OWLS July “Technology” Post: Psycho-Pass, Technology, and the Reality of Privacy and Justice
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
I don’t have a whole lot to say for this intro, other than just introducing the topic for this month, which is Technology:
For this month’s topic, we will be discussing how technology impacts our relationships with others and how it improves our lives (such as in communication, education, and etc.) by exploring the technology used in various anime and pop culture worlds.
As always, be sure to check out posts from my other lovely OWLS friends who will be posting before and after me, and for this month that will be Aria and Takuto, and try checking out our posts from last month as well.
With that said, here is the post:
In an age where technological advancement has increased rapidly over a relatively small period of time, many take for granted that same technology and its wide-scale usage and application. Another thing people often take for granted are the values that technology holds. Now, many might respond with the idea that most technology is value-neutral, and can be used in both good and bad ways, but what if it was technology was determining and enforcing values?
Enter Pyscho-Pass, the story of a society governed and orchestrated by the Sibyl System, a technology that scans the brain and assigns a score based on a person’s likelihood of committing a crime. The main story centers around Akane, a new member of the police force assigned to be an Enforcer, someone who uses a weapon known as a Dominator to catch those the Sibyl System has determined to be a threat and even kill them if necessary. The main villain of the show’s first season is named Makishima, a man whose aim is to destroy the Sibyl system, and also someone who is able to avoid detection by it, due to being Criminally Asymptomatic.
It is easy to see the Sibyl System as just fantasy, and that nothing like it could ever possibly come to life, but, as this article from Purdue Global points out, with a rise in the technology used to commit crimes, there is also a rise in the technology used to stop it. For example, computers have enabled the widespread adoption and application of Rapid Identification Systems, store a wide variety of data related to a person’s criminal history. Technology such as Drones can even help stop crime in real time by giving police an aerial view of a situation. Now, in a lot of cases, these things can be considered good, and worth pursuing. However, the government and those agencies in charge of protecting citizens are not always as noble as they may appear.
On the other side of the equation rest things like PRISM, a program under the National Security Agency (NSA) that was originally intended to gather intelligence on citizens of other countries. However, the reality of the program is quite different. In 2013, NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information from inside the agency that suggested those working there had “direct access” to major technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, meaning those working at the NSA had the ability to look at millions of people’s data without them knowing. In other words, PRISM Constitutes one of the larges violations of the fourth amendment in U.S. history.
The Sibyl System is similar in many ways. It is a giant agency free from outside pressure that is working to rein in criminals through extremely questionable methods. In fact, much of what actually determines a person’s “latent criminality” in Psycho-Pass in never really well explained, and at the end of the first season, it is revealed why. Akane, after a long battle with Makishima, discovers that the Sibyl System is actually made of brains of individuals who are also Criminally Asymptomatic. At this point, it becomes clear to Akane that the system she thought stood for Justice and fairness is, in reality, much different, and that maybe Makishima’s plan was not so crazy after all.
The reality is that while technology can be used for good, it can also be used by governments to help in the violation of people’s rights. Technology’s infinite possibilities, while tempting to pursue in the short term, should always be managed with a long term vision of having people benefit from it.
How do you guys feel about Technology? About Pyscho-Pass? Let me know in the comments. If you guys would like to support Animated Observations consider donating on Ko-fi or through Paypal:
If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friendos!