Sonic Omniscience: If Everything Had Ears

Posted on Posted in 2015 Workgroup Topic Proposals

What if every sound in the world was being recorded, and tagged with location and time?  What if it was all searchable, reusable and accessible from any device?  What new information could we learn from a sonic omniscience?  What could we detect and automate?  What problems could a system like this create or solve?  What would it disrupt?  What new forms of art could emerge?

As our world becomes increasingly filled with sensors and microphones, and the services we use are paid for with disclosure of data, it seems as though a system like this might one day be possible.  What are the long term implications of a sonic omniscience?  Is it all NSA and 1984, or are there opportunities to mitigate an Orwellian dystopia and use a system like this to create a better world?  What responsibilities should those developing sensor networks and search algorithms have to ensure the best possible outcome?  What should the equivalent be to Asimov’s “Laws of Robotics?”

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