Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Jane, stop this crazy thing!!!"

I used to have a friend that kept me abreast of all kinds of crazy new technologies. He was a follower of the tech-geek magazine Wire back in the day. I don't even know whether that publication still exists anymore, or if it was supplanted by some other advanced forum. Anyway, I used to make fun of all the outlandish tales he used to tell me. He definitely had a paranoid bent to his personality, and it would manifest itself in all sorts of doomsday scenarios that he claimed would make modern life hell. In fact, he was the guy that alerted me to the Y2K situation (remember that one?). He was ahead of the mainstream media on that story, and he told me about it in 1992. I had plenty of time to think on the possibilities. Unfortunately I'm not in touch with him anymore, and no one has really come along to take his place. For the last few years I have been (somewhat blissfully) in the dark about the insidious prospects of the New Age.

You have to understand that when it comes to technology and science, I am like a medieval peasant. I still believe in the utility of dousing rods and magical incantations. I am amazed that they can transmit images through wires, let alone send interpretable digital signals through the air. Every once in awhile I get the urge to smash my television to get at the little portable demons lurking inside with their sensationalism and bad news. I consider my car mechanic a great and enigmatic shaman. I am ripe for exploitation. That's why I generally try to avoid research about the latest developments in gadgetry. It's anxiety-inducing to ponder the ramifications of this stuff. Rather than be exposed to the terrifying reality, I put my faith in the goodwill of scientific planners. I realize that this a terribly muddle-headed strategy, but what can I do?

I can only imagine how my sole remaining grandparent feels about all of this. What must it be like to remember a time without television or computers? How confusing SPAM must be. She is adapting much better than I am. She constantly forwards me those viral jokes and images of fat middle-aged dudes washing their cars clad only in their underwear. I've warned her about it, but she maintains that it is funny. The Internet has been extraordinarily kind to her. Yet I wonder what her reaction would be if she read some of the future uses that our masters have planned for technology. We've seen such broad leaps forward that I'm afraid it's become too easy to trip and fall flat on our faces, only to become the stepping stones for the youngest generation.

Thanks to this guy's blog, I've become aware of a few of the more frightening future applications that engineers are working on. I've tried to process a little of the information that he's linked to, but I'm having a lot of difficulty wrapping my little brain around it. For instance- this site documents a new way to transmit information, using the weak energy field that surrounds the human body. I ask you... what the hell does it mean? We have become walking conduits in the service of transmitting information. I've always felt that the free flow of information is a good thing. But this has me reconsidering my position. Will we even know whether or not someone is piggybacking on us to look at nasty porn sites. The idea is enough to make me feel dirty all over. Still that seems the least of our problems. What else awaits us? Will the plot be contained on the surface of our skin? It appears not.

Extraordinary advances in nanotechnology have enabled companies to design "digestible bugs". Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like... tiny computers that can be ingested without the host's knowledge. These microscopic machines can transmit data about the conditions of our insides. While that may be promising for the development of new medical practices, it naturally evokes concerns about the preservation of our most elemental privacy. Perhaps there will be forces who employ such devices for shadowy ends. Do you trust that any information gathered from your core will be used to your benefit? Maybe it will be used to bludgeon you instead. Imagine a reality in which warfare is prosecuted on an individual level. Authorities (and interlopers) can divine your most hidden weaknesses and use them to control or destroy you. There will no longer be any sanctuary- you will live your entire life in public. Is this our 'Brave New World'?

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home