In the late 18th century, an English philosopher by the name of Jeremy Bentham suggested that prisons be modeled on what he called a panopticon — a type of building that allows an observer to view inmates without them knowing that they are being monitored.
This idea didn't catch on widely. But Peter Singer says today we are living closer to the notion of the panopticon than Bentham could have ever imagined.
Singer points to the proliferation of surveillance cameras, webcams, technology that allows police to scan license plates and the collection of personal data by Google and banks, among other things.
Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer told Here & Now's Robin Young that somewhat surprisingly, people don't seem that bothered by being constantly monitored.
Singer says it's even possible that constant surveillance could make us better people, that being watched could force people to be more "honest and transparent."
- Harper's Magazine: Ethics In A World Without Secrets (subscription required)
- Peter Singer, Princeton bioethicist
This segment aired on October 3, 2011.