Saving the world in the age of surveillance

User avatar
Kuildeous
Posts: 1505
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:59 pm

If today's entertainment is to be believed, the government has the technology to tap into any traffic cam and locate a specific person or license plate. Yet, when my co-worker's niece was abducted, it was a civilian responding to an Amber Alert who saved the day. I'm not completely savvy on surveillance, but I presume that Core Earth is just not capable of dedicating that much processing power to finding a face or license plate.

But what about Tech levels 24+? Surely, Pan-Pacifica would have developed technology to allow facial recognition scans to process more quickly and efficiently. What's to stop them from scanning a picture of a Storm Knight and finding out the last intersection he went through? Russians with high tech? The religious monomania of the Cyberpope? It seems that a Torg campaign could end very quickly when a High Lord (or his lieutenants) recognize the danger posed by a Storm Knight and enters them into the database. How do we keep the story going at that point?

I'm sure Ulisses will address this in one way or another. Possibly in the core book, but it wouldn't surprise me if it requires waiting for the realm book. So this may simply be an academic discussion.

Pan Pacifica is fairly easy with the intrigue. Procedures that allow you to catch bad guys can allow you or your family to get caught as well. There may be a bit of unconscious sabotage in the procedures because very few people actually want surveillance to be effective.

Tharkoldu have been called lazy, so I could see them not fretting over surveillance Other parties?

The Cyberpapacy is the big thing. Witch hunts are big here, and nobody wants to be caught harboring a heretic. Technology is so advanced that processing power is a moot point. I can imagine a scenario where the GodNet automatically logs anybody caught on camera doing a hostile action so he can be detained 2 minutes later. Of course, hackers are a big thing in this genre, and perhaps it's the hackers who keep the system from being 100% effective.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

User avatar
Gargoyle
Posts: 1797
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:20 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby Gargoyle » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:09 pm

Kuildeous wrote:If today's entertainment is to be believed, the government has the technology to tap into any traffic cam and locate a specific person or license plate. Yet, when my co-worker's niece was abducted, it was a civilian responding to an Amber Alert who saved the day. I'm not completely savvy on surveillance, but I presume that Core Earth is just not capable of dedicating that much processing power to finding a face or license plate.


Ah, but Core Earth is not the real world. Core Earth is supposed to be more cinematic, and some even call it Cinematic Earth out of character because of its world laws and the amount of possibility energy. It's the world of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, and also movies with a lot of surveillance stuff like the Jason Bourne movies and the tv shows 24, CSI, and NCIS, though some are more grounded than others.

So I think it's on the edge of Core Earth tech to do facial recognition if it fits the tone of the adventure, and certainly if possibility rated characters are involved.

But what about Tech levels 24+? Surely, Pan-Pacifica would have developed technology to allow facial recognition scans to process more quickly and efficiently. What's to stop them from scanning a picture of a Storm Knight and finding out the last intersection he went through? Russians with high tech? The religious monomania of the Cyberpope? It seems that a Torg campaign could end very quickly when a High Lord (or his lieutenants) recognize the danger posed by a Storm Knight and enters them into the database. How do we keep the story going at that point?

I'm sure Ulisses will address this in one way or another. Possibly in the core book, but it wouldn't surprise me if it requires waiting for the realm book. So this may simply be an academic discussion.

Pan Pacifica is fairly easy with the intrigue. Procedures that allow you to catch bad guys can allow you or your family to get caught as well. There may be a bit of unconscious sabotage in the procedures because very few people actually want surveillance to be effective.

Tharkoldu have been called lazy, so I could see them not fretting over surveillance Other parties?

The Cyberpapacy is the big thing. Witch hunts are big here, and nobody wants to be caught harboring a heretic. Technology is so advanced that processing power is a moot point. I can imagine a scenario where the GodNet automatically logs anybody caught on camera doing a hostile action so he can be detained 2 minutes later. Of course, hackers are a big thing in this genre, and perhaps it's the hackers who keep the system from being 100% effective.


Certainly it would be easier with tech 24+ to track people. Robotic drones, tiny cameras, and high tech computers would make things easier. And certainly at tech 26, nanobots and the like make it insanely pervasive.

But here's the thing, the world laws and low social axioms work against these realms. In Pan Pacifica, there is all sorts of treachery, so I can see lots of network security. Corporations might even isolate their core networks entirely, cutting them off from the Internet, and while a security system might be fantastic, corporations aren't going to share information, and the government is probably weak...so no national database or interconnectivity.

Tharkold demons aren't going to share information or interconnect networks unless that connection helps them dominate the other network, so again, information doesn't freely flow. The axioms would support it, but not the world laws.

