Eclipse Phase | AUSTIN, TEXAS | 2015-2019 A.D.
STEALTH IS WEALTH
The art of covert operations is that of accomplishing a mission without being detected until it’s too late. The perfect covert operation is never discovered at all. The trick 1s to avoid being identified as an enemy, either by masquerading as something else or by not being detected. Guile and stealth are your friends.
The classic method of infiltration is stealth. Sneaking past your opposition has the advantages of requiring less information and preparation on your target than infiltration by impersonation.
It’s not as easy as it used to be, though-not only do you have to watch out for live opponents, but electronic sensors can detect the pressure of the most careful footstep or the passage of a solid object through atmosphere; they can see in the dark and hear a mouse fart.
Stealth requires that all clothing be as noiseless as possible. All equipment must be strapped down and muffled. Given electronic sensors, a full set of passive sensor receptors is essential to detect active sensors before they detect you. Finally, the best way to bollix a sensor setup is by telling the control computer that the sensors detect nothing (don’t forget that InfoSec Operatives!).
Impersonation means convincing your opponent that you’re a friend. This is the method of choice in the post-TITAN age, since it avoids the problems of sneaking past hard-to-avoid sensors.
Impersonation is tougher than it sounds. Most installations feature security that can perfectly identify each and every person working there. In many theaters, identification usually relies on relatively simple measures-IFF transponders, security checks (nanotattoos, DNA scans, passwords, voiceprints, gait recognition, Brainprints), and visual recognition. If you acquire the proper appearance and are able to pass the security checks (possible with proper sleeving, cosmetic surgery, or InfoSec assistance), you can practically waltz in and out. Military installations are particularly susceptible, since most of them have lots of people running around in uniforms which can be stolen or imitated. (Be sure you choose someone your size when you mug a victim for his uniform). The biggest danger is that of encountering someone who personally knows who you’re supposed to be (or knows everyone in an area and might recognize that you don’t belong).
Every installation has some defense, even if it’s only a doorlock. The main defense types are covered below, along with how to defeat them. Most installations won’t have too many different types of defenses, because they’re expensive and get in the way of doing what the installation is set up to do.
Static defenses are those which don’t actively hurt intruders. Instead, they detect intruders or keep them out by increasing the difficulty of crossing (i.e., walls, fences, razor wire). To most special ops teams, detection is harder to overcome than mere barriers.
The best advice is to get into the security computer that controls all the alarms and sensor reports. From there, you can dictate what the opposition’s gadgets detect This can be tough, because often installation security AIs are internal networks, and not accessible from the Mesh so you’ll have to be able to access an on-site terminal.
Total Information Awareness (TIA) is a catchphrase often thrown about in surveillance circles. Let’s be clear about something right up front: there is no total information awareness. You will never be able to access and monitor all the information that is present in an environment in a given timeframe, no matter what people may want you to believe—at least not in the heat of the moment, when it matters most. In most cases, there is simply too much data. Even with AIs, multitasking, and cognitive mods, dealing with the sheer volume of information available via surveillance networks is a major problem. Good spynet operators learn to filter out the chaff, to pay attention to the feeds that matter, to bounce between the data inputs most appropriate at any time in a dynamic situation, and to maximize their analysis by correlating data sets from different sensor feeds together. It’s a tricky balancing act. Just as important is knowing what information you’re missing—where are the gaps in your sensor network, what types of scans are unavailable, and what may have been disabled, tricked, or otherwise nullified.
No matter how good our surveillance technology is, it will never be perfect at detecting criminals, terrorists, or enemies—or in stopping events before they occur. Its use as a deterrent is limited. While sensors are beneficial in emergency response situations, even here they are vulnerable to interference and the impediments caused by general chaos. Where spynets really thrive, however, is in piecing together the data of what happened afterward. The omnipresent spimes and overlapping sensors in any habitat are a fantastic forensics tool, and the various lifelogs and personal sensor recordings of individuals often help piece any confusing elements together.
