The servers that store your metrics. The servers that shout the ads. The servers that transmit your chat. The servers that geofence your every movement.
It’s time to wake up to the fact that you’re just another avatar in someone else’s MMO. Worse. From where they stand, all-powerful Big Data analysts that they are, you look an awful lot like a bot.
The real race isn’t over the client — the glasses, watches, phones, or goggles. It’s over the servers. It’s over the operating system. The one that understands countless layers of semantic tags upon every object on earth, the one that knows who to show you in Machu Picchu, the one that lets you turn whole visualizations of reality on and off.
Hopefully, the one that isn’t owned by anyone.
Pshhht, rendering? We’ll get new client hardware, new client software. Big whoop.
I’m a lot more worried about whose EULA is going to govern my life.
I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.
And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.
Still, their easy assumption that we’d all “be better off” if our brains were supplemented, or even replaced, by an artificial intelligence is unsettling. It suggests a belief that intelligence is the output of a mechanical process, a series of discrete steps that can be isolated, measured, and optimized. In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.
The idea that our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the network’s reigning business model as well. The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. Most of the proprietors of the commercial Internet have a financial stake in collecting the crumbs of data we leave behind as we flit from link to link—the more crumbs, the better. The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction.
There is the old master’s quip:
What do you do before enlightenment?
Chop wood and carry water.
What do you do after enlightenment?
Chop wood and carry water.
One of the traps some of my wealthy patients have done is to eliminate so many hassle jobs, they lose touch with who they are. It becomes a kind of addiction where more and more ordinary things become an irritating hassle. They then get snippy and even angry whenever bothered. That then leads to becoming arrogant and even more selfish, not less. Self importance feeds the snake eating its own tail.
By now you’ve probably seen a Predictor; millions of them have been sold by the time you’re reading this. For those who haven’t seen one, it’s a small device, like a remote for opening your car door. Its only features are a button and a big green LED. The light flashes if you press the button. Specifically, the light flashes one second before you press the button.
What we have come to understand through modern cognitive sciences and new research into human motivation is that people are largely motivated by intrinsic drives: the need for mastery and autonomy in our work, to be loved, to belong, and to gain the respect of those we respect, in turn.
In cultures where respect is only tied to winning and wealth, people may adopt those trappings as the measure of self-worth. But people are not made happier by the extrinsic motivations — more money or more stuff — after they have enough. And people can only be happy if their intrinsic motivations are met, no matter the size of their bank account or how many people report to them at work.
We function through active pretending. We try on a persona in a crowd of new people. We shift between roles in different social settings. We’re capable of feats beyond our ordinary talents. We all strive to be Super. But most of the time, we shrink back down to our normal, humble selves, tiptoeing around that which can hurt us so as not to die.
“The Internet is not just a series of pipes. Its core architecture embeds an assumption about human nature. It assumes that if individuals are empowered, they will do the right thing the vast majority of the time. Services like eBay, Craigslist, Etsy and Airbnb are built on the assumption that most people are honest. …
Once upon a time we trusted a hotel chain like Hilton. The brand made people feel safe spending the night there. Increasingly we have less confidence in these established hierarchies. We have come to trust in the network, in the web of connections between people.”—Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures | The decline of serial killers and rise of the sharing economy (via courtenaybird)
"It’s notable that viewers have expressed similar feelings about other complex TV wives — Carmela Soprano of “The Sopranos,” Betty Draper of “Mad Men.” Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.
At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?” Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?”