Overview

“Don't tell me from genetics. What've they got to do with it?" said Crowley. "Look at Satan. Created as an angel, grows up to be the Great Adversary. Hey, if you're going to go on about genetics, you might as well say the kid will grow up to be an angel. After all, his father was really big in Heaven in the old days. Saying he'll grow up to be a demon just because his dad _became_ one is like saying a mouse with its tail cut off will give birth to tailless mice. No. Upbringing is everything. Take it from me.”

Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Source: JSTOR, 2019

In the first unit, we explored how security and technology are interdependent variables. This Study Unit examines the meaning of technology and its relationship between criminals and terrorists. This Study Unit also assesses the use of technology by police and other security agencies in Asia.

A crime is committed every single second, argues Antonio L Rappa, in late modernity. According to the FBI in the US in 2015 alone, “A violent crime was committed every 26.3 seconds. A murder occurred every 33.5 minutes, a rape every 4.2 minutes, a robbery every 1.6 minutes, and an aggravated assault every 41.3 seconds. A property crime offence was committed every 3.9 seconds. A burglary offence occurred every 20.0 seconds, a larceny-theft every 5.5 seconds, and a motor vehicle theft every 44.6 seconds.” (FBI, 2016)

What constitutes a “crime”? Dukheim defined crime as “an act is criminal when it offends strong and well-defined goals of the collective.” (Schmaus, 1994) Broadly, while sociology as noted in the definition by Durkheim attributes crime due to poor socialisation in society, psychologists draw attributions to crime mainly due to biological and pathological criminogenic behaviours. “Criminogenic behaviours refer to characteristic cognitive styles or belief systems that tend to precede criminal activities and other forms of antisocial behaviour.” (Zeigler-Hill et al., 2017) Antonio Rappa explains that crime is dependent on the legal and political system and interpretation in the given territory or state. This means that one may have a system in place but it is the interpretation of the laws and regulations in the system that is important. For example, a person who throws a bomb at the Yemeni consulate in a democratic state may be interpreted as a criminal. However, in some African states, the tribal enemies of Yemen would interpret an attack on Yemeni diplomats or embassies as an act of heroism. Whilst perceptions dominate the moral value ascribed to an action, the legislative system of the country will determine if the action undertaken is a crime.

Source: JSTOR, 2019

In Amsterdam, one may consume marijuana, but in the United States, the possession and consumption of marijuana is a criminal offence. A third example: “caning” in Malaysia is considered barbaric by organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Right’s Watch. In March 2011, it was revealed that over 30,000 people were caned in Malaysia. In Singapore, caning is also meted out for criminals. But women and older persons are not caned. So why are there gender and age discrepancies? And why did Singapore and Malaysia continue to keep these outdated colonial laws in place? How does caning make a society more civilised? These questions have no correct or wrong answers. But they point towards the importance of the subjectivity in the interpretation of laws in states and territories. It is part of the human condition. Perceived moral justifications, differences in opinion of the use of medical marijuana or even the practice of judicial corporal punishment are a result of interpretations of ideals that a society sees value in preserving.

The problem of the human condition is that crime exists because of both sides of the nature and nurture debates. Technology presents opportunities to modify and moderate human behaviour according to Antonio L Rappa. The presence of the quantified self and the Internet of things has meant that now than ever before, digital technology is concomitantly creating unprecedented opportunities to encourage, enable and empower more sustainable behaviours. (Johnson, 2013) It promises to change aspects of behaviour that years of education, public education programme and parenting were not able to do. The pace is unprecedented and the potential for it to in turn impact behaviour once again is equally unprecedented as well.

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