument, while going the extra mile to gather as much evidence as is available so that your audience can make up their own mind. The only evidence that was brought into this episode however was to show how the ignorance of a small group of people, namely Manoush Zomorodi stops the government or, in the case of Dayton, a community to make life saving decisions. How is a birds eye view different from a group of neighborhood watch? If we could empower neighborhood watch to communicate the movement of a suspect with each other and if we could rely on their memory to remember the location of the same suspect in the previous days, that would essentially be similar to having an Eye in the Sky. Manoush Zomorodi heard and saw the power of using this technology in Iraq to save lives, she saw the use of it in simply saving someone's belonging from a thief, and yet none of that was convincing to her. Even though she claims her point of view changed after how an entire drug cartel could be brought down using this technology, she still didn't have a logical answer to the amber alert question, and apprehensively agreed with Alex's simplified version of her passive idea, all the time bringing in "nausea", and "sick in stomach" as points of an argument. Does she know what a "sick feeling in stomach" it is to lose people because of attacks on the street or kidnapping? Of course it is a "privileged" position to say we shouldn't have it while in Ontario alone there is a missing child reported every hour (41000 reports of missing children in 2014). At least bring someone who has some degree of reasoning behind their point of view. Comments like "nauseating" would only ignite a momentarily emotional impact without any further logical explanation. I don't expect this from a science and evidence based program like Radio Lab.

Jun. 23 2015 03:02 PM
Gib from MInneapolis/St Paul

I listened to this story... it seemed familiar to me. Did a little research and found this, no wonder is seemed familiar.

Jun. 23 2015 02:26 PM
mark from Long Island

Please, don't invite Note To Self to do another episode of your podcast. This was the weakest point I've ever heard on your show.

My podcast playlist is growing. If Radiolab is going to be played, it needs to be the great Radiolab I fell in love with. Not a subletted spot on my playlist.

Jun. 22 2015 10:45 PM

Big deal low tech beats high tech. A person can use an umbrella or sunglasses paired with a hoodie to hide. People phreak about technology because "they" don't understand how the technology works. The best method to hide is to hide in plain sight. Facial recognition software isn't 100 percent... There are flaws in facial recognition software.

Remember "Do your told and OBEY"

Jun. 22 2015 08:43 PM
Margaret root from Faurfax, VA

Couldn't this technology be used to track poachers? That would be a use almost everyone could approve of.

Jun. 22 2015 06:56 PM
John from us

Stop cozying up to other podcasts and do your own thing.

Also, don't ever invite Manoush Zomorodi back.

Jun. 22 2015 02:11 PM
Ed Miner from Anchorage Alaska

Radiolab should not abdicate its Bully Pulpit responsibilities. The arguments against letting police and government use this tool to make our country a safer place will not hold up if the discussion is allowed to progress beyond vague Big Brother is watching fears (which was the predominant tone of this piece). The truth is that the future will not be dystopian and the arc of history bends toward justice. Come on Radiolab! Use your Bully Pulpit to expose how vague fears are preventing implementation of a useful tool.

Jun. 22 2015 11:55 AM
Michael Hammerschlag from Czechia

Hmmm, I have less privacy concerns over this than some other things- since the data is almost microscopic, the planes,cameras, constant flying, and infrastructure very expensive; and the potential to solve serious monstrous crimes like the cartel murders tremendous. It is hand in hand with the NSA practice of saving EVERYTHING, so they can look back and discover the whole history of some bad actor. The problem, who decides who is bad, and how widely will this stuff be available.

Undoubtedly though, this technology will get much cheaper,omnipresent, and pervasive. It is great for capturing criminals, but great for oppressing citizens too. I'd support it with strict limits on how info is used- for very serious crimes only- murders, rapes, not, say, PI adultery investigations.

And how could you NOT connect this with the news about FBI planes doing this over a dozen cities.

Jun. 21 2015 01:19 PM
Anthony from charleston SC

no "and npr" in the intro. Any reason for that?

Jun. 21 2015 11:40 AM
Richard from Welland, S.Aust

What an intelligent bunch of commenters! Congratulations Radiolab. I am prompted to write by Manoush and Robert's view of this. Or maybe it's their seeming intractability, inability to consider another view, which does them no service.

My feeling is that in effectively democratic society, government's intervention in your life and privacy occurs maybe 100 times per day, and 99 of those are never to your detriment.

So why shout "foul" when government power is mentioned? My concern is that this constant pitting of the individual against the state is not serving us. Come inside!

