Monday, December 16, 2013

Our future tech overlords are forming a government - with a military

Many nations of the world, including my own, have instituted a republican form of government, in which the people elect representatives to do the bidding of the people.

In reality, however, the government consists of thousands upon thousands of individual entities - even when you consider a single government (such as the U.S. Federal Government). A bunch of different bureaus and agencies and divisions and units are all out there, sometimes working at cross-purposes. Couple that with the political level, which has its own glaring inefficiencies, and it soon became clear to the great minds of tech that a better system was needed.

I've alluded to this before when talking about the recent BART strike, in which a union, seeking a preferred level of wages and benefits, refused to operate the commuter trains upon which much of the Bay Area depends. One solution bandied about - driverless trains. This, of course, is extremely efficient - no unions and benefits to worry about, and you don't even need to have a municipal government entity paying people. Just turn it over to the tech companies, and everything will be fine.

And there are countless other stories in which tech companies claim to do things better than the government. Take multitouch screens - Apple did it privately and made vast inroads in the market. A British inventor tried to get government help, and things went spectacularly awry.

Since then, several things have happened - most notably, government has gotten in the way of the tech companies' profit streams. Not too long ago, several competitors joined together under the banner Reform Government Surveillance. Here is a portion of their manifesto:

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

The biggest fear of the companies? If governments continue their surveillance of online data, then users will be reluctant to put data online - and that prevents the tech companies from performing their own surveillance on our data.

This obviously will not do, so the tech companies have taken the logical next step.

They're forming a military.

Oh, sure, it's portrayed as cutesy stuff that will allow tech companies to provide better services to their users. Amazon Prime Air is just a super-efficient way to get products to customers on the same day. It's not like Amazon is going to ARM the drones or create an air force or anything like that.

Meanwhile, the latest news is that Google has bought a robot company, Boston Dynamics. The name of the company, incidentally, is a reminder of the fact that not all tech advances originate in Silicon Valley - a number of tech firms have emerged from the area surrounding Boston, and Boston Dynamics is one of them. And Boston Dynamics robots, which will soon be put to the use of Google, have been used by a number of other entities for years, "including all branches of the US Armed Forces." But Google would certainly use these robots for peaceful purposes...NOT for an army.

At this point some of you are getting my drift, but think that my argument is a little off. "OK, John," you're saying, "even if the tech companies had an air force and an army, they'd still need a navy, wouldn't they?"

But remember the Google barges. Not to mention Larry Ellison's extracurricular activities - or perhaps, based upon his Oracle OpenWorld priorities, his primary activity.

And incidentally, the Coast Guard is hassling Google about the barges now. Will Google fight back...with drones and robots?

It all seems peaceful now, and everything is being used for peaceful purposes. But don't say that I didn't warn you when the tech companies reveal their military might, in the ultimate demonstration of Godwin's Law.
blog comments powered by Disqus