Are we just a half-step away from becoming the kind of humanoid computers who ran things in The Matrix? That was my second thought when I heard about the Canadian documentary filmmaker Rob Spence, who plans to have mini movie camera implanted in his prosthetic eye so he can film people anonymously. (My first thought was: Wow, cool! That’s so Bond-meets-bionic.)
Apparently Spence was a huge fan of the 70’s TV show about Steve Austin, a crime-solving stud imbued with super-powered vision and leg speed after undergoing a $6 million procedure to replace some body parts with better, faster, stronger “bionic” versions. And it only occurred to him recently, when he saw how small cel phone cameras are, that he was a perfect candidate to sport his own version of a bionic eye. You see, Spence has had a prosthetic eye ever since he lost the real one as a teenager in a shooting accident. He then convinced a camera company to build him a movie camera that he could move with his muscles. And wait until you hear what he plans to shoot with his undercover equipment: A documentary on surveillance cameras and the Orwellian intrusiveness of being filmed constantly without our consent. Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered The Twilight Zone.
But seriously, I feel like there’s a limit to what people should do to make these types of statements. Has anyone else been feeling lately like all the technological advances of the past few decades have pushed past the tipping point of being useful into a dangerous zone where they’re putting us out of jobs and robbing us of privacy and the elemental joy of sitting down with a cup of coffee and an actual newspaper in the morning? Call me a Luddite, but is anyone with me on this? And if not – or even if so – would you watch the documentary that Spence is making?