We live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s

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“Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans” is a compelling essay by Henry Farrell published today in The Boston Review. From the essay:

This is not the dystopia we were promised. We are not learning to love Big Brother, who lives, if he lives at all, on a cluster of server farms, cooled by environmentally friendly technologies. Nor have we been lulled by Soma and subliminal brain programming into a hazy acquiescence to pervasive social hierarchies…

….Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion. We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things. The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways. Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites. Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure. Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots—automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities. Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s

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7 thoughts on “We live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s”

  1. Meanwhile, up in the sky, contrails in the sky are dispersing chemicals that have lowered average American male testosterone to 47% of the Greatest Generation’s standard, and out in boxland we are being lured by the culture of things to distract us from each other. People! Unite! What for? Why get up? I’m busy twittering on tweeter.

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  2. “Nor have we been lulled by Soma and subliminal brain programming into a hazy acquiescence to pervasive social hierarchies…” Really? Coulda fooled me. And the idea we are living in PK Dick’s reality was novel 20 years ago.

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