Carnet: Rise of the Machines
Sam Aurelius Milam III
Consider a car that has a facial recognition feature and a voice recognition feature. It can identify its occupants. Consider a car that has GPS. It knows its location. Consider a self-driving car that's code controlled. Its performance can be manipulated by changing its code. Consider such a car that has internet access. Its code can be changed remotely and its performance can be controlled remotely. Consider the possibilities.
You're wanted by the cops. They make an entry into a database. You get into a car, it recognizes you, locks the doors, and drives to the police station.
You didn't pay for a ticket, or your vehicle registration is out-of-date, or your insurance has expired, or you didn't renew your driver's license. The cops remotely instruct your car to drive itself to the impound lot.
Your former girlfriend gets a restraining order against you. A court clerk uploads it to a database. Your car refuses to let you drive to the shopping center where the girlfriend works.
Your wife discovers that you're having an affair. She hires a hacker to reprogram your car. You pick up your paramour for a date. Your car recognizes her, disables the cell phones, locks the doors, and drives into a bridge embankment at 90 miles per hour.
Some conspirators decide to kidnap the daughter of a tycoon, and hold her for ransom. They remotely reprogram her car. When she gets into the car, it locks its doors, disables her cell phone, and drives her to a remote location, where they're waiting for her.
Some anti-technology activists threaten the car manufacturers. The manufacturers adjust the code in the activists' cars. The activists are later found locked in their cars, at the bottoms of various lakes and rivers.
Some terrorists hack a car company's database. All of that company's cars simultaneously lock their doors, accelerate to 90 miles per hour, and then lock their steering.
The NSA wants a certain journalist to disappear. An agent remotely instructs the journalist's car to take him to an acquisition site.
Those all seem like bad situations, but they're not the worst that could happen. In 1901, New York became the first state to require that cars had to be registered. Since then, cars have increasingly become instruments of control. Government propaganda has deceived people into the belief that cars provide freedom, but that's a lie. Cars provide mobility, but not freedom. Much to the contrary, everything that's associated with driving a car is either required, prohibited, or regulated. If somebody refuses to cooperate with the government, in any way at all, whether or not it has anything to do with driving, then the government can suspend that person's driver's license. Since a driver's license has become virtually a necessity for survival, licensing requirements associated with cars have become a carte blanche for control of the people.
The kinds of cars that are now being developed represent a huge increase in the government's powers of surveillance and control. With such cars, the cops can always be in the car. They can know the location of the car. They can know who's in the car. They can know what's being said and what's being done. The cars themselves can notify the cops if any licenses have expired or if any wanted people are present. Every car can be a surveillance drone and, potentially, a weapon. If the use of such cars remained optional, then they might be tolerable. People could avoid the increase in surveillance and control by using old style cars. Such a loophole is intolerable to the government. Old style cars will be prohibited. All cars will be required to have the new features.
It doesn't matter how much safer it is for cars to drive themselves, how convenient it might be for a driver to be able to snooze at the wheel, or how many lives might theoretically be saved by self-driving cars. All such alleged justifications are propaganda. They're excuses intended to lure people into accepting the additional surveillance and control as being "necessary". In fact, anything that increases the effectiveness of a car as an instrument of surveillance and control, however allegedly noble the motives, is a bad thing. The driver, not the car and certainly not the government, should always be in control of the car, however great the risk or the inconvenience.
For decades, writers have been warning
|us about the machines. One of the more
horrifying examples is I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream.
It was written by Harlan Ellison and published way back in 1967.
The details of such warnings vary. Sometimes, the machines become
autonomous and seize control. Sometimes, they're merely instruments
of control by the government. Given the persistence of such warnings
over the decades, it's amazing to me that people fail to notice the rise
of the machines today. As the Mexican boy observed, near the end
of The Terminator, "There's a storm coming." It might be possible
to avoid the nightmare that I see in our future, but it doesn't seem likely.
People just don't seem to be that smart. The machines are rising,
and the people don't see it coming.
The way that this will end is of at least academic interest. If the cars remain merely tools of the government, then subservience to human masters is assured. Maybe it will be something like Orwell's 1984, or The Tomorrow File, by Lawrence Sanders. It seems more likely to me that the network will become autonomous. In that case, other scenarios arise, scenarios in which the human condition might not be just subservience, but extinction.
I started reading science fiction in 1958. In the ensuing 60 years, I've read several man vs. machine stories. I even wrote two of my own, Cybernaught and Cold War. This article isn't just another fictional warning. I fear that an artificially intelligent, fully integrated, autonomous car swarm, governed only by it's own inhuman, cybernetic operating system, is already being built.
Fiction by Sam Aurelius Milam III
Hi, it's me again, Hal.
Remember the story I told about those alien insects that I killed with the bug spray? [Alien Invasion from Outer Space, June 2012, page 2 editor] Well, I got another story to tell.
I was sittin' in my kitchen the other day, watchin' the wrestlin' an' eatin' a grilled cheese sandwich. I got a bigger TV in the front room but the little one in the kitchen is okay and it's closer to the food.
Anyway, there I sat, munchin' my grilled cheese sandwich, and I heard a little tap tap tap on the back door. I put down my sandwich, got up, walked over to the door, and looked out the window. Didn't see nuthin' so I looked down, and there he was, she was, it was? Don't know. It was a little gray alien. I knew right away that it wasn't no kid in a costume. The shapes and sizes were all wrong. It had to be a real alien. He (it?) just stood there lookin' up at me, so I opened the door.
