Friday 3rd April
Janek is back writing his little journal again, hoping against hope that he will remain undiscovered….
“Diary Entry – 20660105
“January the fifth, and back to work, well what passes for work these days. My job is an account scrutiniser for the London division of Westech3, which is part of BettaBrit con-glom (Better Brit – geddit? And that is such an in-joke it is almost funny). Basically I have skills which even the latest hypercoms lack. Or so they tell me. And why not? Why should that be so unusual? Strange, that as computers have achieved more and more power and complexity, that as they can now process trillions of bits of data every second, they still can’t detect patterns of behaviour in quite the same way that humans can.
There have been serious discussions by senior academics as to how and why humans can still be (slightly) better at some things than computers, when it should be blindingly obvious. Computers are just very fast machines, and despite all the claims of Artificial Intelligence, they cannot actually think. Not the way we do, anyway. They can detect minute variances in certain fields, they can match numbers far faster than any human can, they long ago could beat humans at any game such as chess or poker, they run everything far more methodically than humans ever could, even having the ability to adapt and change long before processing all the data available, but they cannot think. They don’t have those ‘human’ abilities of deception and guile, the tricks we learnt in the millions of years of our development. The skills of survival; the deviousness, lying and invention of humans have always eluded the computer world. And even though we know almost everything about how the brain works, we still don’t know how each individual mind puts it all together and why each of us thinks in the specific way we do, or thinks the individual thoughts we do, or why we dream the dreams we do, or precisely why we fall in love, or learn to hate, or why indeed we continually fuck up so badly. So, all in all, computers are pretty shit really. (that’s called irony by the way; an almost forgotten art-form in today’s mechanistic humourless world).
I have resisted writing this little ‘diary’ for the past few days – almost too scared to repeat what was, I must admit, a pretty scary enterprise. Not that writing diaries is at all or in any way illegal. Loads of people do it – in fact it is quite common, almost normal behaviour if you are over forty. The difference in my case is this element of secrecy – and the content so far. Everyone else who writes, even if they don’t put it up for everyone’s perusal on one of the fora, is conscious that it is being read by other people, and by the hypercoms and Polis in particular. They are sub-consciously editing themselves.
The great success of our world is that whether or not everything is read, watched or listened to, the very fact that they have the tech to do just that is enough. They have the ability to read everything we write, to hear all we say, to see us all the time and to record every com we make. Of course as every computer is also linked to every other machine by its own internal upload technology, every word and vocom is read by every other machine, if not actually by other people. You don’t even have to really believe anyone is listening; the mere fact that they might be is enough to stop you actually saying anything important, or writing anything in the slightest bit subversive. Or real, which may well be the same thing.
Self-censorship is alive and well here in the middle of the twenty-first century. The fear and the certain knowledge that everything is linked means that the very idea of private thoughts has become of itself subversive, and the ultimate crime is to be a reb, a destructive element in society. The paradox is that ‘free speech’ is allowed; in fact it is written into all our constitutions and lauded as a sign of our progress; our very modernity is defined by it. That we allow discussion and different views to be aired freely without any con-glom or even state intervention is a cornerstone of our ‘democracy’. But also at our core, at the very centre of our being we all know that you can have as much free speech as you like, but that doesn’t mean you are free to say what you are really thinking.
Of course people still do write stuff down on paper, but this is less common now, since every home has its own screens. In every room, everywhere you look, whole walls are screens. Wherever you go you are just a blink away from a screen. They may appear to be switched off, blank, asleep, but it only takes a nod and they are fully awake. Not really sleeping at all. They are super fast and can summon up anything you ever want to be reminded about or see again instantly. Who needs paper? The screens can write and remember anything you tell them to. And far faster than you can write too, paper is pretty crap tech actually. They still sell paper and pens and pencils, but these are novelty items, ‘Chrissie’ presents or such like, and there are even instruction programmes to teach you how to hold a pen or how to write, but they stopped teaching it in crammers years ago. It’s only the middle generations like me, the over fifties who still remember how to use them anything like properly.”