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Technology v. Thinking, aka Photo Radar v. Savvy driver.

Technology seems very important to both organizations and their leaders. Piles amassed in to mountains amassed into continents of data for the purpose of  ?.  It is all about technology and what technology can do for us.

I am reminded by this story to remember to ask the question – What can technology do to us?

This little story is from a friend…

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 As spy satellites became all the rage and all calls could be eavesdropped upon, I noticed that agents were being replaced by satellites in space and computers in bunkers.  Field agents were being let go and the new plan was to monitor the world from space and from data.  As one remembers this idea was first theorized and attempted in Vietnam, which proved ineffectual. And then in the Middle East, where the world missed several opportunities to capture people of significant interest prior to 9-11-2001 and those we were in conflict with in early 2003 and 2004.  A large part of this failing was based on lack of resources: both in people on the ground and a high reliance on technology alone.  And now we are deploying this same technology model in Middle America with speed cameras.

Photo radar works with a very sophisticated camera and speed detection system, which I might add takes excellent quality photographs of the driver and vehicle.  The first ticket is mailed to the owner of the vehicle with a great deal of strong language trying to intimidate you into paying.  If you do not pay the ticket the authorities have the option to have you personally served with the summons to appear to make it a true “legal notice” and binding between the municipality and the offender.  As most of these summons go to process servers getting only $10 per services, the process servers do not try all that hard to get it right or get it done.

So I figured if the enforcement people were going to take the men out of the field and rely 100% on technology to catch me I would provide the data monster with some false inputs.  I would deploy an avoidance system that was simple and clever enough to thwart any attempt to catch me in my occasional speeding ways with photo radar.   I think if the language was not so nasty and the ticket had no points – I would have just paid the ticket for being dopy in public, but the size ticket and the language ticked me off to no end. I shared my plan with a few friends.  My friends ridiculed me for spending time and money on this endeavor, but then again, they already knew I was perhaps a bit crazy.

The photo radar ticket would have been a $175 dollars and I was going to spend $40 for mess with the data monsters.  What did I do, what was my false input into the data monster?  – I changed my house’s street number from 193 to 202…which naturally flowed with the numbering on my cul-de-sac…the $40 was for on the new number on a piece of existing granite I already had. The new number fit in with the existing numbers on my cul-de-sac I even took the opportunity to go from odd to even.

 Sometimes, though,  one can be too clever by half, – as I did inconvenience myself for 6 months with express delivery packages not getting delivered and by not explaining to the Pizza Delivery Dispatcher how I was serious about my order and to please not let the driver give up on the delivery.  I am sure I spent more in extra trips to the express package pick up office and tips to lost pizza delivery drivers than the ticket would have cost, but did I mention they ticked me off? An interesting note, the mail carrier took no notice of the change.

I, personally, was extremely delighted when the new a new police Chief drove from one location to my home town and said he saw several patrol officers along the way, and was shocked to see only cameras when he crossed into my – our – little town.  I felt justice was given back to men in the field when the new Police Chief removed those damn cameras.  So to this day, I will still fight technology and defeat it…if you want to catch me…put an officer in a car with a radar gun and have him pull me over, I promise to be polite.

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This story illustrates the combination of technology at it best and worst.  The technology is excellent. However,  the laws in place are no suited to the technology, and thus there’s a serious mismatch between the deployment of the technology, how it is used and how it can be defeated. – Note this story is not just about speeding tickets….

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