In the Cyberpapacy, I can see a lot of surveillance. Drones, cameras and microphones embedded in humans and animals' cyberware, it would be everywhere. But the low social axiom works against them. They may have a national database but getting to it would require sorting through the Church bureaucracy, which despite their tech moves slowly. There isn't cooperation internally and fear creates so many security safeguards (including literal firewalls probably) that getting the access you need is probably difficult, even if you're a high level inquisitor. I agree about the hackers, I think it's a good idea for Cyberpapacy to have the resistance make an impact.

In Aysle and Orrorsh divination takes the place of technology and might be even more effective, though in the former it requires someone actively looking to find people and in the latter there are always risks when using the occult.

So IMO, the GM can make surveillance a big problem for the PCs whenever it's convenient and not a big deal at all when it gets in the way of the game. For all their high tech and magic, the realms have their weaknesses in how their world laws and social axioms impede surveillance. Of course players have an impact too, if they start trying to use surveillance more to meet their goals, or if they're being sloppy about laying low, but I think it's really up to the GM on how effective it can be for both sides. Main thing is to make it a fun thing and not something that causes the players to act too cautiously, but use it when it makes sense for the game.

Glad to hear your niece was found btw.
"That old chestnut?"

Gargoyle

Stormchild
Posts: 262
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:21 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby Stormchild » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:55 pm

The problems with Social vs Tech axiom aside every technological advancement has its own adversary built into it. I recommendate the Shadowrun Sourcebook Neoanarchist guide to real life as a best practice example on how tech can be used to beat tech. I hope a Torg sourcebook will even do better than that (not an easy task btw).

Surveillance is a common problem in any setting. In Aysle a divination spell can track you wherever you are, in Orrorsh Wicked (the Gaunt Man's Mirror) does the trick and there are lots of occult rituals that work the same, in the Living Land, Lanala will provide a miracle to track you, in Nile Empire, there is surely a gadget that does the trick, but for every way to track you there has to be a counter-measure.
I don't make things complicated. That's the way they get, all by themselves.

User avatar
Rabbitball
Posts: 763
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:41 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby Rabbitball » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:15 pm

The main thing to consider is that every character is bound by the needs of the story. If the bad guys need to know where the good guys are, there is a way to do it, and vice versa. But for every surveillance technique, there is an equal and opposite plot device that keeps it from spoiling future adventures. Star Trek had the transporter, but when that would have spoiled the story, suddenly there are complications that prevent it from working.
Dominick Riesland, aka Rabbitball
Co-author, Aysle Sourcebook for Torg Eternity
Creator of the Cosmversal Grimoire
"Those who will not follow are doomed to lead"—Anarchist, Magic: the Gathering

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4901
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:18 pm

Kuildeous wrote:If today's entertainment is to be believed, the government has the technology to tap into any traffic cam and locate a specific person or license plate. Yet, when my co-worker's niece was abducted, it was a civilian responding to an Amber Alert who saved the day. I'm not completely savvy on surveillance, but I presume that Core Earth is just not capable of dedicating that much processing power to finding a face or license plate.

But what about Tech levels 24+? Surely, Pan-Pacifica would have developed technology to allow facial recognition scans to process more quickly and efficiently. What's to stop them from scanning a picture of a Storm Knight and finding out the last intersection he went through? Russians with high tech? The religious monomania of the Cyberpope? It seems that a Torg campaign could end very quickly when a High Lord (or his lieutenants) recognize the danger posed by a Storm Knight and enters them into the database. How do we keep the story going at that point?

I'm sure Ulisses will address this in one way or another. Possibly in the core book, but it wouldn't surprise me if it requires waiting for the realm book. So this may simply be an academic discussion.

Pan Pacifica is fairly easy with the intrigue. Procedures that allow you to catch bad guys can allow you or your family to get caught as well. There may be a bit of unconscious sabotage in the procedures because very few people actually want surveillance to be effective.

Tharkoldu have been called lazy, so I could see them not fretting over surveillance Other parties?

The Cyberpapacy is the big thing. Witch hunts are big here, and nobody wants to be caught harboring a heretic. Technology is so advanced that processing power is a moot point. I can imagine a scenario where the GodNet automatically logs anybody caught on camera doing a hostile action so he can be detained 2 minutes later. Of course, hackers are a big thing in this genre, and perhaps it's the hackers who keep the system from being 100% effective.


This is certainly something that we're going to be leveraging with the Cyberpapacy, and there are a couple of Cosm Cards that definitely deal with this.

