Email, social media, and GPS are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Google has added to its payroll the best and brightest minds in the fields of military defense, robotics (including humanoid robotics), defense, surveillance, machine learning, artificial intelligence, web-controlled household appliances (such as Nest thermostats), and self-driving cars. As journalist Carole Cadwalladr predicts, “The future, in ways we can’t even begin to imagine, will be Google’s.”
Toward this end, Google has been working towards what one investor called “a Manhattan project of AI [artificial intelligence].” For those who remember their history, the Manhattan Project was a top-secret, multi-agency, multi-billion-dollar, military-driven government project aimed at building the first atom bombs. This project not only spawned the nuclear bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it also ushered in a nuclear arms race that–to this day–puts humanity on the brink of annihilation.
No less powerful and potentially destructive to the human race are modern-day surveillance and robotic technologies, manufactured by corporations working in tandem with government agencies. These are the building blocks of the global electronic concentration camp encircling us all; and Google, in conjunction with the NSA, has set itself up as a formidable warden.
The question, when all is said and done, is where will all this technology take us? It’s a conundrum I explore at length in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, which looks to film, fiction, and art as indicators of the police state that now surrounds us, brought about with the help of the government and its corporate partners.
It won’t be long before we find ourselves, much like Edward G. Robinson’s character in Soylent Green, looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted; buy what we wanted; and think what we wanted without those thoughts, words, and activities being tracked, processed, and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.
Then again, George Orwell’s description of the world of 1984 is as apt a description of today’s world as I’ve ever seen: “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
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