UPLINK 2020-05-26 What is it to be human?

That is a pretty deep question.

I think that of course humanity has changed over the millennia. We are a very different species to what we were when we were in caves, or building the pyramids, or going to war in Europe. But there are still some fundamentals that have prevailed over that time. Two that I think are essential to being human:

  • Privacy
  • Freedom of speech

Both of these are being eroded massively. On privacy, I have no doubt we will see some measure being brought in for contract tracing. We are being asked by the police to be accountable for just going about our business. Authorities are sharing our personal data with businesses. Governments want to end encryption and have access to all of our personal conversations. Citizens are being encouraged to snoop on their neighbours and report them to authorities. Biometric passports are being developed and facial recognition technology is being rolled out across cities. This is a massive power grab for information. Did we learn nothing from Snowden?

On Freedom of speech, we are seeing mass censorship, fake news and propaganda prevailing. The algorithms and the way the internet is being restructured is making it harder for the individual to have a voice. Mass gatherings are banned and so is the right to protest. It is near impossible for the individual to protest online. Twitter is not a serious platform for dissent and it's filtered and controlled my an American megacorp. Youtube has demonetised and is scrubbing content as fast as it can be added. They are controlling the narrative. Comment sections of news sites are being flooded with bots. Did we learn nothing from the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

There is no digital democracy

The internet was supposed to free us up and give anyone a voice, a place on the web, a forum. Either with an identity or anonymously. Those days are drawing to a close. The last bastions of internet anonymity and independent thinking are being eroded by the megacorps who control the platforms. They control search, they control content, they control the narrative.

To be human is to be a meme

Humour, light banter, lolz, #viral, prank. Just look at any trend on twitter, or observe any whatsapp group, look at LinkedIn, watch the nurses in hospitals. Life has become one big meme. On any serious issue of our times 90% of the discussion will be taking the piss out of it. I'm no killjoy and I love humour, but I don't know how we got to a point where humour is the overriding point to start the conversation. The governments must love it. We are all to busy pissing ourselves laughing at memes to debate or objectively criticise. Just throw in a "rolling eyes" gif and move back to our TV. This move to humour suits the governments and megorcorps of our times. I recognise that I am not immune to this. I am after all human. But with recognition comes awareness and that empowers me to be different. I think twice before that flippant comment or posting the meme.

What does the future of humanity look like? What will it mean to be human? If you take my views on the trajectory we are heading - we will be a dumb race, unable to voice an opinion other than a meme, all the while our communications are monitored and the narrative controlled.

The revolution won't be televised, it will shown in an animated gif.

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