Out-of-site-yet-everywhere seems to be the overall metaphor of the PlayStation 4 (PS4), as Sony described it. The PS4 (which Sony plans to sell by year's end) is not so much a machine as a network with games delivered from the cloud, games that can follow you as you move from the PS4 to a mobile device, and the ability to post video clips of your adventures or even broadcast entire games online.
"We're making it so your friends can look over your shoulder virtually and interact with you as you play," said David Perry, co-founder of Gaikai, a company that Sony bought to build itsnetwork.
But not only friends will be watching. Sony will. "The PlayStation network will get to know you by understanding your personal preferences and the preferences of your community and turn this knowledge into useful information that will enhance your gameplay," Perry said.
Every important technology has good and bad uses. Some of the upcoming games that Sony showcased for the PS4 explore, perhaps unwittingly, the darker side of omnipresent, omniscient networks similar to what Sony is building.
Suckerpunch's new game "inFAMOUS: Second Son" explores the surveillance state. "Right now, there are 4.2 milliondistributed all around Great Britain. That's one camera for every 14 citizens," said game director Nate Fox, in a dramatic introduction to the game. "It is hard to put your finger on what that sense of security is worth, but it is easy to say what it costs our freedom."
Like Great Britain, the PS4 will also have a vast network of cameras not one for every 14 citizens, but one for every console owner. At the presentation, Marc Cerny, head of the PlayStation hardware platform, showed a photo of a depth-sensing stereo camera for the PS4, designed to track the new Dualshock controller as it moves.
The danger in "Second Son" is that some individuals have developed super-human powers (a la "Heroes") that make them living weapons. They carry no traditional weapons and show no physical signs of danger rendering all the modern surveillance tech impotent.
But what if new security technology could go beyond the physical? What if it could read people's intentions and predict their next moves?