[Humanist] 28.469 the Internet as we wish it to become?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Nov 5 07:44:00 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 469.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 05 Nov 2014 06:20:52 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the internet of things

Allow me to draw your attention to what in historical terms might be called a near-simultaneous juxtaposition.

First item is "The Entire History of You", part 3 of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror, aired on British television 18 December 2011. I quote from the Wikipedia entry: "Set in an alternative reality where most people have a 'grain' implanted behind their ear which records everything they do, see or hear. This allows memories to be played back either in front of the person's eyes or on a screen, a process known as a 're-do'." Perhaps unsurprisingly it leads to horror and disaster. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Black_Mirror_episodes for the complete plot summary. But watch it, please.

Second item is a review of several books, "The Creepy New Wave of the Internet", that just appeared in the 20 November issue of the New York Review of Books, as follows.

The Creepy New Wave of the Internet
Sue Halpern
New York Review of Books
20 November

Reviews of:
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative
Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin; Enchanted Objects:
Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things by David Rose; Age of
Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy by Robert Scoble
and Shel Israel, with a foreword by Marc Benioff; More Awesome Than Money:
Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook by Jim

> For years, a cohort of technologists, most notably Ray Kurzweil, the
> writer, inventor, and director of engineering at Google, have been
> predicting the day when computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence
> and merges with it in what they call the Singularity. We are not there yet,
> but a kind of singularity is already upon us as we swallow pills embedded
> with microscopic computer chips, activated by stomach acids, that will be
> able to report compliance with our doctor's orders (or not) directly to our
> electronic medical records. Then there is the singularity that occurs when
> we outfit our bodies with "wearable technology" that sends data about our
> physical activity, heart rate, respiration, and sleep patterns to a database
> in the cloud as well as to our mobile phones and computers (and to Facebook
> and our insurance company and our employer). 

See http://www.nybooks.com/issues/2014/nov/20/ for more. This is, as we say,
real, i.e. becoming actual, driven by current well-funded plans or dreams
and predicted by some to turn out to be not all that different from Charlie
Brooker's fantasy.



Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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