Tag Archive for machine

The Djinni and the Bottle

Person of Interest Logo S02

Person of Interest Logo S02


When the shows creators were quizzed about the reveal of PRISM (IRL) they mentioned that they were surprised by the relative non-reaction of the general populace here in the US.  The idea that citizens might not actually care all that much about the Govt. being able to play the ultimate peeping tom was not what they had expected.  Within the show, however, they finally seem to have found their new footing.

See, there is this psychological barrier, this “djinni in a bottle” effect that we have with regards to technology and scientific effort.  You often have several groups all pushing towards the same goal, be it the splitting of the atom, the development of wearable technologies, the creation of a shampoo that doesn’t sting when it gets in your eyes, and they can often run neck and neck when it comes to approaching the finish line.  Oftentimes everyone hits a wall and the research just spins its wheels for a few years (or decades).

But eventually someone breaks through.  Sometimes it’s a newcomer with deep pockets backing a new team (like Google with Glass) sometimes it’s a team that’s been working on solving the problem for years and a piece of new research or tech kicks them over into the winner’s circle. But in almost all cases, once that barrier has been broken, once one person or team has made the discovery, more follow, and usually swiftly.

But the tragic thing is that oftentimes, the group that makes the discovery, who breaks the barrier first is not the group that survives.  They are not the ones who figure out how to use the technology, or turn it into a viable product.  Sometimes they get crushed and bought up by a company that played it safer, or a group that came late to the party, sometimes the discovery sits idle for years.

In POI, that djinni is now well and truly out of the bottle.  Rather than trying to recruit Finch and his team, the Desima group has simply gone around, acquiring a parallel technology and preparing to crush (in a very literal fashion) any and all competitors.  We are looking at the difference in mindset between Finch (who proposed the Machine as a Shield, as a defensive tool) and Desima (who is interested only in the business of running the world).  Historically, IRL, the groups who are more business minded generally come out the winners.  I’m looking forward (perhaps apprehensively) to seeing how POI’s creators resolve this conflict in their own (already eerily predictive) created universe.


A last note, y’all may have noticed that I keep the comments closed on this blog.  I am, however, always willing to talk about any of these posts, so come find me on G+ if you like.  The blog is perpetually fighting SPAM posts (even with CAPTCHA and other safeguards in place) so I keep the comments closed.

Gravity well

This is actually a little more disturbing to me than the idea of drones in our cities, or government data mining on a grand scale.  In part because those things, well, bucking against those is a bit obvious, isn’t it?  But this kind of thing, companies mining your data to give you what they think you want.  Well that’s just pernicious.  There is already a tendency to bubble-up, to surround yourself consciously or unconsciously online with people of a like mind and of like opinions.

This idea of data comin’ to you takes your agency out of the picture.  Instead of you actively seeking like opinions, and running the “risk” of wandering into places where you might be exposed to something new, something that might change your mind, you are, in essence, going to be spoon-fed information.  The data will be mined, the numbers crunched and you will be handed just what you want, or what the algorithm *thinks* you want.

Which isn’t all bad, I mean, you’re getting what you want, right?

But think about marketers.  Think about SEO and pay-per-click advertising.  Do you really think that is going to remain an untapped resource for them?  This kind of thing is a freaking goldmine.  They can advertise directly to the interested parties.  Target individuals who might be lured from a competitor.

But, it will give you what you want.  You’ll get advertisements that are for things you might actually consider buying (or for things you already have, validating your choices).  You won’t have to put up with boobie-riddled vodka ads or discounts on Pampers (unless those are things you are into, of course).

BUT, you may tell me, you’re going to get things you don’t want as well.  Advertiser Wars, people aggressively targeting customer and fanbases of their competitors products.

Well, yes and no.  If you have to pay per click, then you want to have each of those clicks be as close to a sale as possible.  You want already interested parties to click, people who have a higher percentage of actually buying your product.  Expanding your userbase is a much more dicey proposition, in fact it’s an “investment” which means you are going to spend a ton of money without a clear and obvious return for a while.  So unless an advertiser is in the mood (or has the cash) to get expansive, they are probably going to spend their budget on people who will return a sale.

But you will still get what you want, right?

Thing is though, you are LOSING something in all of this.  You are losing the opportunity to change your mind.  You are putting yourself in the position of being easily manipulated because, by closing out opposing opinions, you will find yourself doing whatever *they* (whichever “they” you happen to consort with) tell you, simply because you are less aware of the alternatives.