Recording Time and Space

A Texas town is upgrading their police cars to include digital video feeds of activity that will eventually be sent wirelessly to headquarters for storage. The idea is to keep a video record of police activity for use as evidence in investigations and eventually in court. The public may also use the recording to support allegations of unlawful police conduct. Other municipalities have expressed an interest in the IBM technology.

In apparently unrelated news, The World Wide Panorama has released QuicktimeVR of various spots in the world all taken around the same time during the 2004 Spring Equinox. QuicktimeVR provides a 360-degree panoramic image of one moment in time.

Computing power is growing exponential according to Moore’s Law. Digital storage space, like hard drives, are also growing exponentially in size. Video quality is getting better and better, wireless capacity is increasing, and cameras are showing up in cell phones and street lights in addition to the increased use of other video surveillance technologies in response to terrorism and crime. With GPS, sensors can now pinpoint their own location with increasing accuracy in three dimensional space and in time.

The universe (or at least our tiny corner of it) is increasingly being recorded for future playback. Might this eventually become a deterrent to crime? Could future historians plumb virtual reality recreations of our near future, instead of just browsing written documentation and images? What if alien probes have been recording the history of Earth all along? There are not likely any alien VCRs in orbit, but humans will eventually have the technology to record every moment of every point on the Earth in amazing detail.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).