Tag Archives | dystopia

Aldous Huxley Describes The Ultimate Revolution

If we were in fact drawing closer to the scenario he describes fifty years ago, what would the drug in question be?

Aldous Huxley, speaking at U.C. Berkeley in 1962, outlines his vision for the ‘ultimate revolution’, a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and will pose little opposition to the ‘ruling oligarchy’, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book, “Brave New World,” to George Orwell’s “1984″ and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation.

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears…they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

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Using Smart Gadgets As Tools Of Social Control

How devices will soon begin pressuring us to “fix” our behavior. Via the Wall Street Journal, Evgeny Morozov writes:

Many smart technologies are heading in a disturbing direction. A number of thinkers in Silicon Valley see these technologies as a way not just to give consumers new products that they want but to push them to behave better. The central idea is clear: social engineering disguised as product engineering.

Last week in Singapore, Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette restated Google’s notion that the world is a “broken” place whose problems, from traffic jams to inconvenient shopping experiences to excessive energy use, can be solved by technology. The futurist and game designer Jane McGonigal, a favorite of the TED crowd, also likes to talk about how “reality is broken” but can be fixed by making the real world more like a videogame, with points for doing good.

Insurance companies already offer significant discounts to drivers who agree to install smart sensors in order to monitor their driving habits.

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Has The Dystopian Singularity Already Occurred, In The Form Of Corporations?

The prime futurist fear is that humanity will create some advanced technology with an ostensibly positive purpose, but it will buck our control and undo the world as it pursues some twisted version of the ends it was programmed to achieve. Quiet Babylon writes that this artificially-sentient oppressor has already arrived:

One of my favorite recurring tropes of AI speculation/singulatarian deep time thinking is meditations on how an evil AI might destroy us.

Here’s an example: The scenario imagined is where there is a button that humans push if the AI gets an answer right and the AI wants to get a lot of button presses, and eventually it realizes that the best way to get button presses is to kill all the humans and institute a rapid fire button-pressing regime.

You would have this thing that behaves really well, until it has enough power to create a technology that gives it a decisive advantage — and then it would take that advantage and start doing what it wants to in the world.

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NEXT NATURE

I’ve been following this website for a while now. I heard of it through science fiction writer and futurist Bruce Sterling. I think many disinfonauts would enjoy it as well. The basic premise is that while nature becomes culture ( picture a wilderness area being cleared and turned into a subdivision) culture also eventually becomes nature (picture the Exclusion zone of Chernobyl becoming a wilderness again, or urban areas becoming habitats for wild animals) Man-made systems, seeking to simplify nature, often become overly complex and devolve back in to chaos:

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Verizon Files Patent For Cable Box That Watches You As You Watch Television

Another reason not to own a TV, via Yahoo! News:

A Verizon patent idea envisions spying on TV viewers for the sake of serving up related ads. For instance, a couple snuggling in front of the TV could end up getting bombarded by commercials for romantic vacations, flowers or even birth control. The system could also detect a person’s mood or identify objects such as pets, soft drink cans or a bag of chips in a person’s hand, and room decorations or furniture.

Such a patent idea would turn TV set-top boxes into spy boxes with sensors for both seeing and hearing the activity in front of the TV. Many TV viewers already own such set-top boxes to access pay-per-view services, digital video recordings and Internet streaming.

The patent filing even suggests the tracking system communicating with whatever smartphone or tablet a TV viewer might happen to have in his or her hands.

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Anarchists Attack Nuclear And Nanotechnology Scientists

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Photo: Transguyjay (CC)

An underground coalition with a dystopian view of nuclear and nanotechnology advancement has unleashed several recent shooting and bombing attacks. Their purpose is to push back against science that they say are aiming us towards “self-destruction and total slavery.” Nature reports:

A loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists.

A group calling itself the Olga Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation International Revolutionary Front has claimed responsibility for the non-fatal shooting of a nuclear-engineering executive on 7 May in Genoa, Italy. The same group sent a letter bomb to a Swiss pro-nuclear lobby group in 2011; attempted to bomb IBM’s nanotechnology laboratory in Switzerland in 2010; and has ties with a group responsible for at least four bomb attacks on nanotechnology facilities in Mexico. Security authorities say that such eco-anarchist groups are forging stronger links.

“Science in centuries past promised us a golden age, but it is pushing us towards self-destruction and total slavery,” the letter continues.

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Dreaming of Electric Sheep

End Of The WorldIn this column for Toronto Standard, Emily Keeler asks, “Are Dystopic literary visions becoming the way of the world?” Call me Henry Case, but i think she might be on to something.

Okay, it’s true: I tend to prefer fiction to fact. Though some journalists (and essayists) who work with what you might call “reality” get my gears going, I typically think stories are better, if only because they offer a window to a different, much less banal world. I learned early that novels are a place to run to, islands of respite from the endless rowing across the boring and tedious ocean between birth and death. It’s a place, to abuse a phrase associated with one of fiction’s loudest champions, where I can go to get away from being already pretty much away from it all. Stories relieve me of myself, from the blandness of my mostly apolitical and largely unremarkable life, and none more so than fictions of the mystifying future.

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