Cameras are now extremely cheap. Even surveillance cameras with motors for pan/tilt/focus/zoom and decent lenses are under a grand. The network to interconnect them has also plummeted in price, and it is now possible to have networks with thousands or millions of digital surveillance cameras sharing the same set of wiring. (you’d use a few layers of routers and switches and data compression and optical fibers for the main trunk lines)
None of this was technically possible, say, 25 years ago.
GPS is now ubiquitous and cheap, and, again, it would be practical for every single citizen to be forced to carry a phone or something with firmware that reports the position of that phone every minute or so via wireless data.
I’m not saying that the total surveillance state is a good idea. Quite the contrary. But, could it be done?
Let’s say you had 1 in every 10 Americans hired to watch the other 9. This is the kind of job almost anyone could do. Each person would have 9 people they are “assigned” to, and they would have to write up a report that would be full of automated keywords and macros and stuff to describe what each of the people they are watching is doing.
Most people are extremely repetitive in their daily habits, and spend a lot of time in the same places. So, I think this would be a pretty easy task. The surveillance worker would be able to fastforward past activities that aren’t likely to be seditious - every hour the worker spends in his cubicle working, or browsing time wasting websites on a government approved whitelist, or eating, etc is time you can skip through. Software could automatically flag regions of the surveillance records that actually have conversations and such that might contain suspicious activity.
Then, of course, you have to watch the watchers. So for every watcher, you also need someone to watch them. Perhaps 1 watcher watcher for every 10 watchers. And so on in an infinite series, until you get down to a ring at the top of the pyamid of like 1 person who watches someone else who watches a third person or something.
Could it be done? I mean, is there enough material resources to actually build all these cameras and hire all these people and train them and so on? How would you respond in an efficient manner when someone drops off the grid? Dogs and troops and helicopters are expensive. Can’t deploy them every time.