The Neoliberal Utopia: Absolute Surveillance and the Digital Panopticon Society

In military applications, we envision the remote deployment of swarms of microrobots that are available to locate, track, target and destroy people and machines with little human intervention. For more complex applications, swarms will be guided by groups of people who are enhanced with mental and physical prosthetics and advanced collaboration tools to enable exceptional rapid collective decision making in dynamic, confusing and ambiguous situations.

—Gerold Yonas and Curtis Johnson, Sandia Lab, May 19, 200

In the near future the re-ontologization of the real will entail ubiquitous environments, artificial zones of fully digitalized worlds of objects – an internet of things indexed, filtered, addressed, formatted, and connected in a completed panopticon of electronic data. Hidden and invisible the new world will follow you 24/7 pre-determining your choices and decisions, guiding ever aspect of your daily life, modulating both your physical and mental health and security. Such a completed surveillance society of absolute control will to those living within its environs seem like a technoparadisial utopia: a future technocratic state run by machines and AGI’s. Such is the vision of neoliberal trends in the techno-commercium. The totally managed society where human and machine have erased all boundaries between thought and technology, flesh and technics. A world controlled by algorithmic negotiations and neo-rationalist normativity, functionalized to the point of utter comatose automation.

Of course the hype factor and projected feasibility of eliminating risk in such an absolute corporatocracy seems almost a bland and boring matrix of financial stupidity, yet if one reads the literature within advanced fields of biometric and data surveillance this is the underlying goal: a society controlled from end to end by machinic surveillance and ubiquitous computing in which everything external and internal, extrinsic and intrinsic is digitalized, mathematized, and governed by algorithmic metrics without the users permissions or knowledge.

Certain Japanese companies, using a joint research Towards a “planetary” and ubiquitous code centre – the “Ubiquitous ID Centre” – have developed technology enabling them to obtain “a unique identification code, which, when applied to ‘real world objects,’ makes them easy to read on a computer.” This ucode could replace many different codes that are applied to objects, whether they are Japanese or European inscription codes of objects or existing standardisations. Each individual object can be inscribed with an ID address since the capacities of this new code are gigantic. The basic 128-bit code can be extended to 256, 384 or 512 bits. If we only consider the 128-bit figure, 34×1037 codes (34 followed by 37 zeros) can be attributed to it, that is, a billion labels can be attributed to objects and/or living organisms every day for over a billion years.

All the above is summed up in the definition of the main aims of the Ubiquitous ID Center: “The goal of the Ubiquitous ID Center is to establish and spread the infrastructure technologies for automatically recognizing ‘things,’ thus allowing for the creation of ubiquitous computing environments”. The first essential aspect of the internet of objects and living organisms involves an attempt to set up a full-size panopticon, like that described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish.

The other essential aspect evoked in this definition is to allow for the creation of ubiquitous computing environments. This time the aim is to bring to the traditional, heavy, in short, rather stupid, real world, new, radically digitalisable objects that can be added more and more successfully to the general panopticon that is being created. Here a new element appears which can help bring out another essential link in the general digitalisation project: the reconstruction of the “real world”. The “panopticon” can only be set up in the social fields that have previously been “rationalised, formatted”, and which are ready to receive the good news of the progress of digitalisation.1

Through education and indoctrination our children within a generation will come to accept such a world not only as a possibility, but as the only reality they know as real. The fears and qualms that we have toward such worlds will die with us, replaced with a generation that has grown up in such ubiquitous surveillance zones without any thought that it might be otherwise. The manufactured consent of the baseline education and indoctrination system of that culture will program these children to passively accept the total regulated environments due to other fears and security needs.

As such combinations of machinic and human enhanced therapies and propaganda systems take over the techno-commercium of that era the need to master new skills and specialized performance strategies will allow corporations to brand these neo-humans as property, providing them with the necessary medial, pharmaceutical, and invasive technologies necessary to get ahead in such competitive worlds as the new mega-cities of the future will entail. People will – even if skeptically, allow microchip technology and other invasive systems of health and security to be implanted as part of corporate security and employment. One sees this in Australia already within the banking and military industries. Soon it will come to a corporation near you.

