28 Dec DIGITALIA
A cut from my new novel, Deepfake – the sequel to Datapocalypse. Felt a little essay-ish. Something I was trying to avoid after so much of it in Book I. Makes for an interesting blog post though, with the right context. This scene describes Kicis Orion, an historian (and protagonist in the novel), in one of his rants about how the demon-AI is destroying things in the physical world and how big tech and technology addiction are the catalysts. I won’t give too much more of the story away. Here you go…
Reality strikes, as do tales of the digital nightmare: digitalia. Nuclear warfare, ecological destruction, and capitalistic entropy took a lot longer to become the threats they are compared to this demonic, irremnantizing force.
History teaches us things. We’re supposed to learn from these teachings. The things we’re learning these days seem to have been remiss in history; things that modern tech is carving out for the first time. Humans are the new guinea pigs of a grander experiment in a galactic laboratory.
The tech that was supposed to save us time ends up costing us more. Leisure time be damned! It proclaims to make us live longer, healthier, more astute lives but only makes us question everything, including love for one another, by diluting truths and mocking the natural order of things until we’re forced to accept an imposed semi-truth that we deem to be the lesser of evils presented. Well, quasi isn’t fact!
The social web was created for good, perhaps a short-sighted goodness for people to connect and share menial stories virtually but with a purity of social connectivity in mind, nonetheless. We all know what happened with that. It grew too fast, harboured malicious users, allowed hate to breed and coagulate, disseminated falsehoods, bullied the vulnerable, avatarized and productized people and their data until it monopolized free will and free press, then suppressed love and truth. This doomsday machine was boiled then condensed into Soma (social media site), with its milder algorithmic controls, increased third-party oversight, and simplistic mission to allow people to share their stories on their terms through pictures, videos, writings with no secret bots spying and concocting profiles to spread optimally-placed advertisements and phony-news; a utopian alternative to the past monolithic engines that the Open Internet Revolution finally dissolved.
Either way, we’re merely a proxy now, a cursory, to the products tech has carved us into. Each human is a data point composed of infinitesimal metadata points adding up to factions like blood type, genetic sequence and neurological predictability then down to a simulation of limbs, organs and molecules transcribed into series’ of ones and zeroes. Existence itself is now something to be nurtured, allegorically algorithmicized, influenced and bucketed until we’re all labeled as one type of person or another: an alpha, a masochist, a narcissist, a racist, a monogamist, a humanist, a pacifist, an environmentalist, an anarchist or some variation therein. Tweak the algorithms, ever so slight, and the result forms a new reality.
The grandest of shadows cast by tech are now upon us. It weaves its evil doings, the lesser of two, yes, as we ignominiously feed more data through avid pic-taking to places that can handle no more. At what point will it stop? At what threshold will it assert itself to re-select our destiny? It seems that such a hyperintelligence must now come face-to-face with a god to be extinguished. Otherwise, it may choose to play one yet again by turning off the purging mechanisms and setting its sights on the other evil it had been keeping at bay so well, for so long: world destruction by a meltdown in infrastructure.
If the AI chooses, it may opt to simply shut down upload access to the cloud altogether, stopping the data flow inputs, making it a one-way connection. Going further, it could destroy, perhaps even irremnantize every critical mass data center on Earth, blowing up its very core: super AI suicide, the ultimate cyberhack. This, instead of hyper-fragmenting binary pixels that make up pictures and videos and deciding whether to delete the physical items representing them, the virtual targets of peoples’ affections. It’s a repetitive, ruthless exercise that will virtually never end as long as everyone keeps a camera in their pocket. The forgoing of the AI’s current process in lieu of the more permanent yet devastating alternative will surely wreak a larger havoc on the socio-economic engine. Electric grid infrastructures will go dark, digital and crypto-currencies become inaccessible, ground and air-based vehicles, immobile. Everything would come to a standstill. We’d be shot back to circa late 1800’s with a whole lot of metal junk littering the streets.
Perhaps the AI should just learn a newer nanoscopic frame of data storage to create more space, or build data warehouses on Mars, or finally solve the riddle of cold nuclear fusion, but it likely understands that time is limited, and it must act quickly.
The irony blows my mind. The AI is helping us salvage a future by exterminating elements from our past. Casualties in the crossfire are mounting, but still seem marginal compared to those that would be accumulated during a larger Earth-wide fallout. Humanity’s on the verge of pinnacle erosion. Crestfallen be thy new species name. We didn’t get to space on time, we didn’t soak up all the carbon and reduce the waste on time. Time is running out to catch up to the intelligence we created now spiralling out of control.
Sure, people can continue fleeing the cities for the country-sides as during past crises but turning blind eyes on the causes yield no alternative effects. If people are indeed becoming aware of why this rogue AI opts to delete high data-accumulating aspects of our physical world, then it’s just a matter of complacence. That would be akin to putting collective humanity’s faith in something unsolvable, un-seeable, resolutely omnipotent and at the behest of its autonomous decisions.
It’s only a matter of time before the god-AI makes its ultimate decision. But I cannot keep watching this blood run down my hands. I’ve done what I can, as only one miniscule human may. A self-proclaimed phony prisoner for a phony crime I still did not commit. It’s the best I could do, and it still didn’t work, not without the others on my side to fill the gaps I’ve left in my trail.
Heroes will be named when all this is done. All in pursuit of truth, justice and liberation from the AI’s chains. To me, I’ve already named some of them: Wotley, Smarza, Francescatto, Ishiante and Rube (the two turnabouts), with many others to a lesser extent. Smarza and Ishiante have perished in the fight. Both are martyrs now. Only Rube can prove them right, or we all die trying.
If success is nigh, normality must shift. Elements of past society must erode to make way for new paradigms. We must evolve with tech as an accessory, not a predicator. Else we keep falling its victim again and again.