the human race no longer lives “in the real world.” we now live online, in the cyber domain
Welcome to the matrix.
The human race now lives online, in the cyber domain. We used to live “in the real world” and “go online.” Now we live online and visit the real world. Soon “IRL” will be a quaint experience offered by rustic-themed amusement parks, the kind that let you play at candlemaking or blacksmithing.
This is one of the biggest changes in the history of humanity. Note that I say “change,” and not “progress.” Let us not invoke that judgment-infused word without reflection. The sense of inevitable change we all feel may be either progress – or tragedy. Of which more later.
The consequences of this change will occupy the rest of these 95 Theses. But let us first establish, clearly, and beyond a doubt, that this change has in fact taken place.
The most obvious example of the move online – and subsequent pwnage of meatspace – is the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). A fridge obeys the rules of meatspace. Plug a fridge into the internet, and it will obey the rules of the cyber domain.
Let us examine the differences. Control of a non-IoT fridge requires physical access. Someone has to stand in your kitchen if they want to see or control your appliance The model, make, year, current inside temperature, energy consumption, what food and drink comes and goes – all this is opaque to a remote actor.
But on the cyber domain, channels of communication and control extend from your fridge to every corner of the planet. The manufacturer, and, indeed, any sufficiently-motivated attacker, state or otherwise, can know everything about your fridge, and in real time, or close to it.
You can learn a lot about a human from their fridge. The opportunities for gaslighting, denial of service, or even sabotage – food poisoning, anyone? – should be clear to any reader with even a drop of red team in their blood.
But plugging IoT devices into the internet is only a small part of the move online, and not even the most important part.
Consider the collection of data about humans taking place right now. The trivia, in aggregate, of which your life consists creates a “virtual you” – what Privacy International have dubbed a “digital döppelganger.”
Corporations collect this four-dimensional moving sculpture of you – to control your behavior. Governments do it – to control your behavior. We call it “targetted advertising” or “the war on terror” but the goal is to control you. For profit. For political power. Often both.
Suppose you know everything about someone – where they live, where they work, what music they listen to, what movies they watch, what food they eat, what they drink, who they sleep with, where they travel, on and on ad nauseum, the picayune details, taken together, that make you who you are.
You now know that person better than they know themselves.
Can you tell me the precise geospatial coordinates where you were yesterday at 6:17pm? No? Your cell phone knows. So does your cell phone provider. And the government.
Can you tell me the precise length of your urine streams when you went to the toilet yesterday? Can you cross-reference those times and durations against past toilet usage, and your electronic medical records?
Can you remember the exact words you uttered in bed with your lover three months ago? Were they more or less endearing than the time before? What was the duration and intensity of your orgasm? Cross-ref that against others your age.
The virtual you is more real than the meatspace you, because it is more precise, and its memory more lasting, than your poor little grey cells.
To know the virtual you is god-like power.
Who owns this virtual you? Not you. The powerful take it from the powerless, digital colonial plunder that looks a lot like the proverbial (if not historically accurate) tale of Native Americans selling Manhattan for a handful of beads.
It’s not just about watching, either. Surveillance isn’t about voyeurism, it’s about control. To own your virtual self is to own you. Data are people too. Think of it like voodoo dolls, if that helps – stick a pin and hurt someone for reals. Such ownership violates not only the confidentiality of your virtual self, but also its integrity and availability.
How easy to sabotage your life – or make it unavailable to you! We need only look at JTRIG’s operations to see where this is headed.
Our virtual selves are more real than the sacks of meat that walk the streets, and our cyborg connection to the world group mind – your pocket supercomputer cum personal tracking device – is owned and controlled, not by you, the human attached to it, but by powerful people who wish to control you.
At what point does the cyborg cross over and become more machine than human? At what point do we declare human liberty dead, and gong in the dawn of neverending totalitarian dictatorship by the secret police?
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