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Conference papers

The Great Catopticon

Jean-Gabriel Ganascia 1
1 ACASA - Agents Cognitifs et Apprentissage Symbolique Automatique
LIP6 - Laboratoire d'Informatique de Paris 6
Abstract : Since a couple of years ago, some well known computer scientists, such as Steve Mann, argued that the development of information technologies and their capturing of everyday life with webcams and RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) would not lead to surveillance, but to what they called sousveillance, i.e. to a state where everybody would be watching everybody. For them, the diffusion, on the web, of all available information, would prohibit the existence of a central superpower that has the exclusive privilege to watch without being watched. This paper is aiming to demonstrate that the underlying structure of sousveillance is a Catopticon, i.e. a mirror tower based architecture. The notion of Catopticon has been defined in opposition to the Bentham’s Panopticon, which rationally organizes surveillance. The paper draws some possible ethical consequences of the extension of the Catopticon to the entire planet. It tries to show that a universal Catopticon is necessarily unique in nature and that it can coexist with multiple Panopticons. As a consequence, a generalization of sousveillance principles does not prohibit the existence of surveillance societies.
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Contributor : Lip6 Publications <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 2:48:37 PM
Last modification on : Friday, December 13, 2019 - 11:44:05 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01298094, version 1


Jean-Gabriel Ganascia. The Great Catopticon. The 8th International Conference of Computer Ethics Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE), Jun 2009, Corfu, Greece. pp.252-266. ⟨hal-01298094⟩



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