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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Las Vegas and the future of Surveillance

What is it with Las Vegas and flunkies?

I was getting a taxi today from a rather upmarket Las Vegas hotel, and they have a guy who asks you in a patronising voice where you want to go, and then opens the door for you. All competely superflous stuff that nobody actually needs in any way (especially if you're planning to go to the strip club) I also noticed everyone giving this guy a tip for such a non-service. Now waitresses and waiters I can understand, since they actually provide a useful service, but nosey parker door opening, borderline aggressive begging flunkies? No thanks. Anyway, I got a cuttingly sarcastic (i.e. fuck you, hope you die you cheapo non tipper) 'have a great day' as I didn't give him any tip for the nothing he provided. Fair enough he's not working for any salary but he also isn't providing any kind of service...

Anyway, a bigger shock was an hour ago, when I got another taxi to the xxx casino, walked up to the single deck blackjack, changed up $70 (I wanted to play quickly to double up to $140 for a small poker tournament.) As soon as I got my chips, the pit boss came over to the dealer and told her, 'Sorry this guy isn't allowed to play blackjack.'  Of course she thought he was kidding, but he wasn't.

Within 5 minutes of being in the casino, talking to nobody, and not giving over any ID or anything that could give away my identity, they were able to confirm, purely from my face from when i was last there (last October or so) - exactly who I am and, sadly, the fact that I'm banned from playing Blackjack in their casino.

What does this mean? Of course, The xxxx possibly spent millions of dollars on a super duper facial recognition system to stop guys like me taking them for lots of money. But its bigger than this. Is this the future of western society? The potential uses for facial biometrics are pretty amazing. Capturing criminals or 'terrorists' by simply putting out their data on CCTV and waiting for them to go to the shops? Detecting fraud? Even finding dates or the next perfect face of TV could all be done one way or another here. Certainly makes for reasonable paranoia while staying here in Las Vegas.  Most casinos on the strip at least, must therefor know exactly where I am, how many casino chips I have, how much i'm up or down, and whether they should let me keep playing or ask me to leave...Imagine that extrapolated into city wide areas? Welcome to the future, dear friends, Big Brother really is watching you...

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