I just read up on the latest developments in the House of Google (Der Spiegel 10 2014) and now, I’m staring into the darkness outside of the train I’m on.
Mostly, my thoughts are circulating around huge, floating Internet balloons in the stratosphere, attacking robodogs and a gigantic Matrix 3-like entity formed by thousands of CPUs contemplating the end of death. And above all this, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are dancing on top of Mount Everest and singing the Future song.
In case, you’re wondering, the Future song goes someting like this:
Just, you know, replace the lyrics.
But seriously, it’s amazing that a company founded sixteen years ago is nowadays seen as the number 1 contender for the First Real Life Skynet Award. Without hyperbole, we can say that Brin and Page are the men who tamed the Internet and are now at the very top of the Silicon Valley Revolution, which will impact and change our lives just as much as the Industrial and Electric Revolution changed the lives before ours. It’s actually funny how more and more people start to realize that science fiction may in fact be science happening-right-now. If you’re having a hard time agreeing to this, just consider the following:
Self-driving cars: check
Sexy, female computer voices: check
trendy (?) cyber glasses: check
quantum computers: both check and no check
Fact is, Technology with a big T is making such fast progress that it doesn’t seem so inconceivable that half the jobs young people are training for nowadays will be performed by machines twenty years from now, Even art may die once computers crack the algorithm behind Artsy Thinks. Not possible? Easily.
A song composed and sung by AI? On the horizon
A film created in and directed by CGI? On the horizon
A novel written by a CPU?`On the horizon
None of these scenarios are a stretch anymore.
So what happened? Well, in large part, although it needed a prepared ground, of course, Google happened. But you can read the article on this specific subject yourselves.
What interests me, are the following questions: Where do we imagine we’re going with all this? What happens to a world where 90% of tasks are executed by CPUs? Where do the people go? How do they occupy themselves? And what about capitalism? And, most of all, because it comes always down to this, where lies the power? In hands of flesh and blood? Or … elsewhere? Will Big Tech maintain control of its creations or will it devour itself along with the rest of us like an imploding star?
I think we have arrived at a very interesting point in history, a point where humans realize just how much technology has written their history in the past and how much more it will do so in the near future. Literally write it. As in narrate. As in create and control.
Google says innovation and progress are good. But the problem with progress nowadays unlike in previous centuries is that it is both made and defined by the same entity. What other power might usurp Google? And how benevolent will it be? Does anyone of us common mortals actually have a say? Because our elected representatives sure don’t.
The train keeps gliding through the night. Occasional points of light flash by, interrupting long intervals of darkness.
I’m brooding and brooding and brooding.