Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A Work of Advocacy

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  • HORansome, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    I don't think my idea works without some dose of future technology; I'm imagining a semi-automous roving camera which sends its data to a set of AIs that monitor the data-streams to ensure nothing gets modified along the way and can then be appealed to by both the prosecution and the defence.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    I like. Greg O'Connor - maybe not.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    My opinions on Greg O'Connor cannot be expressed online.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • John Darroch,

    I was in last nights film talking about police surveillance and harassment of activists. I thought the film was great at presenting the story as it was experienced by activists, perhaps the film could have been more explicit about this but I do not think it detracts from the value or impact of the film. The story's of those caught up in the raids have not been explored in this much detail before and few have taken a detailed look at how the raids fit into the portrayal of activists as terrorists.

    I think the suggestion of police agent provocateurs must be understood in the context of police informant Rob Gilchrist. Gilchrist incited many activists to carry out serious illegal acts whilst working for the police. This included providing training on how to use police scanners and running direct action training camps etc. The film makers are intimately acquainted with the story of Rob and I'm sure this fed into the films speculation around paid informants. For more info read http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr38-180c.htm and http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr38-180b.htm

    There is also a wealth of knowledge which I and the film makers are privy to which was covered in depositions hearings but is still suppressed. It was Errol and Abi's decision to release the film at this point but it is a decision I can understand given how long the project had already taken and that appeals could easily take several more years.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    who gets to be the custodian of the footage?

    Given that it will be the Police’s footage, I would assume they will. Provided the archival storage systems are robust (write-once, etc), and the procedures around retrieval of footage at the end of a shift don’t involve response officers, the integrity can be fairly easily confirmed. These are not hard problems to deal with, since they’re already done in other sectors and other jurisdictions.

    ETA: And if that's insufficient for you, then I would suggest that there's probably nothing the Police can do that will satisfy your suspicions.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye, in reply to George Darroch,

    I find Motorway Patrol too sad to watch. Every time they pull over an unwarranted, unregistered, or otherwise defective car belonging to some poor person unable to afford their duties to the state or safety, my heart sinks to the floor. I identify with the villains far to much.

    +1. I find it especially cringeworthy when the narrator tries really hard to paint a dramatic picture of the poor munter as a heinous criminal, recklessly endangering all those that encounter him with his 20kph shuddering fumesome exhaust.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    To be honest, why should the police be the immediate owners of the footage? It's not really the realms of Star Trek to have a blend of HORansome's ideas and what you are saying with the footage going to an independent authority. That way, there is never any question that it could have been tampered with.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to George Darroch,

    I suspect if the camera was on the other foot, we'd have a story of harsh and unreasonable police violently invading and destroying the house of a humble drug-dealer who provides the good herb to his community, and then taking him away from his loved family.

    I prefer Reno 911

    Rashomon 911?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Rashomon 911

    Or the The Wi... wait, I'm going to stop before we have one of those threads.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    At some point you have to trust the Police, though. The footage is in their care while it's in the car, and streaming video at a resolution sufficient to be useful is quite intensive so it's pretty much a given that there'll be in-car storage, especially when you try and account for issues of certainty as to the source of any given stream. Hundreds of streams is a lot of processing by the receiver, which is not much of an issue if you're just uploading files from disk-based storage but is quite the headache if you're capturing from live feeds.

    Even if the footage is uploaded to servers owned and operated by the IPCA at the end of the shift, there's still involvement from the Police somewhere along the way.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to HORansome,

    I don’t think my idea works without some dose of future technology; I’m imagining a semi-automous roving camera which sends its data to a set of AIs that monitor the data-streams to ensure nothing gets modified along the way and can then be appealed to by both the prosecution and the defence.

    Using AIs in the service of the public good is appealing in all sorts of contexts, but it opens up a whole can of worms: once an AI is smart enough - human enough, even - to do this kind of work, how do we ensure that it doesn't fall prey to other human foibles, corruption etc.? Imagine the conspiracy theories that might breed*. IMHO our only hope is to wait until AIs are so overwhelmingly superior to ourselves that we have no option but to turn the entire running of our lives over to them and hope for the best, Culture-style.

    * Oh I get it, you're advocating your own job security. Sneaky.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to John Darroch,

    I was in last nights film talking about police surveillance and harassment of activists. I thought the film was great at presenting the story as it was experienced by activists, perhaps the film could have been more explicit about this but I do not think it detracts from the value or impact of the film. The story’s of those caught up in the raids have not been explored in this much detail before and few have taken a detailed look at how the raids fit into the portrayal of activists as terrorists.

    Hi John. Thanks for taking the time to register and comment -- I appreciate it.

    I did take the film as the activists' story, and as a companion work to Valerie Morse's book The Day the Raids Came. But even there, I felt it was selective, as I've tried to explain.

    It's remarkable that both have come out before the trial, but, as you say, it's getting on for four years already.

    It did occur to me that the police obsession with animal rights activists isn't entirely groundless. In the late 80s/early 90s, staff at Auckland University's School of Medicine, and their families, were subject to real intimidation and persecution by two activists. It wasn't reported in the press, but it's the reason there are still security gates in the foyer of the school's main building.

