Since the beginnings of civilization eyewitness reports have been presented as evidence in public proceedings. All lawyers know that the most unreliable evidence in every trial is an eyewitness report, but eyewitnesses continue to be the basis for many criminal and civil cases because jurors believe eyewitnesses. Jurors, lawyers and judges think, erroneously, that they can tell if a witness is lying. Moreover the eyewitness may be telling the truth as he experienced it, but what he thinks he saw, is not what happened.
We only see what we think is there and discard the other visual information. It's basic biology, the human brain can't possibly use all the information coming through the optic nerve. We would overload and basically go nuts. So the brain only "keeps" what it thinks is useful to your survival. All of this happens in milliseconds.
Too Many Bits?Everyone or almost everyone looks for the replay in football so see if the right call was made. We are learning not to trust human eyes and to trust digital "eyes".
Let's look at this as a computer throughput issue. This data is based on about 150 studies  of the Brain and its ability to process data from the senses:
- Your Brain is fed about 11 Million Bits Per Second of raw data to unconscious mind from all of your senses.
- Your conscious mind can not exceed 40 Bits Per Second of information! Most of the time, the conscious mind is dealing with 16 Bits Per Second.
In a fast moving stressful event like a shooting you need several eyewitnesses to form an accurate reconstruction of the event.
Although a digital video or photo may reveal more information than a human can, you might still need 2 or more cameras viewing the event at different positions to get accurate information.
That bedrock of legal devices, the eyewitness. is rapidly being crushed by digital video and photography.
Digital video and photography technology is rapidly accelerating. Very soon UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or drones, all of them with some kind of video camera, will be a common sight. That's if you look up and happen to realize that tiny dot in the sky is a UAV.
The ubiquity of cameras might be the most significant development in law in the 21st Century. A close second might be the digital trail that is now a part of our lives.
Our legal system moves slowly and deliberately.
Present day law is an ancient paper and pen system in a digital world. If you need evidence of that just look at the cases of paper attorneys bring to trials and hearings. Somehow, our legal system needs to do some catching up.
The New York Times
Glare of Video Is Shifting Public’s View of Police