It’s the Camera! A Special One: The Smartboxing of Image Processing Algorithms and their Uncertainties in Media Representations of Surveillance Technology

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Christoph Musik

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of media articles and publicly available documents on one of Austria’s first nationwide surveillance systems in operation that makes use of image processing, pattern recognition technology: the “Automatic Toll Sticker Checks” on Austrian motorways. A recurring narrative makes the camera, not the silent image processing algorithms (IPAs), the centre of attention. IPAs and their inevitable uncertainties are completely disregarded and “smartboxed” in favour of the special camera that appears as magic technology. As such, the ready-made smart box is not contested at all. Instead, its economic success and standing as a moral agent is emphasised.

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