Posted by: JDM..... | November 7, 2013

Big Brother & the Borg…

…resistance is futile recommended

I had heard about it, and today there was an internet blurb about the construction of something the builder vaguely describes will be an “interactive learning center”.

Speaking of “Learning Centers”, over the course of my lifetime I have encountered and been affected by quite a variety. Some supposedly had a positive impact on me, while others I might have been better off playing hooky from. Still others were put into a “We’ll see later” bin for future assessment. I suspect that would describe the path of just about anybody, though.

The news item today was about two large barges being built by internet data sump Google, one on each coast, and it turned the lights on in a couple of my “WSL” files. I’m not yet quite sure what to make of it. The east coast behemoth, built in Connecticut, was parked off the coast of Maine. That got my attention, of course. Accordingly, it now appears to be “Later”, and I’m thinking I may not like what I am about to “See”.

On barges……..?

According to NBC News, Google is building the four-story tall west coast edition on San Francisco Bay to skirt mandatory inspections and other mainland regulations, though they still face certain requirements on the water. They have been secretive about the scope and purpose of the projects, but have now announced that they will be “learning centers” where people can learn about new technology. On a barge?

Paranoia or no…?

Here’s where my innate curiosity and propensity for asking more questions than are really necessary in just about any situation and often more than are tolerable to those on the receiving end. Some might suggest that my intractability indicates a certain amount of paranoia on my part, but I would argue that persistently asking “Why” and “According to whom” questions separates me from those milling around like sheep adjusting their courses according to the loudest bark regardless of where it comes from, and more often than not simply following each other. In this day of continuous media cascades designed to create the compulsion to take a pill for everything including deciding which pill to take, I think it’s important to ask questions. Even if it wasn’t important, I’d ask anyway because I like to know stuff and I am genetically wired to “question authority”, my first question usually being “Who made you the authority, and where did they get the authority to do so?”

sci-fi influence

I suppose some of my compulsion stems from my life-long love of science fiction, perhaps solidified by the Captain Video series of the late forties and early fifties and the weekly installments of Flash Gordon at the local movie theater where fifty cents would grant one admission and the price of some popcorn and a soda. There aren’t too many sci-fi shows and movies that I haven’t soaked up, in addition to reading some classic works by the likes of Jules Verne, George Orwell, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Piers Anthony, Arthur C. Clarke, Ayn Rand, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, and more.

Thus, when I read about the mysterious floating “things” that resemble Scrooge McDuck’s vault, visions of the BORG of Star Trek notoriety and the terrible socio-economic scenarios suggested by Orwell and Rand were immediately invoked. The more recent and unfortunately short-lived television series “V” also comes to mind.

New digital age & new socio-political climate

I look back at history and consider the sage observation by George Santayana that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and ponder what other forces must come into play to make that such a truism. The answer, of course may be that such a self-defeating path is almost a predictable one for humanity, akin to the “early bird gets the worm” and it’s multiple variations. For a number of reasons, we seem to be blind to lessons hard learned by those who preceded us, as exemplified by such iconic claims as “That was different” and “It’ll never happen to me.”

Knowing that, and already having described my affinity for tales of dire plots disguised as benefits (see “Trojan Horse”), my brain vibrates with political cartoons, impending bouts of impassioned Blogarrhea about the inevitable Virgin birth of a real life Big Brother, and/or its identical twin perpetrated by the Digital Autocracies of today such as Google. The only precedent that comes to mind would be the rogue European internet group known as Pirate Bay, regarded as People’s Heroes by some and cyber-criminals by others. That was a private venture created in resistance to government regulations and controls, but the Google creation is being created quietly in broad daylight, apparently with the endorsement of government, without really telling people what it’s all about. That’s an oddity in this time of rabid competition for cyber-dollars when companies are far more likely to drive us all to the brink of madness with the din of exaggerated boasting and bragging about every little variation of last month’s favorite doo-dad they might plan to release any moment. That tends to raise an eyebrow and unhook the restraints on a few hounds in my “Something’s rotten in Denmark” kennel of questions.

Experience, seven decades of social conditioning, and a bit of good, old fashioned “I don’t want to deal with it” denial tell me that this view of mine is actually quite funny. But, it also tells me that it is all quite plausible, perhaps even possible…perhaps even…..

 

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