Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Trickster Technology

I'm reading "WE" by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a dystopian (some say the first) novel set in the One State of the great Benefactor. There are no individuals, only numbers. Life is mathematically precise, regulated by a collective schedule. D-503, architect of the Integral, a spaceship intended to take totalitarian bliss to other worlds, writes a diary intended for those who encounter his ship. In the days preceding the launch, D-503 makes two crucial, life-changing discoveries: (1) he discovers love, an emotion thought to be efficiently subdued by One State and (2) the impending subjucation of IMAGINATION, the key step in keeping humans yoked to the beneficent control of reason.

This great sci-fi novel was written at the beginning of the 20th century. It is as relevant today, at the beginning of the 21st century, as it was back in the day. So far, it has alerted me to worrisome trends in our own technologically shaped society.

All of the seeds of remote control have been planted: First there is wireless technology, the capability of communicating anywhere, anytime, any place. Second, there is the ubiquity and increasing utility of the cellular telephone. For many people the cell phone is already their central information and communication hub. Third, there is nano technology, the miniaturization of everything. And fourth, there is biotechnology, the growing science of healing, replicating, implanting and modifying the human body.

Combine them and you have the recipe for benevolent control. Of course, technology has not yet solved the problems of integrating all four elements of the system, but give science ten to twenty years and my predicted outcome is plausible.

So what would this biocyber nanoplant look like? Well, it would be tiny, no more than the size of the implantable pet ID chips we have today. But the biocyber chip would be designed to interact with our cerebral cortex with a yet-to-be-designed electro-neural interface that translates electron-based signals into biotransmitteed data. It would have audio, visual and subliminal capabilities, creating not only a "theatre of the mind," but a link to the subconscious brain as well.

When the biocyber nanoplant becomes reality, the potential for mind control becomes dangerously real. Until then, enjoy the mobility of your cell phone with all of its entertainment options, maximize your productivity with your wi-fi connectivity and marvel at how "nano" your electronic companions are becoming. Oh, and the next time you don your ear buds with surround-sound music processing, imagine a day when such a sound will emanate from your brain with no apparent source whatsoever.

Mind-boggling...or should we say mind-blowing?



Post a Comment

<< Home