I am trying hard not to say "Go live in a cave!", or characterise your argument as "nobody can tell me I have to immunise my kids against polio!", because that would be uncharitable :-)

C'mon Manoush and Robert, nobody should be a trusting idiot, but "I don't trust the government" is not an argument, it's a rant.

Jun. 21 2015 01:34 AM
AW from 11693

Why do we need another technology that continues the status quo? Can we design a technology to give more to those in need so they aren't pushed into committing a crimes?

Jun. 20 2015 11:14 PM
John from Canada

There's seems to me a dangerous assumption in both this discussion and also perhaps that recently over the internet.
It is the presumption of privacy in public.
If I am to walk down a public street I accept that I may be seen and noted, if I visit a webpage i assume the same. In both cases there are steps I can take that may possiblely obscure the degree and scope of knowledge I give a potential observer.
The degree to wich we do this is varible and sometimes counterproductive ( mearing a ski mask at the local mall or using something like TOR online may hide personal details yet at the same time draw more attention than desirable) and sometime obvisious (niether at the mall or online would it be wise to walk around with my name, contact, credit card information, and passcodes clearly displayed).
The danger is in rather than worrying about what we are revealing to any unknown observer we often perfer to not think about it and we find offence if its made obvisious. The unknown man openingly staring at you from across the room while you eat is an almost universally offensive act, but that doesn't mean we eat like pigs. We are offended by the man overtly starring at us not our visibility from his perspective. We accept that we are not physically invisible we just expect the social pretense of being unobserved, but its foolish to assume that's anything but a pretense.

Technology has progressed that this publicly available information is able to be collected, noted, and classified largely autonomously. This is not something bar a new dark age that's going away, and while it may make us uncomfortable but its foolish to pretend that it isn't possible, and indeed increasingly likely to already be happening.
The question here is not if this information is available, by its definition it is, but who has acess to it. If it is only accessible to a few it gives them great power. If authorities can collect this data in an publically unmonitored manner the potential for abuse is extremely high. If corporations can buy or sell this information the potential for exploitation is extremely high. Neither of those two options suggest socially healthy outcomes but Legally or not this information will exist.
The genie will not go meekly back in the bottle.
Rather than eliminate this information, we can't, our only (fair) option is to devalue it, if the authorities or corporations can easily monitor my public actions I should have access to monitor their.
This is not going to be a easy transition, nore one that it is likley to be willingly accepted, possesion of this information is power and power is never given away. The public knowing the location of patrol cars may hinder effectiveness, the public knowing the location of mayors or other public officials will definately add to security concerns, other unseen outcomes are certain.
The social upheaval of this will be profound but an illusionary state of privacy only empowers the few.

Jun. 20 2015 08:42 PM
Chant from Philadelphia

So one thing I thought was left hanging was the actual utility of this data without any eyewitnesses. The episode briefly mentioned the need for eye witnesses on the ground and did not consider the extent of the data gathered. It presented the system as perhaps more omniscient than it may actually be in practice. In all examples used to illustrate the Eye, the police or military required information gathered on the ground, without which the system may not be as powerful. With the amount of data the Eye gathers (and the fact that it takes a person to comb through it, not a computer) it would be hard to pick out an individual from the crowd without a specific request. Illicit activity that occurs under the Eye of Sauron would pass unnoticed, as far as I can tell, without an eye witness or report so the amassed data could be effectively used.

Jun. 20 2015 08:07 PM
Denyse DuBrucq from Dayton

Wonderful coverage. How will you ramp up production when the orders come flying in from around the globe? My problem exactly. This coverage does dish out your capabilities fantastically well.

Take Dayton where nightly news coverage comes more from the "who done it"s than the who discovered what or is designing what. If the jobs were available, fewer would have to make bad choices in life putting themselves in prison. If the crime solving rate were up ten times its current rate, the crime would dwindle and the fine people making bad choices would dwindle and there could even be more happy, productive families enjoying their lives together with children really learning something emerging as productive citizens. It would be nice to make policing a simpler position in the community. We have six day a week checking on all with mail boxes by our US Postal Service. If the mail piles up, is no one home? Quickening the cadence and focusing on events, the where did they come from and where did they go in real time can end the losses encountered from crimes which lower the potential of every one making them have to spend more time on recovery than free choice progress.

With the crimes solved, fewer would commit them and then the demand for prisons would dwindle. I personally believe that is not a bad thing. We can hire those employed in prisons in other positions paying as well or better, and those that waste their lives in prison, free board and room if you will, would have to get on with things and earn a living. I believe they might well enjoy it as they get used to it. Nothing like circumstances to teach them to make choices, better choices that move themselves ahead, not others backward.