What this means for people in our line of work is that it is often impossible to avoid getting caught on record to some degree, despite your best countersurveillance efforts. If you’re careful and smart about it, however, you can avoid getting tripped up before an op is complete. The real challenge then is bugging out and getting clear before the trail you’ve left can be used to track you down. The best operatives learn
to minimize their trails as much as possible, do what they can to confuse and mislead follow-up investigations, and get out quickly, cutting all ties to the op and any IDs used.
It also means that Operatives need to learn to use spynets to the best of their capabilities. When monitoring or pursuing a target, knowing the tools you have at your disposal and the tricks for using them effectively can make the difference between a successful op and a slaughter.
SENSOR NETWORK ADVANTAGES & LIMITATIONS
One of the largest advantages to modern surveillance systems is remote sensing—the ability to capture information on a target, whether an object, area, or phenomenon, in real-time without needing to be in physical or intimate contact. The capabilities of some sensors to measure and record across long distances (from a few meters away to watching from orbit or across thousands of kilometers of space) and/or through barriers means that targets are often unaware that they are being monitored. Combined with miniaturization and wireless mesh capabilities, many sensors are small enough to avoid detection and the surveillance operators can be far away. When a closer look or actual physical contact is necessary, the use of near-invisible nanoswarms or microbots enables a spynet to unobtrusively acquire the data it needs. While most people assume they are under a certain degree of surveillance in urban areas, the actual extent to which they are being watched is easy to disguise. Likewise, the ubiquity of sensors and spimes means that even if a particular spynet falls short of its needs, there may well be public or private sensor systems the surveillance operator can access for their monitoring requirements.
Despite the integration of sensors into nearly everything, from highly sophisticated spimes to nanobots, morph implants, and other smart objects, a device’s sensitivity, resolution, and precision can still be limiting factors. Different sensors are simply going to have differences in range and resolution depending on the magnitude of the target (astronomical, transhuman scale, or cellular to atomic size) and their own dimensions. It is important to have the right tool for the surveillance job.
While breakthroughs in computing, energy selfsustenance, and nano-engineering have produced sensors able to resolve signals several orders of magnitude higher than those built in the decades before the Fall, the ubiquitous distribution, networking, and correlation of collected information remains the true boon to modern panopticon technology. Sensors or the operators using them can easily verify or enhance their own measured data with information supplied by other meshed sensors in measurement range. Since sensor data can also be easily stored, shared, and archived, it is a simple matter to cross-reference the “historic” data of other sensors in the same state as the one used as a reference. This is a common procedure to validate results and reduce background noise in an area scan.
The interpretation of sensor input is another potential liability with some surveillance devices. Since the actual users rarely possess the scientific understanding to analyze a sensor result from an advanced device properly (for instance, the virtual model of a full morph body scan involving terahertz exterior and high-resolution X-ray/magnetic resonance tomography interior scans), interpretation is instead carried out by specialized AIs. These automated programs correlate sensor readings with databases of reference scans to provide an analysis.
The drawback is that this system tends to give simplified answers to what are otherwise very complex processes. There is often room for interpretation in the results provided, given the limitations of AI skill and knowledge programming. To reflect this, many scanner systems provide a confidence level rating with each result. An infrared lie detection scanner, for example, rarely admits 100% certainty that someone is lying. To counteract this uncertainty, many modern scanner systems incorporate multiple different sensor types and use analytical techniques to minimize false positives and negatives.
To make the most of a spynet, you want to know the capabilities and limitations of the sensors at your disposal. Some sensors are ideal for certain situations and terrible at others; they may require fixed positions and be useless for mobile operations, or they may work best when integrated with other sensors. Here’s a breakdown of the state of sensor technologies.
