External Storage

The last time Arnold and I talked the subject was external storage. Linda had turned me onto an article by a guy who didn't find a thing wrong with losing his memory for trivial detail, because he was wired to external storage where he could retrieve it. He said internal storage has become increasingly unimportant as we get wirelessly connected into the network. But as we increasingly connect to the network, do we give up more and more privacy?

A couple of days ago I was reading Popular Mechanics in a barber shop, and there was an article about brain scans. This scientist was able to discern that a subject was looking at a picture of a penguin by his brain scan. He couldn't just "see" it, but he ran the information through a computer program that deduced it in some way.

There are lie detectors that are pretty much foolproof, now, according to the article, but more significantly, there is a window onto the day when any one of us can be hooked to a machine that will be able to "see" what we are thinking about.

"This is the problem I had with allowing the authorities to hook everybody up to lie detectors and collect their piss and blood, or in the case of the Stasi, collect the sweat off their asses to sniff for signs of stress," I said, as Linda poured a shot of Bushmills. She wasn't paying much attention to me. She routinely drug tests anybody who operates heavy equipment at the company where she works. She's used to my getting carried away about things.

We have talked about this subject before, and especially about what the public response should be to a continued invasiveness into the private life to find evidence by which guilt can be distributed away from those who aspire toward heaven, downward onto those who carry their discarded hell for them. I get a picture of an old movie about Africa, where there's a long line of black pack people behind the white stars in their crisp brown walking shorts and khaki shirts.

When watching those movies I wanted to see the entire plot dissolve into chaos as the natives casually dined on long pig and split the treasure among themselves. But those natives weren't really cast as individuals. They were cast as external storage devices and a GPS unit.

So what do we do if we find ourselves subject to interrogation by "officials" who can hook us up and "see" everything we are thinking?

"My god, Captain, this man's mind is completely empty."

"I told you I was Buddhist."

"It's okay. I have his console log."

I suspect it's easier to discern what somebody is seeing (in the magazine article the subject was looking at a picture of a penguin) than to correctly discern what somebody is thinking, but I don't know. Certainly an image that came from the right brain would be more likely connected to memory than one from the left, which would be visual construction ... but could the images themselves be determined from brain waves?

"I know you are thinking about herring."

"I wasn't."

"This thing does not lie."

"Oh, you mean, 'her ring.' I was thinking about getting engaged."

"I told you; it never misses."

One solution for having no privacy is to not give a damn about it. This would require doing away with a lot of laws which enforce a false surface of respectability. If there is no private life then the laws have to be adjusted to the reality. That means the devil has to be invited topside for a change.

Perhaps Faulkner provided the key for unlocking a future in which there are no secrets. One must surrender the desire for respectability, which drives the double life of the evangelist sitting in anguished indecision outside the whorehouse. Faulkner said that the problem we have as contemporary men is not that we are evil, but that we are paltry. We have abstracted ourselves out of existence. And the most abstracting force in modern life, he said, is the desire for respectability.

Linda pointed out that a lot of young people have already surrendered respectability. Despite the warnings that what they say, or show, can be held against them, they continue to let it all hang out. Good for them. They will be obliged to shift the structure of law to accommodate their absence of a respectable front.

"Is this your My Space page?"

"No. It belongs to my avatar, Kiki."

This morning there was a piece in the Times by David Brooks about external storage. I sent it to Arnold with a note that it is what we have been talking about. I got an email back from him:

A good article, but he is such a creep, one of the major media guys to promote bush's war agenda.

....Yes, that is the grotesque but hypnotic future we have bespoken of, just having memory recall on your phone was just the beginning......coming soon..everywhere.....is the "BRAIN"....(Biomechanical Random Antenna Interactive Network)....it will be all around us, interacting and feeding us all the information we need as we move through the world seamlessly....perhaps mainly as avatars because we will be too paranoid to go outside our fortified dwellings....how else would the military-industrial complex see us....mindlessly sucking on a teat we now cannot give up or live without.....(yet we cannot afford basic services and infrastructure!)

Yours in tin cans and string


So ... that cheered me up! ; )

Posted: Fri - October 26, 2007 at 02:49 PM