Radiolab from WNYC: Eye in the Sky
June 25, 2015 8:11 AM - Subscribe

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?
posted by latkes (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As much as I've come to enjoy the production and writing of Radiolab, their ideology also tends to bother me and this episode had problems for me on that score.

As someone articulated in this piece (Manoush Zomorodi?) the criticisms of mass surveillance tend to feel very vague. But I think one could make very specific criticisms. One of the only ones we really hear was during the closing credits when we get the forum participant asking about how the data gathered could be used to target communities of color.

For me the bigger issue about this episode was accepting the core idea that surveillance and arrests (and prison) are the only ways to reduce violent crime. Like, it goes without saying here that if only we can arrest more people, or the right people, crime will surely go away. But I think years of data belay that whole idea.

Like this episode, in the guise of presenting a "debate" about surveillance, actually just reinforces the big lie that we need more policing, more prisons (or at least better policing), instead of like, income equality, better schools, meaningful work, or other measures that could reduce crime and improve our quality of life while also leaving our tenuous privacy intact.

On the plus side, I've never listened to Note to Self and now I want to check it out.
posted by latkes at 8:21 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

didn't they mention that community policing is not (necessarily) harmed with this tech? it was only briefly mentioned.
posted by garlic at 1:39 PM on June 25, 2015

Yep, community policing was mentioned.

Latkes seems to be bringing in all kinds of extra baggage into the show. It had a pretty narrow focus on the technology and how it specifically affected crime fighting into two places using a single example in each place.

At 20-mins long, it didn't have time to go into a dissertation long discussion on the best ways to solve crime through-out the world.
posted by sideshow at 8:07 PM on June 26, 2015

I don't expect the show to touch all related points, but I think the whole premise of the show reinforces a falsehood (in a scientifically demonstrable sense) about crime. So the show serves to reinforce an inacurate and highly problematic mainstream narrative.

Community policing isn't the issue: where I live, there are almost no options besides crime for survival. No amount of even the most effective (whatever that means) policing can undo the fact that we have among the worst schools in the country and no jobs.
posted by latkes at 10:22 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

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