THE VISUAL SPECTRUM
Cameras recording the standard visual part of the light spectrum remain a mainstay of surveillance systems. These are ubiquitous, incorporated into common spimes, public infrastructure, and other “everyware” devices. Thanks to advances with lens design and digital resolution techniques, even tiny cameras can produce highly detailed three-dimensional images and recordings. The camera lenses present in many spimes and devices are so small and unobtrusive as to be quite difficult to spot, though automated lens detection systems can locate them by laser reflection. Flat camera systems use multiple micro lenses networked together, with a central processor combining the inputs into a single high-resolution image. These allow flat surfaces to be covered in small imagers that are even harder to detect visually (but still apparent to lens spotter systems).
When combined with augmented reality, networked cameras can provide visual feeds on objects the viewer cannot physically see through. This is especially useful for traffic systems and navigation, where drivers and pilots can use the views from linked cameras to see what is going on beyond barriers and obstructions.
Higher-end camera systems can be equipped with quantum ghost imaging technology, enabling clear pictures to be taken through visually obstructive conditions such as clouds, smoke, fog, dust, and haze. These systems are common in military, gatecrashing, and search and rescue operations, enabling visual sensors to get a clear image of a situation despite explosions, heavy weather, and other impeding factors.
One common tool for area surveillance is superwide camera systems. Aerial and even orbital drones are often equipped with these sensors, providing continual coverage of an area by hovering or regular overhead fly-bys. A single super-wide camera can provide detail on an area up to 300 square kilometers in size down to 0.1 meter resolution. These cameras are also common in the upper infrastructure of dome habitats and the axis points of cylindrical and spherical habitats.
A drawback to visual camera systems is that they are sometimes vulnerable to high-resolution holographic displays, especially at a distance. These sorts of hyper-real illusions are easy to spot with combined systems, however, as infrared or other scans will likely show the hologram as false. On the positive side, camera recordings can be slowed down to analyze situations at a slower speed, revealing information that is often missed at real-time speeds. This is especially useful for measuring micro-expressions and other visual tells indicative of deception or emotional states.
QUANTUM DOT CAMERA-DISPLAYS
The cutting edge of camera systems are quantum dot camera-displays (QDCDs). These fullerene arrays of quantum dots have the capability to both detect and emit light, simultaneously acting as high-resolution camera and display. This enables the creation of displays that also watch the viewer. The real value of QDCDs is that they can be applied as a paint-like film on just about any surface. This means that any wall, object, or device can be transformed into a combination sensor systems and visual display. Because QDCDs do not use traditional lenses, they are invisible to lens-spotting devices. QDCDs can also detect the infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths.
THE HIGH ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM
Many common camera systems are also capable of detecting infrared wavelengths in addition to the standard visual spectrum. This allows the cameras to function in low-light/night-vision conditions. Unlike the monochromatic displays of old infrared systems, modern cameras see infrared wavelengths in color, much like standard vision with appropriate lighting. Infrared thermal-imaging is useful for detecting heat sources, including the residual heat traces left behind by someone recently sitting on something, walking through an area, or handling an object. The greater the temperature difference between the heat-emitting source and the environment, the easier these heat traces are to detect. Thermal imaging of the blood flow in the face, particularly around the corners of the eyes, is a component of lie-detection systems. Thermal infrared is also helpful when combined with standard visual systems, as it can see past fog, smoke, and light particles that might obstruct standard visual wavelengths.
Terahertz scanners are less common, but still see widespread use, especially at security checkpoints. Terahertz imagers have the advantage of being able to see through walls, clothing, and other material, though not as effectively as radar or x-ray/gamma-ray frequencies. Unlike these other wavelengths, terahertz sensors tend to be smaller and more portable. Though they function better as active systems (emitting t-rays), they can function as passive receivers at close ranges. For this reason, passive terahertz scanners are favored as a form of undetectable portal scanner. The drawback is that terahertz scanners will not detect contraband implanted within biological bodies, as t-rays do not penetrate skin.