Welcome to the brave new world of ubiquitous tyranny… of course this is a parody assimilation of data I’ve gathered, so there is a possibility to resist, but that window is closing fast. If we sit by and do nothing the time will pass when one has the opportunity to resist. Of course in the other part of the scenario I did not delve into is all those who will resist will be excluded from such access to security, comfort, and enhanced lives. One will live in the favelas of a dead world where life will be short, mean, and ugly. Controlled by the ever present world of drones and machinic systems of surveillance and policing that will disallow rebellion or resistance other than resentment. Sadly in such a realm one’s only hope will be to end it quickly…

  1. Tobin, Ami. Surveillance Zone: The Hidden World of Corporate Surveillance Detection & Covert Special Operations.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 21, 2017)

The Laboratory of Desire

Today the greatest ignominies exist not because we commit them but because we let them happen. They develop inside emptiness.

—Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities

More than any other significant project in our time it has not been the erasure of the boundaries of thought and technology, nor that of flesh and technics, but rather the erosion of the entropic distance between life and death. We live in a time when the very prison house of life is giving way to neganthropic laughter of eternal death-in-Life. Is this not the presumed project of H++, the extropian soteriology of the secular priests of our age seeking none other than immortality by whatever means.

From the Singulatarian dreams of Ray Kurzweil to the dance of convergence tech invading the human genome in Zoltan Istvan this secular mysticism of immanent exit seems madly reminiscent of all those syncretic cults of redemption during the late Roman Empire. Whether one seeks escape into some virtual cave of immortalist electronics, or the merger of mind and machine in the robotic transmutation and alchemy of machinic life we seem teetering on the edge of species death at the hands of our own ghastly dreams and nightmares of eternity. An inverted monotheistic hybrid this secular age of machines and artificial intelligence has triggered age old dreams of desire. Like children of some lost covenant, or the Promethean desolation of some broken quest for mastery, we are entering the last stage of the human condition reversing the poles of technicity. Allowing the prosthetic child of our long journey to exit us in its autonomous quest of transcension we are giving birth to monstrous worlds.

American History has never existed, only its myth, the strewn leaves of some grand narrative recycled under the mask of liberal or conservative appetites, and depending on the splicing and editing of those involved one gains neither an accurate representation nor a parodic tale of ultimate degradation and toxic grandiosity. Instead one is left with a dismal wasteland of competing dialogues which for an Alien Mind never mesh into a whole or totality (which was always a myth and mystic rationality anyway!), but rather the fabricated sequences of an ongoing apocalypse.

Are we not reenacting a staged drama, a script from the futurial gradients of some hypervalent mind whose sole reduplication of action and thought is to manipulate the tertiary stream of memory and desire of the human herd? Like cattle being led to slaughter we seem oblivious to the underlying currents of our age, as if the compliant mindlessness were itself a part of the very functional programming of our contemporary rationality: the normative give and take of a forgotten system of control that has always seemed to trigger its effects retroactively during the recycled temporal infestation of fear and horror, hate and bigotry. Hasn’t it always taken the destruction of a world to create one? Only a literalist of the spirit would contemplate the sadness of eternity. We have no time for sadness.

Like the lost tribes of some insignificant thought we move in zombie like fashion to the music of dead angels. Clipped even of our wings we wander this earth thinking we are free to choose our destinies, when in fact the future works its way backwards like some trickster speaking gibberish to awaken the holy fools from their distempered lives. No, this is not a world, but rather a laboratory of experimental decay and growth seeking through the electric flesh of corporeal desire to create something new, an impossible possible. Chance and necessity working hand in hand are producing in the alchemy of desire a new world out of the ruins of the old, and we who are the ‘last men’ are entering the dust of oblivion giving birth to strange gods.

Since we are already dead, let’s make the most of it!

(Zapatista proverb)