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Illustration of a waiting room, in gridded snatches of imagery: an upper-case letter, a pixelated number board, a water cooler, a hummingbird, an airplane glimpsed out a window.
Mexico’s National Registry of Disappeared and Missing Persons lists more than 90,000 disappeared or missing persons, and many advocates and researchers argue that the list represents a significant undercount. In the face of this catastrophe of disappearances, could surveillance technology help to protect the vulnerable? If so, can we balance state power over surveillance systems with privacy rights? Can we be sure that the surveillance apparatus isn't used to target activists and squash dissent? Is it hopeless to ask that a ubiquitous surveillance system also be transparent and democratically accountable?

In "The Wait," award-winning fiction author and chemist Andrea Chapela explores these questions and more through a story about a stultifying bureaucracy that grows up around technology, and the vexing questions that remain when people fall through, or exploit, gaps in a surveillance system. The story was translated by Emma Törzs.
Read "The Wait"
Response by science + technology researcher Vivette García-Deister
"The Wait" is part of Future Tense Fiction, a series from the Center for Science and the Imagination and Future Tense about how technology and science will change our lives. Look for a new story every month!

Copyright © 2021 Center for Science and the Imagination, All rights reserved.

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