Companies are the cops in our modern-day dystopia

It is amazing how reality has come to mirror dystopian science fiction. In the 2002 film Minority Report, Tom Cruise played a policeman working in a specialised division in Virginia known as PreCrime. It apprehended individuals based on foreknowledge of their crimes provided by psychics.

The mass surveillance and technology depicted in the movie - location-based personalised advertising, facial recognition, newspapers that updated themselves - are ubiquitous today. The only thing director Steven Spielberg got wrong was the need for psychics. Instead, law enforcement can turn to data and technologies provided by companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and intelligence group Palantir.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2018, with the headline 'Companies are the cops in our modern-day dystopia'. Print Edition | Subscribe