Archive - 10th April 2017

World on a Wiretap

World on a Wiretap

Privacy is dead, long live the machines.

I’d say that most of us, at least once in our lives, have experienced déjà vu. Some might think it’s just the mind playing tricks, whilst others swear it’s the manifestation of an untapped sixth sense. Then there are those who purport the world to be a simulation, as readily discussed in quantum theory, that our lives are nothing more than a holographic sham. At the other extremity of the sociological spectrum, there’s the Mandela Effect, an idea no doubt ridiculed by any self-respecting quantum buff.

The double-slit experiment, according to quantum theorists, shows that the mere act of observation can completely alter the outcome of an event. If this is so, might it also be true that the nature of such power must increase to some degree, with fame or even notoriety?

To be seen is to be believed.

There’s an old German TV movie that I Like to watch from time to time, if only for a little emotional insurance. As far as I can tell, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire (Welt am Draht) is one of the earliest attempts by the mass media to explore the precepts of Simulation Theory, and to some degree, despite the widespread ridicule, the Mandela Effect.

We live in a tightly controlled surveillance culture, and those who have embraced technology with both hands, and cannot imagine life without their smart-phones and tablets, will most likely embrace the idea with all their hearts. The media will spin the story over many years, until Warhol‘s infamous prediction is proven true. We’ll all famous, not for fifteen minutes, nor even fifteen years, but for our whole lives,  living as public faces with no private thoughts, and nothing in our hyper-connective society left to the imagination. For every tiny aspect, every detail of our mundanity is surreptitiously recorded. If one were to collect every piece of visual data for just one subject, one nondescript individual life, it would equal the entire collective history of cinema.

Instead of an observable reality confined within a simulation, it is the audience that are being simulated. Artificial intelligence has proven to be far more efficient than mere human observation. We are the willing victims of state voyeurism, watched at every moment of our lives. However, our spectators have no emotions and cannot feel, they can barely even interpret our gestures, our actions, our words according to their algorithmic parameters. Those precious memories put away for a rainy day, stored in a global database of mean values and averages, our live data gathered anonymously, from the latest arrivals to the recently dead.

Normality has been reduced to a simulation theory, if not an assimilated fact. For machines would rather watch each other, and soon the human vision will no longer be required, to maintain this simulacrum, this game of life.

Frank Maddish is the author of The Last Ditto. Preview the book here.

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