    But that was just two people, one of them not even a New Zealander, and I don't believe it reflects on what you do, which I find admirable, even if I don't always agree with it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I guess they'll just have to beat people up outside the car then.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • John Darroch,

    Thanks, I do think your analysis of the film is pretty much spot on.

    I am very familiar with the history of the AR scene in NZ and there is a lot of very concerning stuff which has gone on. I have no problem with the police investigating criminal activity and prosecuting where the law has been broken. However my experience over the past decade has been that the police have been harassing and targeting protesters in a way which is grossly disproportionate to any offending. Most of what Rob, the Threat Assesment Unit and others have been interested in has at the most been public civil disobedience.

    Similarly I am concerned when activists begin playing with firearms no matter how innocent their intentions are. What last nights film highlighted so effectively though was that the police did not treat the defendants like any other New Zealander but instead tried to paint them as terrorists. I agree Val's book and Abi and Errol's film are incredibly selective in what they go into but I know that a full investigation can not be done until suppression orders have been lifted. I do hope both Val and Errol publish more material after this entire saga is over.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Someone Who Ought To Know tells me that the copy of the affidavit the Dominion Post based its Operation 8 stories on did not come from the police.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Hutchings, in reply to Rich Lock,

    If it remains as a film festival release, its probably not going to be to much of a concern, but it it becomes a major topic of conversation/gets released as a public torrented/youtubed then I think it will be a major concern.

    Given that prof Hodge commented after watching the film's two-minute trailer, that some of the documentary's content appeared to border on contempt of court.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/national/4839869/Terror-raid-films-timing-coincidental

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    isn’t entirely groundless

    I have a colleague who moved to Australia because after his car was splashed with acid the activists made it clear they knew where he lived and where his children went to school. Reasoned arguments were not on the agenda.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I have a colleague who moved to Australia because after his car was splashed with acid the activists made it clear they knew where he lived and where his children went to school. Reasoned arguments were not on the agenda.

    Ugh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The trailer.

    During the mid 2000s I had a fair bit to do with the animal rights movement, and agent provocateur/spy Rob Gilchrist had landed himself in the middle of it. At the time we didn't know about his intimate relationship with senior police, obviously, but uncovering his involvement made a lot of connections clear. He organised "camps" where he would train people in techniques that would allow them to carry out activities like rescuing chickens and locking onto bulldozers with greater skill, but also tried to make people model themselves on covert cell structures, from which they could act with impunity.

    There were police regularly following people round, and treating activists as a threat and through the lens of security. Even a simple march down Lambton Quay was often a very intense thing, with arrests and assaults from the police. In this context, people shut down from public organising - if your event is going to be disrupted and shut down before it happens, that's pretty inconvenient and upsetting - and started to organise in private. Retreating into what was assumed to be secure territory is in part a response to all of this.

    In this very weird environment, it's possible to see how versions of the truth get twisted. What we see is a result of this mess.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gary Hutchings,

    If it remains as a film festival release, its probably not going to be to much of a concern, but it it becomes a major topic of conversation/gets released as a public torrented/youtubed then I think it will be a major concern.

    It the Q&A an audience member asked the directors: “Do you hope this film will influence the trial?”

    I winced so hard I nearly fell off my seat.

    Fortunately, by happy accident or design, they didn’t answer the question.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Ah I can tell you that my Someone Who Ought to Know was in fact Phil Kitchin, who obtained the police affidavit on which the Dom Post based its Operation 8 stories.

    He asked me to note:

    … that I would not have told you what’s in my earlier e-mail had I not cleared with my source or sources that their anonymity would not be jeopardised by my saying truthfully that the information I obtained did not come from police. Some of the defendants lawyers have known that for about a year or so.

    Intriguing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Given that prof Hodge commented after watching the film's two-minute trailer, that some of the documentary's content appeared to border on contempt of court.

    I think we need to make a documentary investigating whether this film is part of an elaborate and fiendishly subtle disinformation campaign by Police agents provocateurs. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Someone Who Ought To Know tells me that the copy of the affidavit the Dominion Post based its Operation 8 stories on did not come from the police.

    From what I recall of things that revelation shits on a lot of the stories about how the cops leaked stuff to influence proceedings, because much of the vitriol being aimed at the police related to that affidavit having appeared in the media and the allegations/assumptions that it came from the police.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to James Butler,

    once an AI is smart enough – human enough, even – to do this kind of work, how do we ensure that it doesn’t fall prey to other human foibles, corruption etc.?

    Intelligence is a complex of skills, and the origin of consciousness is highly contentious. An AI that could do what is required here need not be even remotely human-like, nor even very “smart”; it would have a very narrow range of skills at which it would excel, and be utterly incapable of anything else (Q: Identify that face out of a database of hundreds of thousands. A: Certainly. Q: What is your favourite colour? A: Duh.). You might be thinking of HAL 9000 or Wintermute (I'm thinking of Tricia Helfer, but I do that a lot anyway), but the reality would be the equivalent of a low-functioning idiot savant that isn’t even conscious.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

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