As a futuristic, hi-tech dystopia increasingly takes shape around us, the concept of the Panopticon is more relevant than ever as it functions as the underpinning of the ever-growing mass surveillance grid.
For those who are not so familiar with 18th century social philosophy, a Panopticon was originally the design of a prison building by an English philosopher named Jeremy Bentham. The Panopticon prison’s architecture would allow one guard in a central guard tower to observe every inmate without those prisoners knowing that they were being observed, and so those incarcerated were left to assume that they were actually being observed all of the time. This prison would, in theory, allow that singular guard to maintain order over every inmate.
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