Do you remember the classic science fiction movie, Soylent Green?
The 20th century’s industrialization led to overcrowding, pollution and global warming due to the greenhouse effect. In 2022, 40 million people live in New York City; housing is dilapidated; homeless people fill the streets; many are unemployed; those few with jobs are only barely scraping by and food and working technology are scarce with most of the population surviving on rations produced by the Soylent Corporation.
Soylent Green was made from harvested humans.
Here in the 21st century we are being harvested by the so-called ‘data-industrial complex.’ Apple CEO Tim Cook:
Today [the gossip trade criticized by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1890] has exploded into a data industrial complex… Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.
Humans in Soylent Green were harvested to feed those who were still living. Today, we humans are being harvested like sheep and our personal information is being used to feed us propaganda and misinformation designed to manipulate our thinking and our actions.
Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies… Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false. This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy.
Cook took aim at Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other nefarious members of social media and the advertising cabals that track online users to the point of stalking.
The message is clear. Data harvesting has yet to show how it can benefit the human race.
Advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency… For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values including privacy.
But that is not what is happening in a world full of tribal silos.
Apple is but one silo among many, though it may claim to be a haven, a respite for the weary who fear that such harvesting has reached a pandemic level. It has. What can Apple do?
The so-called walled garden ecosystem can only help if it becomes a better, more highly curated tribal silo; a Noah’s Ark respite that cannot carry all of humankind, but can carry those who understand the dangers of the data-industrial complex and have the means to journey in a better direction.
If you don’t mind being harvested then you didn’t get the point of Soylent Green.