Life Imitates Orwell...

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

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.