Nice work, Ross.


Jun. 20 2015 10:45 AM
Katie from Colorado

I'd like to see them address the potential for getting the wrong person or car. Maybe this technology could point you in the right direction like in the Mexican cartel but you wouldn't be able to use this data as evidence. If you are just seeing shapes and pixels, there's no guarantee that the pixel you are seeing is the pixel you are interested in.

Jun. 20 2015 09:07 AM
M from Germany

How easy is it to doctor these images?

Jun. 20 2015 06:10 AM

As I listened to this, I remember hearing about FBI spy planes over Baltimore after the violence there last month.

I am certain that those planes have at least as advanced technology as McNutt's planes, and possibly more advanced. We are heading down a rabbit hole and we have no idea what is at the bottom.

Jun. 20 2015 01:57 AM
Michael from Washington, DC

There is one aspect of this issue that was not discussed in the podcast. The horrendous violence in Mexico and Iraq did not appear spontaneously out of the blue. Obviously, we created the problem in Iraq, but what about Mexico? One of the principal drivers of crime and violence in Mexico is our "war on drugs." Anyone who does not understand this has their head in the sand.

So in both of the extreme examples that seem to justify the loss of privacy, we have created the need for a toxic solution.

Am I the only one who thinks this vicious cycle is what is truly toxic?

Jun. 20 2015 01:46 AM

The terrifying part about this story is not what was covered. It's that this technology is cheap and can be used just as easily by the drug cartels as it can be by the police. Imagine, for example, a situation where this technology is mounted to the belly of a small plane and used to track the movement of police officers from police stations back to their homes. Imagine ISIS using this technology to track military movements. I'm worried about the government abusing this technology, absolutely. However, I'm even more worried about criminals and extremists using this technology without the sorts of moral qualms expressed by the individuals interviewed for this story.

Jun. 19 2015 10:28 PM
A from Vancouverouverouver

Most cities are already blanketed in security cameras, and people are concerned about being captured as pixels in aerial images? I'm at a loss as to our collective silliness about this issue. Clearly PSS should be allowed to help. Their policies concerning short period data storage and restrictions on image detail are courtesies they don't have to take, and ones surely others will ignore. Obviously this technology and this idea exists in the world now, and organizations will make use of them. We're debating about whether Juarez should use it? Really!? Take it now, before the cartels start using it to further their own goals. Seriously.

The NSA is a creepy use of technology. Aerial photos for the assistance of capturing murderers, saving kids from abductions, and helping cut police budgets (not to mention cut costs to citizens who often suffer significant financial damage from unsolved crimes) is dazzlingly efficient. If anything, I think this will help improve police-community relations by allowing crime cases to be quickly dealt with.

Better to go with a partnership of civil oversight and good-willed private business than wait for drug cartels and multi-national corporations to fill this now apparent void.

Jun. 19 2015 07:26 PM
Nikolai from NYC

I see nothing wrong with this technology as defined simply because there is no invasion of privacy. At least insofar as described in the podcast, the cameras view public environments, streets from the air. They see nothing I can't see when passing overhead in an airplane. Perhaps because of practices such as mass collection of phone data, which is very troubling, people are having a knee-jerk reaction and lumping this technology in with such true invasions of privacy. But this is not at all like the camera that observed Winston Smith in his home in the novel, 1984. If these cameras were using some sort of x-ray like technology to see into homes that would be a very different story. But in fact no warrants are needed here when this is used in the USA, because the 4th Amendment is just not implicated. If you are in public view, you are fair game for anyone's camera. If you are naked or dealing dope and therefore don't want to be seen, stay indoors, but not in a public indoor space like a library. Stay in your home.

Jun. 19 2015 06:42 PM

So, I'm looking at this in a slightly different way. I'm really glad they presented the Mexican cartel example in the story because it brings up an interesting question. Doesn't it seem likely that at some point in the near future, such organized crime organizations will find the means to acquire the same technology and use it to their own ends? I think the answer is, yes, it seems highly likely. In other words, although the technology does seem at the moment to offer a huge benefit in terms of security for the "good guys", in the long run we may just be looking at a break-even when you factor in the potential to engage in much more effective crime activities in the future using the same exact technology. Another angle to consider as we're trying to decide how much of our privacy and, potentially, our freedom we wish to sacrifice to security.

Jun. 19 2015 06:34 PM
JP from Nevada

When our privacy is brought into question we guard it ferociously, however we cannot be naive. Government already has an enormous amount of power. You don't think in a database somewhere, someone could mark you to a no fly list and you could not get an airplane. Your cellphone company could just tap into your phone and get private conversations. The power to invade our privacy is already here, it may just not be right above our heads in a version of an eye in the sky. It's a different kind of cocktail, but it's still alcohol, it's not a new concept. So if the power is already here, why are we afraid of this power in a different form that could save thousands of lives?

