Look Out Everybody! Here Comes the Future!

Fast Company has just posted the kind of panic article I ain’t seen since, oh, Jack Dempsey’s article, “I Can Whip Any Mechanical Robot“. It refers to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, even. And the company that they’re freeeeakin’ out about? Frog Design. The guys who designed the Macintosh. (And the Frollerskate.)

The article also misses some important technical aspects: the dating thing is just like current online dating, only you’re actually there with the person. The fast food example doesn’t need to tell anyone but you the information — the only public information is the nutritional value of the food. That’s an input-only situation. And the jacket-oggling situation both works against the market failure of capitalism by giving more perfect information to the consumer and keeps the wearer unperturbed. And all the computer’s doing is recognizing where the consumer can get the jacket, not where the wearer got it, or how much she paid, or what color underwear she’s got on under it.

The article closes by somehow relating this AR, data-rich environment to HAL 9000. The issue with HAL, if you’ll recall, was not that the computer had too much information about everybody. It’s that he was in the service of insanely sui/genocidal plutocratic idealogues. To be sure, there are privacy concerns. But my biggest privacy concerns are about those with power who don’t share. Not the people around us who do.

If you want to see Frog’s original post without the freakouts, it’s over here.

Also, it just occurred to me: this is how Academics see the world(s). Whuffies and all.

0 thoughts on “Look Out Everybody! Here Comes the Future!”

  1. This is pretty standard Idealist generation paranoia about future moral and spiritual bankruptcy. And nonspecific fear about technology and the future is one of the easiest modes of hack journalism to crank out when you’re hung over – you rewrite your subject’s PR in a slightly ominous tone, reference a science fiction movie 75% of your audience is likely to have seen in which something bad happens that is vaguely related to your subject, and poof! You can send that bitch off to the copy desk and break for lunch early.

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