Active radar systems are commonly used for air/ space/ground vehicle traffic and habitat/ship defense systems, and are sometimes deployed to detect small surveillance drones. They are less common in habitat and personal surveillance systems, due to their poor resolution and decreased effectiveness against lessreflective biological targets. Because the wavelengths they operate at are large, radar systems are portable but cannot be miniaturized to even hand-held sizes. Radar sensors are thus visually obvious and also detectable as actively emitting systems. The deployment of quantum radar has increased the effectiveness of radar systems, particularly in battlefield or cluttered conditions. Using entangled beams to take advantage of the low attenuation and high range associated with a long wavelength and the high resolution associated with a short wavelength, quantum radar does not have to compromise between range and resolution. Quantum radar is also more effective for image processing/recognition and detecting concealed targets.
Inside urban areas and habitats, security teams sometimes deploy a trick known as variance-based radio tomographic imaging, particularly when they want to see inside an area without using an active system like radar that might trip a passive sensor and alert the target they are being scanned. This trick takes advantage of the wireless nodes that are ubiquitous throughout a given area. By measuring the transmission and reception of the common radio signals on opposing sides of the target area, variations in the waves can be detected that indicate someone or something moving in the observed area. This allows observers to map the positions of any movement inside, thus detecting what room someone might be in or if anyone is even in the area at all.
THE LOW ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM
Similar to infrared, many common camera systems are capable of recording the ultraviolet spectrum as well. Aside from people and designers who happen to like decorating their selves, clothing, or designs with ultraviolet artistry, the main use for UV sensors is to detect security tagging. Some security systems, particularly anti-theft set-ups, are designed to mark a target with dye that is only visible in ultraviolet, making them easy to track and spot. This is a common trick also used by physical surveillance teams that are tailing a target—marking them with UV paint to make them easy to spot in a crowd or to catch a particular pattern via image recognition in a habitat-wide scan.
Active x-ray and gamma-ray sensors are less common, except at security checkpoints. While useful in portal systems to detect weapons, implants, and contraband, portable versions of these devices tend to be restricted due to potential health risks from radiation exposure. Nevertheless, security bots are sometimes equipped with backscatter x-ray imaging systems and set to patrol or monitor key areas of habitats, randomly imaging passersby. Radiation sensors are also a common feature in habitats, both to prevent transportation of weapons of mass destruction and to verify the habitat’s integrity at keeping out solar radiation and cosmic rays.
Microphones that capture audio frequencies in standard human hearing ranges are almost as ubiquitous as cameras—in fact, the two are often combined. Audio input can be checked against online databases, instantly identifying the source of a sound. Multiple microphones can be used to triangulate the origins of a sound. If gunfire or yells for help are heard, the source location can be pinpointed for further investigation. More sophisticated audio sensors allow conversations to be isolated out of a crowd or similar noisy environment. Similarly, laser microphones can detect audio and conversations taking place inside a room by picking up the vibrations of the sounds in glass or aerogel.
One drawback to audio surveillance is that it is easy to mislead. It is quite difficult to distinguish between a real sound and one previously recorded and played back, unless some other sensor system is able to record whatever created the sound as it did so. Voice analysis is also not perfect for identifying individuals, as people do not have unique voiceprints (especially synthmorphs). Voice analysis is, however, used to measure stress and response spaces in deception scanners.
Ultrasonic audio sensors are rarely used for surveillance purposes, except when incorporated in motion detection systems. Infrasonic audio pickups see more widespread use, particularly in monitoring the shell of habitats and ships. Audiosensing fiberoptic cables are often seeded the length of a security perimeter. These are capable of detecting the seismic signature of breaches in a wall or other barrier, and can also identify the acoustic signature of footfalls or moving vehicles a short range away.
Modern chemical analyzers rely on a mixture of spectroscopic and direct compound recognition methods, including ones biomimicked from human and animal olfactory and taste organs, to identify chemical components. The primary use for these sensors is in portal security systems to detect firearms and explosives, though this use is declining given the number of weapons and threats available that these sniffers will not detect.