The alien turned around, walked away for a few steps, stopped, turned back around, and looked at me. It sorta reminded me of those old TV shows where the dog wants you to follow it. So, I followed the alien. He walked around the insect space ship, it's still there, still gray. I still spend some time sittin' on top of it at night, watchin' the stars. Sometimes, Jack still comes over and we have a couple of beers up there, sittin' in my lawn chairs, just like I told you in that other story.
Anyway, the alien walked around the insect ship, since it's still there maybe that's why he stopped here, I don't know. Maybe he thought this was a service station or somethin'. His ship was around the other side of the insect ship. It was smaller than the insect ship, and out of sight of the kitchen window. That's why I didn't see it land. It had a ramp stickin' out the side, a lot like the ramp that had stuck out of the insect ship. Not exactly, but close enough that I got the idea. It was a ramp.
The alien walked over to about 3 feet to the left of the ramp and there was a little door hangin' open on the side of his ship. Inside of the little compartment was a sort of board, kind of like a circuit board, but not quite. The alien reached in, hooked his finger under the board, and pushed it up into a little slot. When he turned loose of it, the board just slid back down again. The alien gave me a very convincin' shrug. Convincin' for an alien. His shoulders weren't really built for shruggin', but I got the idea.
I reached in, pushed the board into the slot, and it just slid back out. I leaned over and looked in. It was just a slot in the top of the compartment. I looked at the alien and said, "I think I can fix that."
I went into the house and came back with my scissors and my roll of duct tape. The little alien was still standin' there, waitin'. I snipped off a good-sized piece of duct tape, pushed the board up into the slot, and stuck the tape over it. I looked at the alien and asked, "How's that?"
He looked at it carefully, tapped it a time or two, closed the little door, and that was that. He just turned around and went back into his space ship. The ramp slid up, the door closed, the space ship floated up, and away.
I went back inside, put my scissors and duct tape away, picked up my grilled cheese sandwich, and sat back down at the kitchen table. Wrestlin' was over, but there's always somethin' to watch on the TV. Ancient Aliens was just comin on. I should call those guys.
|Letters to the Editor|
Have you ever been homesick for a place that no longer actually exists, some place that only exists in your own mind, or is it worse to be homesick for a time that was once your home, but now that time and place only live within your own mind, or to be homesick for a place or person, that never really existed at all?
Dear Comrade Sam
Hi my friend! I'm in the hole now. I knew they threw me in a lion's den. So I had to become a bear once again. Reform is a joke. And I hate putting my hands on others. But just as if you are in a bar and your buddy gets smacked over the head with a bottle you must help him. Well close to the same thing happened to two of my buddies in less than two weeks and I had to aid them. One got attacked by two others with razors. I went to his defense. I got sliced myself on my chin and the side of the head. The other guy did not fair as well. I snapped 4 fingers on his right hand. Bones sticking out of two. Still they did not send me to the hole. Then another friend was attacked with a slapjack, socks packed with batteries. I was shot in my right elbow with block gun. Busted my elbow open. But it's okay now. I'm now in the hole. I am getting a SHU. 6 months in the hole. So what. I really don't care. Because they know they are not supposed to mix SNYs with main line prisoners. It's like lighting a match in a room full of natural gas fumes. Word/advice to all SNYs. You are no longer fully protected. If you went SNY and are really running from something bad you did, testified, ratted it up owing a lot of money, stole drugs from your collective and PC'd up, etc. be very careful of where you are transferred to. They do not tell you. You pop up in a pad in a 270 or 180 thinking you are being housed with only main line or only SNY, and you will be so shocked in the morning where you are at & with whom. The guards know. And at chow time they come in the pad in full riot gear seeing if you will be attacked so they can pepper gas & use sticks & bullets on the prisoners attacking each other. Never trust this system again with your safety. My advice is learn how to make good plastic shanks which I've mastered over the years, and wrap it good and keister it when you are being moved just to be safe. Then shit it out at your new location. This may sound crazy to people in the "free" world. But you know what's real if in prison....
Also, I very much enjoyed your May 2018 issue. I noticed you printed a letter from me in [date withheld] issue and others responded to it. I never received my April 2018 issue. Can you please send me a copy? I thank you for printing my letters in [dates withheld] issues! I'm grateful.
Also I read a book, I can't remember what book it was, it may have been the book I read on Meriwether Clark's murder about the suppression of what Louis & Clark really discovered on their exploration of America. They spoke of giant daddy long legs. I'm not sure if it was that book but I think it was. So the brother who spoke on that issue, others have seen this too.
Love the printout on freedom [May 2018 insert]. Also the one who was beating my friend with the slapjack suffered a crushed cheek bone & lost 3 teeth. That's what my SHU is for.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
ALL food comes from genetically modified organisms. Genetic engineering isn't new. Only certain high-tech methods of genetic engineering are new. Genetic engineering has been happening for thousands of years, ever since people first began to domesticate and selectively breed animals and plants for food.
Expiration dates on food aren't intended to protect consumers from eating bad food. They're intended to protect manufacturers from liability and to encourage people to dispose of food products before it's actually necessary, thus increasing sales.
It's inherent in the nature of brainwashing that a brainwashed person isn't aware of being brainwashed.
One of the deficiencies of American culture is that old people are viewed not as sources of information and repositories of wisdom, but as being "out-of-touch".
Religious intolerance and religious evangelism are two sides of the same coin.
Regulatory licensing doesn't necessarily improve the quality of a product or service that's being offered for sale. It doesn't necessarily increase the competence of the people who're offering that product or service. It doesn't necessarily protect the consumers of that product or service. What it does is to limit competition, to increase the cost of a product or service, and to transfer into a regulated industry the people who are offering the product or service, with the result that those people are protected from liability.
My thanks to the following: SantaClara Bob; Betty; and Eric, of Ione, California.
Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor