This is Panoptica.

I have been struggling with a major plot hole in Panoptica. Our hero is accidentally rescued on his way to Retirement and finds a whole world of people outside his controlled environment.

How? Why? Why would the government restrict themselves to absolute control in just one area?

Answer: they don’t. There are many such areas, and the ‘free’ (as in, the excluded) live in the wastelands between them. The elite live elsewhere. Panoptica is a total control zone.

They already exist. Not here.

Not yet.

UPDATE: Well, not quite yet.


13 thoughts on “This is Panoptica.

  1. Sounds a bit like Ira Levin’s ‘ This Perfect Day’ another old sf book that reminds me of what is happening is ‘ Ring Around The Sun’ I used to read a lot of sf and it seems a lot of them were prophetic. Time for Arthur C Clarkes ‘ Childhood’s End’ I think !


  2. re the Daily Wail. If I’m still around at that future date (it will happen, the EUGalileo satellite system will be ready and waiting), it might just tempt me out of retirement to decode the ‘device’ and build my own fuck-off one. No payment looked for, just for fun and principle.


    • It’s one of those car parts that is begging for the ‘oops’ moment with the dropped spanner….

      I used to have a Fiesta that was covered with the scars of those moments. Didn;t matter, it was worthless anyway. I gave up on the bodywork and coated the whole thing with black Hammerite. Looked like it had melted.


  3. Oh dearie me, looks like these muppets have learned absolutely nothing during the few decades that the Internet (and more particularly, the scum who inhabit it) has existed. When building a secure system, it is not how it works that matters but how it fails or can be made to fail.

    If you introduce into all vehicles a remote off switch, then you are introducing a vulnerability. This vulnerability will presumably be addressable via a look-up table keyed by vehicle registration number initially, which is the first point of failure. A copper behind a stolen car only has the registration number to go on; false plates will ensure that a completely different vehicle will get the shutdown signal, and the thieves will continue on their merry way.

    Second point of failure is how the device receives its instructions; is the antenna readily removable? If so, this will be the first port of call for any car thief. If this is reinforced by making cars only startable if they can see a Galileo signal, then much mayhem could be caused by setting up a nice, powerful jamming signal running off local mains. One jammer, powered from, say, a broken-into comms cabinet somewhere, could swamp the Galileo signal over a huge area. Doing so would convince huge numbers of people that the system was useless, and that their government was composed of incompetent cowards.

    Third point of failure is how secure the off switching mechanism is. It is well to remember here that GSM encryption has already been cracked; a colourbook look-up table is needed to trivially exploit it, but this is also reasonably easy to construct. Much fun could be had by putting up an ANPR camera on a motorway gantry, spotting new cars with the system fitted and broadcasting stop signals to them. Instant motorway carnage; just the thing for the budding techno-Jihadi!

    Fourth point of failure is the central database; how easily corrupted is it, and how easily can fake entries be inserted? This isn’t just a technical problem; corrupting the officials running it is also a distinct possibility, as they cannot be paid enough to prevent a bribe of a few thousand in cash from being a temptation.

    Fifth point of failure is the device its self; if it can readily be substituted for one which when queried replies “Yes, everything working here” yet does nothing, then that too is a problem.

    All in all, this is a spectacularly shite idea. Let us hope this is implemented in somewhere like France or Germany, so that the essential stupidity can be properly explored by a population that already hates the Eurocrats but which is too deeply enmeshed to easily break free…


    • What if you disabled the antenna but wired in a fake Galileo signal generator that made the thing think it’s getting a signal? I’ll bet that’s not too hard to do.

      Even if they incorporate a time element – a ‘blip’ at definite intervals – all you need do is have your interpreter device receive a real signal, pass on the ‘blip’ and block any other instruction. Again, this sort of thing is what A level physics class (lunchtime electronic tinkering club) and a few reads of electronics magazines would enable you to do. Well, back in the old days when they taught kids useful stuff.

      It would also mean that at MOT, when they test the system, the interpreter device will report that it’s receiving the signal just fine. It just won;t mention that it’s not doing anything with it. Or, you just need a switch to bypass the interpreter so the MOT mob can check the engine shuts down when it’s told to.

      None of this would be impossible, it won’t even be difficult, although hiding it might be. Oh hell, in something the size of a car you can hide a lot of little electronics.

      No wonder they’ve wrecked education. If they did this in the seventies there wouldn’t be a single working module within a week.


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