Virtual Face Tattoos

El Salvador jailed 70,000 people, 1% of the 7 million population, and went from the top to the bottom of the murder league tables.

A somewhat unusual set of circumstances in El Salvador made this unthinkably complex task easier than it might have been in other places. Not least among these was the fact that, in some form of cognitive oversight or compulsion to confess, the majority of the worst criminals had conveniently tattooed their faces with gang declarations.

Unfortunately, in places where the ‘bad guys’ tend to look exactly like the good guys, things are more challenging.

This is not a new problem. Telling the ‘good guys’ from the ‘bad guys’ has always been tough, and people tend to clutch at any available heuristic. If there is even the slightest real or perceived correlation between naughty behaviour and outward phenotypic markers, society will hail it like an astrologer hails a grand alignment. This is why racism is so popular (if rarely effective); at least you can tell one race from another.

Let’s therefore assume that removing the 1%, like El Salvador just did, turns a Haiti-style hellscape into a tropical Switzerland—

The 1% of the population accountable for 63% of all violent crime convictions:

—how would repeat achieve this? Is there any technological solution? Some actually effective Sci-Fi version of racism that allows naughty individuals to be recognised and scooped up off the street?

I have an idea (a plot point in my new book). Population-wide AI monitoring, paired with some sort of AR labeling. This setup could inscribe a virtual face tattoo for the really bad guys.

The eyes are a window to the soul, a local AI (Security Sage) could pull your soul out through those windows and hang it in front of the shop for everybody on the street to see.

You’d get stopped and searched more than the lady who doesn’t have a virtual serif six six six on her forehead, but the cops don’t get access to your Security Sage. If they’ve got no evidence, you get to walk…


The good guys are not going to agree to something like this being applied to them, when the downside of totalitarian overreach is giving the lizard’s puppets even more control over our slaughter pens.  We, the good guys, will need to be reassured that our personal criminal histories will be kept safe.

This is the tricky bit.

You can’t trust the ‘Public Cloud’ for this kind of thing. If we have to keep a tally of all our dirty secrets, it has to be secure as hell! All our bad stuff fiendishly encrypted and only released to the authorities if they can demonstrate ‘just cause’…

Ah, but who decides what is ‘just cause’? The same AI that tagged you with your holographic tattoo. Your personal criminal history (and maybe the odd birthday, concert, and first day at school too) would be saved, tamper-proof, under the lock and key of a local software agent that understands the law and will only turn you in under understood and pre-agreed circumstances. The cops can complain as much as they want, but if they don’t have corroborating evidence, they can go punch a tree.

This would effective-racism against an extended-phenotype created by a publicly agreed set of rules designed to stigmatise and identify the naughty-people for removal or incarceration.

The parameters of the algorithm would be open-source and democratically agreed upon. They could be fine tuned according to the will of the people: a sliding scale from tracking everything including occasional jay-walking and library late-fees, giving a social-credit system where your personal low-score is written across your brow. Or, at the other extreme, maybe just a little dripping tear tattoo for each unprovoked aggravated homicide…

Public spirited implementations could forgive and allow the tatt to slowly fade or shift.
Fifteen years after your last crime spree, all that’s left is that tiny virtual satanic butterfly on your buttock.


SALOA and the Flat Solar System Hypothesis

Most people are not interested in fundamental truth nor the nature of reality. Most people, as a friend of mine often quotes, just want to: “get born, keep their heads down, and die… if they’re lucky!” Reality is messy, and, as I point out in my upcoming book, insufficiently graceful to act as a foundation for society.

In the new book, the Kin, one of SāmeruMandala’s factions, embrace this limitation, settling on a world-view fictional enough to soothe simple minds, but with enough utility to support day-to-day interactions. Their cosmology is loosely based on the Indian Vadas, mixed through with generous dollops of flat-earthism.

Maps from my upcoming book (a Space Opera, imaginary voyage of two outer system natives to the home-world):

With this in mind, I just stumbled across this article: ‘Australia is FAKE – and if you think you’ve been there, you’re wrong

I do tend to prognosticate pretty well in my writing—mostly, simply by choosing the most cynical and incompetent action from the options available to our intrepid leaders. Here, the ‘spider senses’ of my paranoid, conspiracy-affine mind, can’t help thinking they are planting the seeds of a new flat-Earth cosmology in order to conveniently push all the wars and poverty to the North (real) while they, the Kleptocrats, and lucky not-so-natives, enjoy the South (mal-information, make-believe land). I’ve got a hunch Australia and New Zealand will gradually become fake news so they can be transformed into a WEF utopia for the ultra-elites: it’s the ultimate lock-down!

Long term, they are probably still hoping for luxury space colonies, but the Antipodes will provide a medium-term stopgap for the next century or two.

Restricted Vocabulary

I have a chapter in one of my books called restricted vocabulary. It tells the tale of a dolphin taught to speak— via a computer-brain interface—but not given the words to express the anguish of its captivity.

Why do our emoji keyboards and voice-to-text assistants (yes, I’m talking to you Siri!) make critical speech difficult?

Where is the ‘Resist’ emoji?