Opinion/Editorial

MATRIX

by James Strauss

In 1999 the Wachowski brothers of Hollywood made a movie called The Matrix. The movie was about how most of the earth’s population was living in little life pods, their bodies being used for the generation of heat energy while their minds experienced a seemingly normal life, despite being actually trapped inside an electronic medium called a matrix. The brothers based their screenplay on the philosophy and physics theory of Emmanuel Kant. Everything perceived by humans is an interpreted measure of some vibration. That observation and prediction by Kant has proven to be true. The brothers postulated in the movie that at some point in the future it would become impossible to distinguish between the vibrations given off by everything in the real world and artificial vibrations manufactured to mimic those of that reality.

In 2011 a British television series came out called Black Mirror. That series presented several episodes with extremely intriguing subjects, and conjecture about the future of humanity. One called White Christmas, starring John Hamm, allowed for a punishment called human blocking. In the virtually melded future, where electronic data appears as real in many parts of real life, a person can be ‘blocked’ by electronic means so that almost no one can see or hear him. That blocked person would also be unable to see or hear almost anyone else around. With the advent of virtual reality goggles and glasses this concept of blocking or banning, so common on social Internet sites like Facebook and Twitter, might become entirely possible.

And now the designers of the computer game Pokémon, invented by the Japanese firm of Nintendo in 1995 (Satoshi Tajiri), have devised a way for their game to become part of human reality using a telephone and a mobile computer app called Pokémon Go. What’s so extraordinary about this application, and why is it taking the world by storm (it was released on the 15th of July and had 20 million downloads and followers by late in the day on the 16th!)? It is extraordinary because the game transitions the electronic world into the real world for those who can see and become influenced by it. Millions of human beings are running around the earth attempting to find little computer icons carefully deposited (electronically) in almost every part of the civilized world. A ‘gym’ is the term used to describe one of these locations, with a computer icon lurking in wait, but visible only to a person with the proper app loaded device.

What does this homologation of events mean to people alive in the real world of today? It means that the ‘virtual’ world, as it can only currently be perceived on electronic viewing devices, is ‘beginning’ to meld with the real world. Playing the virtual game of Pokémon Go, people have already died in car accidents, falling from cliffs and one person even falling from a bridge, in pursuit of cartoon-like characters they have only been able to perceive and follow using the electronic medium of the internet. This game of Pokémon Go is only the first real manifestation of that ‘beginning’, but it definitely deals directly with this melding of the real and virtual world.

Mass media has taken a generally negative angle in reporting about this new game. The accidents and seeming ignorance of those players following electronic game directions in the real world is being reported as bad news for the public in general. None of the negative reporting is going to do anything about the changes this newly manifested, but long conjectured, trend is going to bring about, however. Eventual alienation of those who either cannot, or choose not, to be a part of the electronic phenomena is bound to occur, as non-participants will be singled-out, left to be alone or, in many cases, selected against in every increasingly important social ways. Older people, in general, have not taken to the new electronic communications age willingly. People who suffer eyesight and hearing deficiencies are also at risk of being left behind.

At this time, Pokémon Go is a game, but the ‘game’ nature of this advancing medium isn’t going to remain a ‘game’ for much longer. Store hours, addresses, contents and prices will become at first virtually provided, and then provided only through virtual means, much like telephone numbers (once indexed and scanned in large books). People’s identities, along with social, traffic and even criminal records will be instantly and visually revealed without inquiry (currently such things are ever more available, but have to be deliberately sought or looked up manually). Permission to locate every device in real time, and the identity of who is using the device, will at first be requested, but later demanded (or the person will be denied entry, which will be tantamount to social abandonment). Favorable and unfavorable associations may one day be revealed, based upon intelligent algorithms and trends.

None of these coming changes will be seen as good changes to those who’ve lived with much more privacy and secrecy in their lives. It is the young, playing games like Pokémon Go, who will drive these changes simply because to them those changes won’t be changes at all but merely the logical continuance of the advancement of every increasing intermingling of electronic and so-called “real” life. If you are a normal reader of articles like this one, then you have probably reached an age where you find the prospect of these predictions uncomfortable, if not downright negative. If you’re one of the rare younger people (playing Pokémon Go on the side while you read this) then you will no doubt find these predictions not only sensible, but warmly welcoming. Advancing technology can be controlled, but the social results of advancing technology have proven to be almost impossible to either control, or even understand, until well beyond the time of then applications.

Whom could ever have predicted that the public would take to paying more money for bottled water (unregulated for health) than beer, when tap water (regulated for health) is almost free? Whom could have predicted that an electronic medium (television) would go so far beyond simply entertainment to the point of controlling, even creating, almost every belief system, government and social structure within every geographic area it’s viewed in. It is easy to predict that this virtual presentation coursing through the veins of all electronic mediums will become a virtual foundation controlling almost all of real life. How that will play out, and the effects it will have on everyone touched or involved with it, is at this point, impossible to predict.
~ James Strauss

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