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Big Brother Is Watching
It's the end of your workday. You log off your computer and the network lets your boss know exactly how much progress you've made on that report that's due on Friday. Driving home, you receive a message on your PDA from your "smart” house: you need milk. The GPS system in your car tells you the best place to get it. Your son calls and says he's having dinner at his friend's house and you know where he is because the GPS device on the family car tells you. You remind him to take his asthma medication thanks to a message from your family's computerized personal health record, which also tells you it's time to schedule your next check-up. It's not the future any more.

Our days are filled with a vast array of technological conveniences from cell phones to global positioning systems, ATMs, computers, home security units, CCTV, traffic cams, magnetic strips on credit cards, buyers' clubs, IDs and licenses, created to make our lives easier and safer. Computers have simplified the organization and control of information, communication, transportation, military hardware, financial systems and power grids – the things that form the backbone of our daily existence. "These are all things we have a lot invested in,” says Shia LaBeouf, "they were built to make our lives easier.”

"However,” as LaBeouf points out, "not many people stop to think about how it all works.” Everyday, virtually unnoticed, our world is digitally recorded and stored: our image, name, social security number, shopping preferences, where we go in this world and the virtual world. Who we are, our likes, our dislikes, our secrets, what we do and what we don't do, is all part of a new digital landscape. Our faces, our eyes, our voices, our gaits are all capable of being measured, digitized, recorded and stored for tracking. And as computer power and storage capacity increases, so does the possibility to control it all.

"Everything that we're doing in this movie,” says Kurtzman, "in one way or another reflects the world we live in.”

The question the film asks is: What if…? What if someone discovered the means to access and utilize all that information, all that technology? What if it was used against you?

The premise at the center of this nightmare scenario of innocent people framed and hunted is certainly closer than it was when the idea first came to Spielberg. In the years since he conceived the idea for the film, technology has grown exponentially. A world where you are watched, your movements tracked, recorded and filed, has moved from science fiction to reality. "What's incredible about this,” explains LaBeouf, "is the fact that Steven Spielberg had the foresight to see this happening almost ten years ago.”

As Kurtzman points out, innovation is accelerating so quickly that in the time he and producer Roberto Orci have been working on the screenplay the premise has moved much closer to reality. "What Steven told us was that at the time he conceived of the idea it would have been science fiction,” says Kurtzman, "it would've stretched beyond plausibility. And what's really exciting about doing it now is that it isn't sci-fi anymore. Technology is changing so rapidly, it's actually changed in our favor over the course of the last two years. Because every morning we wake up, everything becomes more and more possible.”

What is most terrifying about whoever is controlling Jerry and Rachel is their ability to orchestrate the manipulation of a sea of seemingly benign technologies. Monaghan's interest in the project was piqued by this frightening prospect of everyday technology used as a weapon. "It takes care of us and we depend on it so much,” she says. "The idea of it actually turning on us, having it used against us, I found that really terrifying – and that's one of the things that really intrigued me when I r


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