Omniscient technology

Omniscient Technology is a technical word coined by Ronald Fedkiw from Stanford University in order to describe the suite of technologies used to gather all possible information. The term only applies to the gathering of information, and has nothing to do with its storage, classification, and interpretation. This is unlike other terms such as machine learning which is a branch of artificial intelligence that could be used to process and interpret the data collected using omniscient technology. Notably, the term artificial intelligence was coined by John McCarthy<ref name="Coining of the term AI"/> whose office at Stanford University is directly next to Fedkiw's office on the second floor of the Bill Gates computer science building.
Omniscient Technology is a more technical term to describe an array of devices which are often referred to using the slang term "Big Brother", which draws a connection to the invasive style of surveillance and monitoring described in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is derived from the term Omniscience. It's important to distinguish omniscient technology from ubiquitous computing, where ubiquitous computing is used to refer to technology being present everywhere, and omniscient technology refers to pervasive technology that is able to sense the environment around it and interpret this input. In a sense, ubiquitous computing is a necessary precursor to omniscient technology.
Examples of Omniscient Technology in the World
As technology becomes smaller, more easily embeddable, and therefore more prevalent in the current environment, omniscient technology already is a major part of the modern world: traffic enforcement cameras, radar guns, security cameras, etc. Because of the nature of many of these early technologies, omniscient technology (and the slang term "Big Brother") is often used in a negative light. For example, red light cameras, though outwardly intended to make driving safer by preventing people from running red lights, are often criticized as being a purely money-making exploit of law enforcement <ref name="speedcontract"/>. However, other uses of omniscient technology shine a more genuine light on the use of omniscient technology. For example, radar speed signs <ref name="radarsign"/> are not hooked up to any data collection device that is intended to penalize, but exist solely to warn drivers that they are traveling over the speed limit, encouraging them to slow down. Technology like this are examples of how omniscient technology can be used to improve people's daily lives.
Perhaps one of the most famous uses of omniscient technology in history was the use of a recording system during President Nixon's term in office to keep a record of as much of the daily interactions of the president as possible, as President Nixon believed that this would be important for preserving history for posterity <ref name="nixon"/>. Recording devices were positioned throughout the White House and Camp David, and when the electronic beeper that the president wore as part of the presidential locator system entered into one of these areas where recording devices were present, they would automatically begin recording. These recordings played an important role in the Watergate scandal.
Emerging Uses of Omniscient Technology
As technology, and in particular sensor technology, becomes smaller and cheaper to produce, omniscient technology will have an even larger impact on people's everyday lives. Devices that people already carry around with them everyday, such as cellphones, GPS's, etc, as well as devices people already have around the house, such as XBoxs, , exercise machines, etc., are already laden with sensors that are capable of collecting and aggregating a wide range of data. Companies are just beginning to take advantage of this emergence of omniscient technology. For example, BodyMedia <ref name="bodymedia"/> are making wearable devices that help people live healthier. Progressive car insurance is installing devices in people's cars to track how they drive, and provide discounts based on good driving habits <ref name="progressive"/>. The American government is also becoming more aware of the prevalence of omniscient technology, and recently a bipartisan bill called the "Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights" <ref name="bill"/> was passed to help protect people's personal information from invasive applications and devices.
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