For the other high tech cosms, there would be less of an emphasis on this but mainly because we want the emphasis on this sort of trope to be a Cyberpapacy thing. This doesn't mean you _can't_ have it in Core Earth or Pan-Pacifica, just that it's not necessarily going to be an ongoing thing...at least on the 'state' level. Obviously those Kanawa Coroporation labs will have their own surveillance.

But yes, I would expect at least a certain amount of this subject when it comes to the Cyberpapacy book.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4901
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:20 pm

Gargoyle wrote:
Ah, but Core Earth is not the real world. Core Earth is supposed to be more cinematic, and some even call it Cinematic Earth out of character because of its world laws and the amount of possibility energy. It's the world of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, and also movies with a lot of surveillance stuff like the Jason Bourne movies and the tv shows 24, CSI, and NCIS, though some are more grounded than others.

So I think it's on the edge of Core Earth tech to do facial recognition if it fits the tone of the adventure, and certainly if possibility rated characters are involved.



Basically this.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4901
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:21 pm

Stormchild wrote:The problems with Social vs Tech axiom aside every technological advancement has its own adversary built into it. I recommendate the Shadowrun Sourcebook Neoanarchist guide to real life as a best practice example on how tech can be used to beat tech. I hope a Torg sourcebook will even do better than that (not an easy task btw).



I might have to pick that baby up.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4901
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby TorgHacker » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:23 pm

Rabbitball wrote:The main thing to consider is that every character is bound by the needs of the story. If the bad guys need to know where the good guys are, there is a way to do it, and vice versa. But for every surveillance technique, there is an equal and opposite plot device that keeps it from spoiling future adventures. Star Trek had the transporter, but when that would have spoiled the story, suddenly there are complications that prevent it from working.


Discovery by surveillance is a great Setback, or even better a dilemma during Dramatic Skill Resolution.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

Lanir
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:22 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby Lanir » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:50 pm

I haven't looked into Torg recently so apologies if this is out of touch with where it's going.

One of the problems in the real world when you have information is... it's just information. It doesn't act or react on it's own. When you grab tons of it, you have a hard time finding the bits you need. You might have all the info you need already and it's just sitting there in storage. Either you don't know it's there or you don't know it's important yet (like a new book in a library that hasn't been processed yet and put on the shelf). Automated alerts to tell you that information you want has just come in may fail due to quirks or minor programming errors. The more awesome information you have in one place, the more tempting it is for other people to hack into. Combine those last two sentences and you can have theives stealing critical info from you and using it before you do (this is probably more cinematic than realistic in most cases). And lastly, the more secure something is, the harder it is for anyone to use it. Even people who are authorized. Think how much more obnoxious it is to open a bank vault versus unlocking your front door. Even the bank employees have to deal with that and they're supposed to be using it. This trade-offis one of the primary reasons security is bad in so many places.

Not sure where in Torg sentient artificial intelligence comes in. Really good AI could solve some of the above. Other parts like security are always an arms race so security vs. usability will always be a thing.

I don't know if any of that is useful for a cinematic game but if you imply some of it without getting sucked into details it might help with the atmosphere. The security vs. usability bit is probably the most useful. It at least answers the question of why everyone doesn't max out their defenses against hacking.

Misroi
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:53 pm

Re: Saving the world in the age of surveillance

Postby Misroi » Thu Jun 01, 2017 3:27 pm

Core Earth and Pan-Pacifica have the ability to surveil everyone and gather copious amounts of data, but each have their own problems. As mentioned above, Core Earth has processor limitations - sure, that supercomputer can scan all sorts of camera footage searching for a face, but if you don't know where to look, then you're looking at a looooooooooooong runtime. You're not just looking for a needle in a haystack - you're looking for a very specific needle in a meadow somewhere in the Midwest.

Pan-Pacifica, on the other hand, faces different challenges. Better programming languages, better processes, better tech - they might be able to search several terabytes of footage for the Storm Knights that raided KanawaCorp last night. Here's the problem I see there, though - the corps play each other. Sure, they might get your likeness during the break-in, but once you leave, who owns the space outside? Did you walk by some ATMs that caught your likeness? Well, that means those guys might have you, but if they're competitors, they might not be likely to share that data. The Law of Intrigue (assuming it or something like it exists in TE) is your friend here - nobody trusts anyone enough to cooperate for long, and sharing that sort of video evidence isn't going to come easy...or free.

The Cyberpapacy sounds like the police state nightmare that you're wanting, and they're the ones that could actually do the sort of realtime video analysis and tracking. With hyperadvanced processors and AI software, it becomes somewhat trivial to track someone's movements through Cyberpapal France.


Return to “Setting Discussion (TORG)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 20 guests