More sophisticated nanotech chemical detection systems are placed throughout the ventilation systems of habitats and ships. These monitor air flow and quality, triggering alerts when sufficient quantities of smoke or other toxins or pollutants are detected or if the air composition strays from breathable levels or becomes too oxygen-rich (creating a potential fire or explosion hazard).
Some habitats have taken to using genetically engineered plants with special proteins that react in the presence of certain chemical concentrations. Around security checkpoints, these plants will turn white when they detect traces of certain explosives in the air. Others are designed to transform bright red if the atmosphere becomes dangerous (too much carbon monoxide or oxygen).
Some chemical sensors are specifically designed to sniff for alarm pheromones emitted by biomorphs. These chemical triggers are produced in sweat when a person is scared or worried—say a smuggler who fears being discovered or a terrorist on their way to commit mass murder. These primarily appear at customs checkpoints and the portals of highsecurity installations.
Biometric sensors measure the unique characteristics inherent to individual biomorphs such as fingerprints, palmprints, retina patterns, and DNA, among others. These systems have fallen out of style given that they are only useful in identifying biomorphs and not synthmorphs or the ego within the morph. Though also once common as an authorization method in security systems, this has been abandoned due to the ease of acquiring biosculpting and genetic mods that could circumvent such measures.
The biometrics used today tend to be systems that can scan and recognize identifying features non-invasively from a distance. These include laser retina scanners, portal-based x-ray skeletal scanners, personal body odor sniffers, and cameras with facial recognition software. Some security installations and customs checkpoints still deploy entryway puffers that blow skin flakes and loose hair into an analyzer for DNA testing. Nanoswarms are also sometimes used for this purpose.
One biometric system still sees common use: gait analysis. Gait analysis has been found helpful in identifying people even after they have sleeved into synthetic morphs, assuming it is a bipedal walker, like most cases and synths, and not using some other propulsion method. Gait scanners can even be deployed by overhead drones or orbital spysats, as gait can be measured and recognized based on the shadow a person casts.
SMART DUST AND SCOUT NANOSWARMS
Nanobot scanning systems are more common than many people realize. Their effective invisibility, combined with their ability to “touch” and sample the target directly yet non-invasively, make them an ideal scanning system. They typically are set to linger in a confined space (programmed boundaries) where they are replenished by a hive and discreetly analyze anything that passes through. They excel at acquiring DNA samples, identifying morph types, and investigating chemical residues.
Smart dust nanoswarms can also be instructed to catch a ride on passers-by, thus acting as a “bug” on the person or thing’s activities for the duration of its existence. These spy swarms have the ability to video, audio record, and even monitor radio and mesh activity. Some are set to transmit a steady stream of data back to their source, but the more discreet versions maintain radio silence and only transmit bursts of information at staggered intervals, to better avoid detection and interception.
Anyone with mesh inserts or an ecto—which is essentially everyone—leaves a data trail everywhere they go, tying their mesh presence to their physical activities. Most people do not obfuscate this activity, making it a trivial measure to track them online. Those who stealth their signals and/or engage their privacy modes may still be tracked, albeit with more difficulty. In some habitats, stealth/privacy modes are illegal or a sign of suspicion; users who engage them may end up bringing more attention to themselves by doing so.
Social networks add an extra dimension to this data. Not only can you track people quite easily, you can map out their relationships with others and gather intelligence on whole groups of linked people. The reputation award and strike interactions between people are also illuminating, linking people together at particular junctions and giving a sense of the progression of their relationship.
Some habitats and voyeurs make a habit out of intercepting and sniffing wireless transmissions. Security services may do this as preventive measure, scanning the intercepted traffic for keywords that might indicate criminal or suspicious activity. Voyeurs do it to get a taste of others’ lives, snooping on their affairs from afar. These interception measures may be countered with the use of VPNs or encryption, but in some jurisdictions these defenses are illegal or restricted.
