John Whitehead's Commentary
The Metaverse Is Big Brother in Disguise: Freedom Meted Out by Technological Tyrants [SHORT]
Welcome to the Matrix (i.e. the metaverse), where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as one’s technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly rendering humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, sees this digital universe—the metaverse—as the next step in our evolutionary transformation from a human-driven society to a technological one.
Yet while Zuckerberg’s vision for this digital frontier has been met with a certain degree of skepticism, the truth—as journalist Antonio García Martínez concludes—is that we’re already living in the metaverse.
The metaverse is, in turn, a dystopian meritocracy, where freedom is a conditional construct based on one’s worthiness and compliance.
We are almost at that stage now.
Consider that in our present virtue-signaling world where fascism disguises itself as tolerance, the only way to enjoy even a semblance of freedom is by opting to voluntarily censor yourself, comply, conform and march in lockstep with whatever prevailing views dominate.
Fail to do so—by daring to espouse “dangerous” ideas or support unpopular political movements—and you will find yourself shut out of commerce, employment, and society: Facebook will ban you, Twitter will shut you down, Instagram will de-platform you, and your employer will issue ultimatums that force you to choose between your so-called freedoms and economic survival.
This is exactly how Corporate America plans to groom us for a world in which “we the people” are unthinking, unresistant, slavishly obedient automatons in bondage to a Deep State policed by computer algorithms.
Science fiction has become fact.
Twenty-some years after the Wachowskis’ iconic film, The Matrix, introduced us to a futuristic world in which humans exist in a computer-simulated non-reality powered by authoritarian machines—a world where the choice between existing in a denial-ridden virtual dream-state or facing up to the harsh, difficult realities of life comes down to a blue pill or a red pill—we stand at the precipice of a technologically-dominated matrix of our own making.
We are living the prequel to The Matrix with each passing day, falling further under the spell of technologically-driven virtual communities, virtual realities and virtual conveniences managed by artificially intelligent machines that are on a fast track to replacing human beings and eventually dominating every aspect of our lives.
Look around you. Everywhere you turn, people are so addicted to their internet-connected screen devices—smart phones, tablets, computers, televisions—that they can go for hours at a time submerged in a virtual world where human interaction is filtered through the medium of technology.
This is technological tyranny and iron-fisted control delivered by way of the surveillance state, technological tyrants such as Google and Facebook, and government spy agencies.
So consumed are we with availing ourselves of all the latest technologies that we have spared barely a thought for the ramifications of our heedless, headlong stumble towards a world in which our abject reliance on internet-connected gadgets and gizmos is grooming us for a future in which freedom is an illusion.
Yet it’s not just freedom that hangs in the balance. Humanity itself is on the line.
Cue the dawning of the Age of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which “just about every device you have—and even products like chairs, that you don’t normally expect to see technology in—will be connected and talking to each other.”
It is estimated that 127 new IoT devices are connected to the web every second.
This “connected” industry has become the next big societal transformation, right up there with the Industrial Revolution, a watershed moment in technology and culture.
Yet given the speed and trajectory at which these technologies are developing, it won’t be long before these devices are operating entirely independent of their human creators, which poses a whole new set of worries.
As technology expert Nicholas Carr notes, “As soon as you allow robots, or software programs, to act freely in the world, they’re going to run up against ethically fraught situations and face hard choices that can’t be resolved through statistical models. That will be true of self-driving cars, self-flying drones, and battlefield robots, just as it’s already true, on a lesser scale, with automated vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers.” For instance, just as the robotic vacuum, Roomba, “makes no distinction between a dust bunny and an insect,” weaponized drones will be incapable of distinguishing between a fleeing criminal and someone merely jogging down a street.
Moreover, it’s not just our homes and personal devices that are being reordered and reimagined in this connected age: it’s our workplaces, our health systems, our government, our bodies and our innermost thoughts that are being plugged into a matrix over which we have no real control.
It is expected that by 2030, we will all experience The Internet of Senses (IoS), enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 5G, and automation. The Internet of Senses relies on connected technology interacting with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch by way of the brain as the user interface.
As journalist Susan Fourtane explains, “Many predict that by 2030, the lines between thinking and doing will blur… By 2030, technology is set to respond to our thoughts, and even share them with others… Using the brain as an interface could mean the end of keyboards, mice, game controllers, and ultimately user interfaces for any digital device. The user needs to only think about the commands, and they will just happen. Smartphones could even function without touch screens.”
This is the metaverse, wrapped up in the siren-song of convenience and sold to us as the secret to success, entertainment and happiness.
It’s a false promise, a wicked trap to snare us, with a single objective: total control.
Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. And people are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother, who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the Metaverse is just Big Brother in disguise.