I’ve recently discovered a Canadian TV-show from 2012. It’s called Continuum. You can read the summary on wikipedia. In one sentence, it’s about a female cop from the year 2077 which, by fate, gets transported (time-travelled) to 2012, along with a handful of criminals trying to escape their fate.
In the future of the TV-show, North America in 2077 is a Corporatocracy underpinned by a perfect and all-encompassing surveillance system where everything everybody does is constantly recorded – everywhere and at any time – “to keep people honest”.
The TV-show debuted in 2012 but recent events make it look awfully creepy in that I constantly have to think “yeah, they are already doing that. Now”.
The most troubling thought, though, is the one I had just while writing this piece: with all the data that is collected on individual and business communication – would it be possible to predict the future? At least, on a large scale?
As you know, Google often “knows” the outcome of elections even before the people have voted – so imagine a system that not only is able to collect all the data that people enter into google, bing, yahoo, Facebook and a dozen more websites, but also sift through the individual communication (email, phone-calls, chat) of the people related to the searches (or unrelated) and combine it with classified data obtained from, ahem, “other sources”.
I don’t know much about “big data” and just the very basics of statistics and probability, yet this strikes me as an incredibly powerful tool – and a weapon with great potential for abuse.
Obviously, one could be pretty sure when to buy or sell stock – but also predict regional conflicts or wars (which in turn is just another angle for the stock-market).
So, it’s 2013 and all your data are belong to us. Or at least, it’s recorded for a couple of days.
But what do we make of it?
Somebody once said that Americans can’t imagine – much less warm-up to anything unless it’s been on TV. It was in the context of the TV-show “24”, that depicted an “African American” president, next to the use of torture to gain intelligence – both now broadly accepted in the US-society.
To a certain extent, this (TV-shows shaping the perception of reality) is also true for Europe.
In this sense, it will take some time and some TV-shows before the truth really sinks in, I’m afraid.
Ah, the truth….
Not this time, though.