Many people make their lifelogs and X-casts available to the public mesh, providing a real-time stream of data directly from their own sensorium or surroundings. These feeds are often monitored by others, so that if anything should happen to the person, others would likely know about it instantly.
OTHER SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS
There are many other sensors used to monitor the activities in a given place. Each of these is more limited, but still sees occasional or specialized usage.
Enviro Scanners: All habitats, from the lowliest tin cans to the largest O’Neill cylinders, are littered with spimes designed to collect environmental information such as air pressure, gravity, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and temperature. Plumbing systems measure water quality and recycling efficiency. Infrasound receivers, pressure and strain gauges, radiation detectors, dynamic photoelasticity scanners, gas and other olfactory sniffers are used to oversee the integrity of the habitats’ interior and exterior. Space habitat exterior sensors monitor the solar weather and scan for approaching objects (micrometeorites, debris, vessels) through the entire EM spectrum. Planetary habitat exterior sensors and satellite systems are meshed together to assess weather phenomena (storms, electromagnetic disturbances, seismic activity, rain) that may pose a threat. These safety and early warning systems are designed to trigger alerts if they start to degrade and fail beyond the capacity of their maintenance bot, repair crews, or self-repair nanoswarms.
Lidar Systems: Lidar systems are also nearly universal in the major public areas of habitats, as well as high-security areas. Lidar is particularly useful for developing real-time, comprehensive, three-dimensional maps of an area and noting any changes that occur to the positions of people and objects in that area over time. Lidar is also incorporated into stress and deception scanners, as it can remotely detect respiration and pulse rate.
Metal Detectors: An old and dated standby of security systems, metal detectors are still useful for detecting contraband and implants at checkpoints. Due to limited range, these are usually deployed as portal-based systems or hand-held wands to run over a person’s body. Though they are useless against nonmetallic objects/implants, they can provide data on the mass and type of metal when they get readings. Nanodetectors: Common in high-security areas, these scanners suck in air to detect the presence of nanobots. These are especially prevalent at custom and ship entrance points, to deter against TITAN nanoswarm remnants from the Fall.
Organic Sensors: A few sensor systems are grown rather than constructed. These modified versions of biological sensory organs are upsetting to some (particularly bioconservatives), but they are as effective as a biomorph’s senses—sometimes more so, when used en masse. These organs are linked by biological nerve strands that extend thousands of meters through the walls to a cyberbrain interface, literally servings as a habitat’s eyes and ears. Organic sensors are typically only found in biohabitats. They require a biological system of nutrient feeding, sustenance, and waste removal.
Pressure Sensors: Built into the flooring of entrances and junctions in many habitats (those with gravity at least), pressure sensors are primarily used to track the passage of heavier synthetic morphs, bots, and vehicles or to keep a simple head count on how many people are in a particular area. More sensitive versions can detect the footfall patterns of specific morphs.
Proximity Sensors: Portal-based proximity sensors detect the electrical fields of those passing through (even that produced by biological skin). These do little to identify an individual, they simply mark the passage of a person or machine.
The vast amounts of data accumulated on individuals and their activities online can lead to quite interesting results when correlated. Seemingly unrelated and non-interesting pieces of data can piece together into amazing revelations. The value of cross-indexing data is not just in understanding people more thoroughly—it also brings to light new relationships and activity that might otherwise have gone undetected. Additionally, many sensor systems collect ancillary data outside of their prime purpose, which often gets archived regardless of relevance. The x-ray scan of a person at a security terminal may have found no trace of contraband, but it may also have recorded a potential health issue that was outside the boundaries of its programming and so remained unreported. Later analysis of the x-ray scan in conjunction with other medical data could turn up unexpected results.
