How do you watch HBO’s Westworld? And I am talking Season 3. Or Amazon’s hit, The Handmaid’s Tale? Do you just binge and veg out or are you like me, and see how easily we could, and are, slipping into these worlds? After watching shows like this I often find myself reflecting back on George Orwell’s 1984. And yes, the cliff notes from high school. It proves more eerily prophetic with each passing year. This Season, I fear, the writers of Westworld are almost scripting our future lives. You may not have caught it, but it is all in there. And if you thought the Handmaid’s vision of a Future Society could not happen, do you still think that way now? Or like me, see how it could happen in a matter of days or months, not years and we would all line up like sheep.
I don’t want this to be a terrifying, dystopian, conspiratorial crazy rant. I want you to think and see with your own eyes. Not what you are told, and by the way, I am not a “the media is out to get you” guy, or even the government, for that matter. Its just humanity can’t seem to help itself. Life imitates art and history loves to repeat itself. So now, throw in some robots, AI Technology and our worse impulses and allow me to circle back. I am beginning to think that the writers of these hit shows may be hailed as the great profits of some future world religion. I hope I am wrong, but they certainly all envision a similar world, we seem desperate to manifest.
I would like to illustrate a point using known science fiction writers of the past. First, let’s look at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She introduced the scientific plausibility of reanimating body parts to the shock and horror of the world in 1818. As you know that it is now routine to use cadaver-donated tissues and organs in today’s medicine. Jules Verne and HG Wells each made several futuristic predictions & were correct, more often than not. Air & Space Travel, Tanks, Atomic Bombs, Satellite TV and the Internet all were predicted almost a century beforehand. Several of the inventions Victor Appleton predicted in his Tom Swift Series of Early 20th Century books are also prophetic. TOM SWIFT AND HIS PHOTO TELEPHONE (1914) for example. I think I have one of those.
So, let me get back to Westworld, Season 3, and not much of a spoiler alert here, but an observation. A supercomputer that knows everything about everyone was created and has been running this world based on predictions, probability and certainty for some time. Based on statistical analysis, this supercomputer can predict just about everything including an individuals fate. There was a commentary that really perked up my ears. To paraphrase, before there was regulation and oversight, people freely, but somewhat unknowingly, gave all their private information to this mainframe. Years later, this supercomputer had everything is needed. So basically, it’s your Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and / or Facebook and they all say thank you…. you have already have done this step. And before you say no, yes you have. That is the fine print on your phone agreements, every piece of software and every single app you ever downloaded.
And let us talk about misplaced angst and worry. How many of us fear The Man, The Government, The CIA, etc. And what they know about us, etc. I want you to know, Google, Amazon & Facebook know a lot more about you than them. In fact, The US Department of Defense recently awarded a $10 billion cloud contract to Microsoft to update their systems. If you know anything about Government Computers, they tend to be years behind. So again, I am willing to bet the “others” know more about you and you told them everything they wanted to know for free. And in the case of many of them, you paid them too.
And as with all things, it did not start out with evil intent. This data originally was captured for marketing purposes. They just wanted to know, what you liked and wanted more of. The goal was to use this data to discover how to best feed us. Our wants and our needs, as we are consumers and have insatiable appetites. And can I say, big data is awesome. It can save companies millions & billions in revenue on wasted ad dollars. They do not want to market to you, things you don’t want. I know you still get junk mail, but they really don’t want that waste either. That is how all this data collection began.....harmless, with good intentions and fairly noble. Just creating efficiencies. I am going to skip over the Privacy issues, all the rights you gave away and show you the "other" use...and how we get to Westworld.
Lets use an insurance company. They want to know all about you too. It used to just be things like.... Do you smoke? or Do you have a parent that died of heart disease, cancer, etc.?.... You know the drill. And, what you told them, and what they could ask, was regulated by the government, for the most part. But now, let’s see when it’s “public” or “salable” big data because you gave away rights with a mouse click. Let’s have a closer look at your ancestry data, you signed up and filled out all the forms…let’s see your lifestyle choices, all there on Facebook for the world to see and you accepted their terms… and let’s throw in your google search history and some desktop cookies….Your Life Insurance rate just went way up...you are high risk and can I say, terrifying. So....Health Insurance…. not for you. Also, I am not going to hire you, and you better not run for office!
