Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wheel of Fortune and Identity Theft and more!

Tonight must have been airhead night on Wheel of Fortune. In one single game I saw a contestant attempt to buy a vowel that the player to her left had just attempted (unsuccessfully) to buy only moments ago ("I'd like to buy an 'E';" "Sorry, no 'E's;"
On another note, a virtual friend and I were amicably arguing about the appropriate punishment for identity thieves. He kept arguing "kill 'em!"... but I think I have a much better punishment.

  1. The "stuff" that the identity thief bought using the stolen identities is given to the victims, and the identity thief is responsible for paying for the merchandise.
  2. For those victims who do not want the "stuff" the thief bought, the associated items will be sold and the money distributed to the victims as compensation for the identity theft.
  3. All possessions, businesses, etc. belonging to the thief are then sold as initial payment for the "stuff" that was illegally bought.
  4. The identity thief is then locked up doing hard (or otherwise profitable labor) to continue to pay for the illegally purchased items. During this incarceration the thief is NOT allowed access to the internet, mail, or outside contact (in order to prevent further perpetrations of identity theft).
  5. Once the entirety of the balance due for the illegally purchased goods has been paid, the thief will CONTINUE to do hard (or otherwise profitable) labor for LIFE, with the proceeds being split three ways:
    • 1/3 is used to support the local prison system
    • 1/3 is used to support the local school system
    • 1/3 is paid to the victims in a continual compensation for the identity theft
  6. In deference to my virtual friend, I agreed that, once the thief is no longer capable of doing hard (or otherwise profitable) labor, he can be killed... and his organs sold for that last little bit of profit.
I think that this sort of punishment for identity theft would provide a great deterrent for future potential identity thieves; consider:

  • If the sentence is death, the thief might think, "What's the big deal? If I get caught, I get killed, and that's the end of it."
  • If the sentence is according to current sentencing standards (cf. Wiki Article and news article), the thief might think, "What's the big deal? If I get caught, I get two to ten of state-sponsored bed & breakfast... and I can probably continue my identity theft practices while the state's paying to feed me so that, when I get out, I'll have a lot of 'stuff' waiting on me!"
  • If the sentence is LIFE of HARD (or otherwise profitable) LABOR with NO OUTSIDE CONTACT, the thief might think, "Whoa! Maybe I don't want to be doing this 'cause, if I'm caught, I'm going to be paying for it for a LONG time!"
So there you go, my recommendation for the sentencing of identity thieves.

Totally unrelated (or is it?), are you familiar with Google's Street View? Surely you are. This guy is... and he's making his own version, cheap (check out the article, then come back here for more amazing insights!). On top of that, it would be possible to add a second "Google street-view-like cam system" mounted vertically above the first, leading to stereoscopic panoramic imaging. What good is that, you might ask? 3D. With the stereoscopic imaging, you could generate three-dimensional panoramic views. Add to this the fact that you could conceivably conceal the equipment in, say, a hat band, and suddenly you have for some really impressive spy-like (private investigator) work... tie it in with GPS positioning data, and you suddenly have geotagged (that is, location aware), three-dimensional, panoramic imagery.

Cool, yes? Just wait; there's more. If you haven't already, check out Picasa, Google's photo indexing and editing software (a free "rival" to Adobe's Photoshop - while not in the same category as Photoshop, for the casual user, Picasa probably offers all the functionality you'd need, and it's free). Guess what Picasa does now? Face recognition. That's right - you let it search your photos, and it'll say, "There are #### unidentified people in your photos." You then start tagging the faces and Picasa starts recognizing the tagged people in other photos. It's not perfect, but the more you tag (and untag when it guesses wrong), the better it gets. In fact, it will even pick up "faces" that you would otherwise have ignored... like the face of your son on an ornament hanging on the Christmas tree which is the backdrop of some photo or other. Even when that face is tiny, out of focus, and partially obstructed.

Now... mix THAT in with the aforementioned panoramic, location-aware, three-dimensional imagery, and suddenly you have some pretty sophisticated spyware... the ability to recreate the moments, including tagging and identifying the people in your imagery. And since you have 3D, location-aware imagery, you can identify not only the people in the photos, but also the when and where of their locations. All automatically (once it's built up a database of people, of course... or a concise database of "intended targets" that you want to try to track for whatever reason).

Pretty scary stuff. Almost makes you long for the days when you actually had to see someone to shoot them... you know, like 30 years ago.

'sall for now!


Marie said...'re scaring me with all that stuff about the cameras and facial recognition and location identification.
AND...I don't think criminals truly think about the consequences if they get caught. They have their own way of thinking and they think what they are doing/did is right for some reason--kind like the rest of sinners, huh?

Tony M said...

Yeah, scaring me, too.

Well, if the punishment for getting caught stealing is chopping off your hands, well, that may deter some potential would-be thieves. If the punishment for identity theft is hard labor for the rest of your life, well, that may deter some would-be identity thieves (but probably not much). The main point is that it might help deter some of the more casual criminals... those who are going to do it anyway, like you said, probably won't care about the consequences.

But it works out well for the victims, too, in this case, doesn't it? I mean, I'm thinking, if someone steals my identity and buys a new boat, hey, I'd like to have it, and if I can have the boat and he gets to pay for it... almost makes the theft of my identity worthwhile from my point of view (or at least not quite as catastrophic to my way of life).

Just a thought. :)