Above: IP-based video intercom system door panel with keypad camera. Credit: BEC integrated solutions.

Biometric entry

Above: Vision-Box biometric automated border control entry-exit system implementation at Gatwick Airport, UK. Credit: Vision Box.


Above: Comelit intercom entry system supplied by A.T. Alarms. Credit: A.T. Alarms.

Gastso speed camera

Above: Gatso roadside speed camera in Belgium. Credit: Pypaertv.


Virilio recalls his astonishment, when, around 1990, he arrived outside the residence of a friend (a block of flats) to find that the once simple door bell had been replaced with a video-entry system--and so he found himself confronted by "the lens of a micro-camera" the technology of "automatic videoscopy (PI: 1)." For him the unblinking eye of the entryphone camera struck him not as an artificial eye but an "electro-optical porter (PI: 2)." The video-camera being something like a night-watchman or security guard who is snoozing until the moment that the presence of an unfamiliar visitor becomes apparent--at which the tiny camera-eye sparkles into life (PI: 1).

Many CCTV-based systems are automated and function without human intervention--e.g., roadside speed cameras or biometric scanning pass-gates at international borders; these are absolutely robotic, meaning they are ordinarily beyond the requirement for any human oversight whatsoever, hence "we have entered the age of the automaton, not the old myth, but [rather of] the working robot (VW: 31).

This sets in motion a troubling narrative of humans under the authority of machines (VW: 31-31). Control is being yielded--ceded--to autonomous machines, for trivial things at first it may seem (like parking or speeding fines) but of course this is just the beginning (VW: 31-31). Already, autonomous robotic machines have progressed from controlling parking fines to borders and immigration. And this is how the narrative will always progress: incrementally--as if a very definite tactic, intended to arouse the minimum alarm in humans.