Again…. not trying to scare you. This is a tame example of the usage of your data. Let me show how it works to manipulate you. If I want to stir you up? I just use a “bot” to post some hateful political comment on your site, because I know what will get a rise out of you....after-all, I used A.I. to read all of your past comments. I am going to send you a completely fabricated story too....and I know you will spread it to all of your like minded friends. Getting them just as worked up. And by the time it worms its way around the world it will become "TRUE." Let’s see…I want you to buy more Toilet Paper? I’ll tell you there is none. I want you to come in and be euthanized? I strongly suggest you come on in for your Covid 19 Vaccine before you can go back to work. I already have you trained for your flu shot. Again, see where a pandemic, "quarantine paranoid stress brain" can lead you? Did I say I was not trying to scare you? Seriously, I am not. Just trying to jolt you awake a bit. The facts are, we are here. So where do we go now?
We have given away our information & privacy. We continue to give away our freedoms freely, every time we are told we should. After all, I want to be a good patriot and if that means giving away all my rights, okay...I won't notice the bait and switch anyway. Sounds like Nationalism, and it really is... but after-all, we must watch out for, and be protected from, the Unseen Enemy. You know....the terrorist, the virus and what ever else is lurking around the corner. The "stay home and stay safe" signs you now see everywhere are ripped right out of the pages of several Post-Apocalyptic & Futuristic Sci Fiction books. They just need to say Stay Home, Stay Safe and "Conform" to be from the movie, They Live. That's a personal favorite of mine and a John Carpenter Film where Aliens have secretly taken over the world. But we do...we conform so often…and with noble intentions, on our behalf. We do it for the good of our country, our neighbors and our love ones. But is that why we are asked to conform? We are a kind and docile species for the most part, but there are several out there, that are not. The wolves, and if you give them the levers of power, you will now see where this can all lead. And so easily, just watch a movie or read a book. Sounds crazy, I know, but these writers are telling you, warning you and laying out all the scenarios. Like great chess masters that see all the moves. Its not all set in stone, just the possible scenarios, but boy are they playing out. Do you want a Westworld, 1984, or The Handmaid’s Tale? I don’t…I want my favorite series of books from my childhood? The Choose Your Own Adventure Series.
I want to end this post soon, as it may prove to have been my most depressing to date, but If you know me, that is not my intention at all. It’s just to inform you. So, I have a question for you. If I told you one year ago today, you’d be told to stay home for an uncertain amount of time, have no income other than $1200 in government cheese, there would be no concerts, no baseball, you couldn’t eat out in a restaurant, and not because you are broke….would you believe me? How quick did this happen to you?
So, why am I not freaking out. I have Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus. The internet is up and my phone works. But, how quick could that be taken away and then what? I kind of feel like that’s our Valium. What would the Matrix we are currently living in look like if you took away our technology dopamine? And if that happened and there was an uprising or panic, would you know? You would not unless it was right in front of your house. Because in this scenario, you are home with no landline, no cellphone, no internet…no CB or Ham Radio, no Terrestrial Radio. You are blind to it all. So how we only have ourselves to blame? As a society, we gave all of that away decades ago.
We gave away or freedom for Nationalism, our souls for a Tax Cut and now that the Party is over, we all became Socialists hypocrites. And I am still waiting for mine. I hear that $1200 check is in the mail. And yes, we are all hypocrites. So, look in the mirror…. all of you…. anyone that calls someone a socialist, ever again, that gets an Unemployment Check, a PPP loan, has their business saved by the Government, and cashed their IRS check, etc.…look in the mirror, enjoy your socialism. And, I am not saying anything is wrong with it. I am saying how quickly everything can change, and in an instant. And to those that said, “We could never forgive all student loan debt in the US.” BTW…. that is $1.59 Trillion today. The whole nut. Now just sounds like the stroke of a pen. You see, the things we can do when the chips are down are amazing, but the ridiculous things we do when faced with “The Unseen Enemy”? Crazy…Thank You Orwell.
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