Jun. 19 2015 03:00 PM
Amr Hassan

As a disclaimer, I want to clarify that I am not an American but I think it is clear how Americans don't only hold their rights to privacy but their choices actively affect the rest of the world

First off, I want to put it out there that I don't think that these surveillance programs, which you barely scratched the surface off, are as effective in keeping you safe as this podcast made it feel like.

Secondly, I want to clarify that I don't mind programs that are actually being lawfully administrated by some jurisdictional authority which actually take the privacy of the people seriously. But what actually happens is that government is hardly trying to be transparent about surveillance and they hardly take privacy seriously as Snowden's revelations showed.

Now I think that privacy is your right and don't you shouldn't follow anyone telling you to compromise it for safety, because you don't have to compromise your rights for anything much less force other people to let go of their own rights with your choices.

Surveillance is one of the greatest means of control, and anyone having such power will make sure to maintain this power. Whether it is by monitoring their own people to gain power over them by releasing their secrets or harming them directly if they chose to oppose them, or by orchestrating effective opposition in other countries or giving these same information to docile dictators in certain parts of the world to keep them in power by helping them in oppressing their own people. And I know it is hard for you to care for people in other countries or even believe that your government can do such things, but if you bothered to look, you will find that your government is openly supporting such dictators.

Lastly I want to say that big brother IS watching and he will use any dirty means to keep themselves above all else. And you alone have the power to stop them.

Jun. 19 2015 02:59 PM

Hey Seth, don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya

Jun. 19 2015 02:19 PM
Greg from Brewster/NYC

I think Manoush and Robert are being excessively sensitive. I'm not generally a pro-surveillance kind of person, but the potential advantages of a system like this far outweigh the potential disadvantages. Far, far outweigh. The police murder in Juarez is just the tip of the iceberg. But doing this with planes will be obsolete fairly quickly. This type of technology will someday be possible via satellite technology.

Jun. 19 2015 01:56 PM

I think if you asked the millions of victims of crimes what they would do with this technology they might say they'd approve. I just can't understand how something with concrete results could cause such a divide between people all over the perception of privacy. If we're being honest, there's no part of our lives that is completely private. Hard drives, street cameras, cell towers, etc., track our activity on a daily basis so how does this tech make life any more vulnerable? Maybe with my military background I'm used to being an open book. My concern is what would make you choose not to use something that could potentially save your, your child or your loved one's life?

Jun. 19 2015 01:02 PM
Levi Wallach from Reston, VA

I'm trying to understand what the downside of this tool is outside of making Robert and Manoush feel creepy or "nauseous" [sic] because it feels weird for there to be a camera looking at public places around an entire city? I'm not saying I'm all for every possible surveillance method out there, but I do want to understand what are the downsides of this that are so great that it would allow us to forgo a tool that would allow us to solve 10 times the number of crimes we do now within a very short order, let alone actually prevent some crimes from being committed (such as a murder after a kidnapping). Could it be abused? Sure, ANYTHING could be abused, but that doesn't mean we forgo it because of that possibility, we simply have a discussion and put safeguards in place to prevent abuse.

Jun. 19 2015 12:08 PM
Charles L. Peden from Benbrook, TX

There are already cameras everywhere. This is just an exponentially more useful camera for helping to solve the worst of previously unsolvable crimes. What a specious controversy.

Jun. 19 2015 09:44 AM
Gabriel from Berlin, Germany

WHAT?!?!? How are you going to leave me hanging like that? I have been dwelling on this issue for a long time and, sadly, much like this show I often find myself at the end of the line with no firm conclusion, but you guys are pros(!) so I was hoping we'd get some kind of lead to an answer.

It seems clear to me that this is a hot-button issue which a lot of people feel strongly about, but because it smells like Orwell is no reason to say it's bad, nor that it anyone would be "less free" because someone could potentially see where they went in an larger scale effort to help resolve major crimes and protect public safety in any of the many situations that arise, daily, all around the world.

It seems outrageous that people would point their finger and say "BAD!" without being able to give any reasonable justification for their condemnation. It just seems absurd, actually.

Jun. 19 2015 09:38 AM
Seth Panning from cincinnati Oh

I think I need to move out of this country

Jun. 19 2015 08:15 AM
Mike Koen from Austin, Tx!

Jun. 19 2015 07:57 AM

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