Monkey Pong and The Cyberpunk Nightmare That Follows
Before the pandemic hit and stand up comedy wasn’t awkward low resolution zoom meetings. Part of my stand up set was this absurd window into humanity's future where we would be locked in tiny rooms covered in giant screens playing porn on a loop. Men would be staring at it constantly jerking off whilst having a funnel of McDonald's going directly into their necks.
Seeing a video of a monkey playing pong with it’s mind for banana smoothies really reminded me of that. I mean, I went on to talk about puss covered babies coming out of their chins which I didn’t see happen to the monkey... Still the video unnerved me.
The Neuralink is an implant that would allow the user to control technology with their mind. Elon Musk: cyber king of Tesla, Future king of Mars and all around meme super villain is the co-founder of the project.
I remember hearing Musk talk about this a few years ago. I was actually quite excited about it. Growing up watching Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix made me always dream the future would be like that. I know they are pretty bleak depictions of the future but being able to literally dive into the internet and be actually in a video game would be incredible. To have the ability to be able to download skills and instantly be able to play guitar. I was quite a lazy child.
In the early 2010’s when I was in Uni I had started reading Transmetropoliton and discovered Transhumanism. I was really onboard with this idea of man syncing with machines, using new technologies to alter how we look aesthetically and AI waking up and sorting out all the petty human squabbles.
I remember reading a lot about Ray Kurzweil and the singularity. The singularity is a theory that as technology gets better, we are able to make new and better technology quicker. It will be this shortening cycle until we get to a point where technology will get so advanced so quickly that we don’t know what will happen. People speculate that the singularity would be true AI being created and as a lot of people like to put it quite ominously, it will ‘wake up’.
Kurzweil predicts that the singularity will happen in 2045. I haven’t thought about Kurzweil in the last 5 years. I moved on to different interests after a while and stopped keeping my eye on it. Looking back, It’s slowly been happening. VR is starting to become a thing, nanotechnology has advanced, more and more investment is going into AI, it’s coming.
When Musk was talking about the Neuralink he said “Neuralink’s devices could enable “superhuman cognition,” enable paralyzed people to operate smartphones or robotic limbs with their minds someday, and “solve” autism and schizophrenia.”
Ignoring that pretty awful comment about “solving” autism and schizophrenia, the mention of ‘superhuman cognition’ definitely gives me dystopian shudders. It all sounds good on paper. All of us have this direct access to google. Able to access any information immediately and become a hive mind. Until you start to really think about it.
Not to sound tin foil hat, but to start with google has a tendency to hide information. What shows up on the front page is put there by the highest bidder. So chances are we would have instant access to information that is paid for and promoting the elite.
I think that the Neuralink will come down in price and be affordable to most people. The reason for this is because of how much money can be made from selling your data. Facebook and google make billions each year harvesting our data. That’s just from what we type, search for and obviously as it listens to our conversations. Imagine how much data it could harvest when it’s directly linked to our brains.
The Simpsons have been constantly predicting the future, but as we delve further into the information age Futurama is going to be the go to cartoon fortune teller. I keep thinking of that episode of Futurama where Fry is getting adverts in his dreams and I’m sure if the implant can do it, it would do it. It might just be more innocent seeming things, you feel an emptiness in your stomach and suddenly a recommendation to the nearest Burger King, a yawn escapes you, ‘here is the nearest Costa’.
I really would love to be able to plug in directly to a videogame and escape this world. Pull yourself into an online bar and actually hang out with all your friends around the world. People being freed from there paralyzed bodies and being able to live in whatever Ready Player One pop culture orgy they want.
I know I sound like a mad conspiracy theorist but I just don’t trust big tech enough to let them have direct access to my brain. Maybe when AI wakes up and restructures the cyberpunk dystopia we are heading into, it might be what Musk claims it to be.
Want to learn more about Transhumanism, check out The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil.
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