Probability mapping is the analysis of patterns of activity over time in order to model and predict likely future events. Transhumans are creatures of routine. Many people take the same routes to work at the same times every day or go to the same few restaurants or clubs with periodic frequency. Traffic through an area swells and thins at predictable rates. Criminal activity tends to focus around specific areas at specific periods. When you take the vast wealth of data available on the people in a particular habitat over years and feed it all into a quantum computer and group of AIs with potent pattern recognition algorithms, these systems can build models that are eerily accurate even with a nigh-infinite number of variables. Police units in the large Martian cities use these systems to identify hot spots and direct police units there to deter expected crime. Travelers access traffic AIs to determine the route most likely to have the least traffic. Anyone looking to monitor someone else’s activity can use similar AIs and input to build a substantial predictive itinerary for that person’s daily routines.
Probability surveillance easily crosses over into the land of behavioral psychology and profiling. While standard data surveillance tells a great deal about who did what and where they did it, behavioral tracking takes the same concepts to a whole different level. A surveyor well-versed in the intricacies of psychology sees the tells of data and forms a complete understanding of the way a person thinks and operates. The products we buy, the information we access online, the people with whom we associate, the places we frequent—these are just the beginning of the story. In a cafe, the table one chooses to sit at tells something of their personality. If one walks quickly to the cafe, but slowly to work, it says something else. Bed times, air conditioning levels, games played, these things are signals to a behavioral tracker. When combined with input from biolidar systems, stress scanners, analysis of our personal chemistry, and recordings of how we interact in different situations in our lives, a much deeper profile can be built. Lifelogs and X-casts are a virtual gold mine for these types of analyses, especially when measured over long periods of time. Some scientists swear by the discipline, advocating the universal assignment of numerous profilers to keep detailed case files on every transhuman in their habitats.
The unholy territory where probability and behavioral surveillance combine is colloquially known as “precog.” Precog systems are used to predict a person’s actions based on their sociocultural behavior, ground state abnormalities (people tend to change their standard MOs before committing a crime), interaction profile, mesh activity, and numerous other factors. Though far from perfect, these systems are sometimes accurate in gauging the likelihood of anti-social or criminal behavior. These predictive systems are not only applied against individuals; precog analyses are also used to gauge the potential momentum and activity of mass groups, particularly in situations of unrest or civil disturbance.
Though “precog” analysis systems have had a marginally effective success rate in predicting crimes when implemented under real conditions, their use has raised a number of social and legal issues. While the primary function of precog systems is to predict and prevent crimes before they occur, legal action against the potential criminal before the activity has been initiated rests on very thin and dubious moral authority. Most jurisdictions do not condone the arrest and conviction of people for crimes they have not yet committed, no matter how trusted the precog analysis. Some political systems advocate altering the variables of the situation to produce a different, more acceptable outcome. This can include issuing warnings, offering free counsel, or taking the suspect into “protective” custody for a temporary period. Some go so far as to enforce psychosurgery or restrictive limitations such as home confinement, restricted travel, or mandatory accompaniment by a robotic guardian. Many see these measures as simply giving the potential criminal warning that they are being watched, encouraging them to go about their crime in a more clandestine manner or switching to other criminal behavior. Instead, these jurisdictions pursue policies of aggressive surveillance and containment, monitoring the suspect and intervening before they can act, but only once they have crossed a legal threshold for culpability. The most restrictive authorities simply treat precog results as fait accompli, and move to capture and punish the potential offender as if they had committed the crime they were predicted to commit in the future.
It’s worth noting that while some asyncs are known to have the ability to detect other life forms, read thoughts, and so on, there is no known (or at least widespread) method of employing these on a large scale. The mental effort expended to exercise these sleights is usually too draining to engage in on a mass basis. They are, however, useful for specific targeted surveillance instances.
Likewise, there is no known way to identify an async in a crowd or to detect the use of async abilities in an area. This allows asyncs to operate largely unhindered and undetected, should their identity and nature remain unknown. The use of psi jamming devices can of course impair their abilities, but only over limited areas.