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After all, you’re only acting out of self-interest.If paradise suffered a power cut and the surveillance was temporarily down, you’d be in there straight away with the other looters.
These musings are intended to frame a set of questions: What is the likely impact of ubiquitous surveillance on our moral personalities?All he wants is absolute, unquestioning obedience (which, by an amazing coincidence, also happens to be exactly what every child wants from their parents.) But God wants this obedience to be voluntary.And, very importantly, He wants it to flow from the right motive.He wants right actions to be driven not by fear, but by love for Him and reverence for what is right.(Okay, He did say to Adam, “If you eat from the tree of knowledge you will die” – which can sound a little like a threat – but grant me some literary license here.) Moral philosophers will find themselves on familiar ground here.Does it render obsolete the Kantian emphasis on acting from a sense of duty as opposed to acting out of self-interest?Such questions fall under the rubric of a new field of research called Surveillance Impact Assessment.We don’t have to toil among thorns and thistles for the rest of our lives, earning our bread by the sweat of our brows; childbirth is painless; and we feel no need to wear clothes.So why didn’t God do that and save everyone a lot of grief?The reasoning is fairly simple: the better the surveillance, the more likely it is that moral transgressions will be detected and punished.Knowing this, people are less inclined to break the rules, and over time they form ingrained rule-abiding habits.