You are being watched.The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant.
What would your reaction be if you found out that the government had a machine that was spying on you (and everyone else)? The point of the surveillance is to detect and prevent acts of terror. And, what if you found out that the system actually worked and had stopped many act of terrorism? What would you think? Would you be scared? Angry? Confused? Intrigued? Would you keep it a secret? Would you want to tell the world?They wouldn't act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up...we'll find you.-- Intro Voice Over of Person of Interest
It was an impressive shock to the established pattern of the show, and one that started me asking questions about the underlying philosophy of POI. After all, it was deceptively easy to buy into the premise of two people with extraordinary resources and skills trying to help people and operating just outside the parameters of the law. Since the show is following them, we can see the choices they make, mistakes that happen and the problems they have with the morality of their means to an end. But the questions aren't only on THEIR side of events. As someone who is being watched (within the mechanics of the show), how would you feel about the existence of that Machine? (Please don't bring up any Sky-Net references. While interesting, that's not the point of this particular post.) Would you give up privacy FOREVER, to potentially save the lives of your fellow countrymen? Would you be happy with just the ILLUSION of privacy? Would it make you feel better knowing that it was a machine and not some government spook watching you, cataloging your life, and looking through your private files?
The most compelling part of all this is that these questions are no longer as far-fetched as they would appear. Humanity may not have the tech to build this machine yet, but we will and very soon. As I mentioned in a previous post, science can do it. The question is SHOULD science do it. In my mind, it really comes down to a matter of trust. Not necessarily in the faceless monolith of "The Government", but in the individuals that make up that monolith. The human beings that are just trying to do their jobs and do what they think is right given the information & power they have. So, my dear readers, I put the question to you:
Would you trust the government to use the Machine properly?