Human society is undergoing a transformation unlike anything our current iteration of civilization has seen in the past. Right now, we are on the outer rim of a brave new technological world. Soon, we will be inexorably immersed in a disturbing new paradigm. These massive changes are touted as “solutions” utilizing digital technologies described using buzzwords like “disruptive,” “open innovation” and “smart,” the aim of which is to bring about global transformation through technocratic means.
In my day job, I have extensive exposure to the corporate communications of numerous Japanese megacorporations. Although I work with clients in a wide range of industries, from financial services and chemical manufacturers, to IT vendors and advertising agencies, all of them are united in their conviction of the necessity and inevitability of digital transformation. As corporations are the primary drivers of these changes it is important we pay attention to what they are doing.
i-SCOOP, a Belgium-based consultancy engaged in integrated marketing, digital business, transformation and organizational processes, describes digital transformation as:
The profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind.
In short, the goal is to use digital technologies to strategically “impact” and “shift” society. But in what direction, and to what end?
As already mentioned, one strategy for impacting and shifting society in the desired direction is the use of disruptive digital technologies. According to writer and Harvard Business School graduate Charlene Li:
Disruption in the end is a shift in power in relationships…it suddenly becomes disruptive if somebody in the power of a relationship uses it to change the dynamics of a relationship.
Transformation and disruption have something very interesting in similar: they’re both human issues, both human problems to be tackled, not technology problems. And that’s a mistake I think most people are making in this space. They think it’s a technology problem and it’s not, it’s absolutely a human problem.
According to Ms. Li, humans are the problem. The “solution” offered by disruption is a shift in the balance of power in human relationships. In other words, humans like you and I stand in the way of changes the corporatocracy seeks to impose on society. Digital technologies will be used to by corporations and governments “in the power of a relationship to change the dynamics of a relationship.” Of course, these changes will be implemented without our consent, input or even our understanding of how they will affect our lives. Do you suppose the intent is to change the relationship such that we are given more power?
By far, the most prominent and anticipated of these digital transformations is the rollout of 5G networks, which the website TechRadar.com describes as:
The next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.
Combining cutting-edge network technology and the very latest research, 5G should offer connections that are multitudes faster than current connections, with average download speeds of around 1GBps expected to soon be the norm.
The networks will help power a huge rise in Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data, allowing for a smarter and more connected world.
With development well underway, 5G networks are expected to launch across the world by 2020, working alongside existing 3G and 4G technology to provide speedier connections that stay online no matter where you are.
5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) are critical components of social transformation. In the information age data is more valuable than gold. This data will be collected from internet-connected devices, and not just your laptop, smartphone and TV, but all physical assets:
Physical assets range from consumer devices such as smart home solutions or pet trackers to sensor-equipped connected livestock and crop, industrial assets such as machines, robots, oil and gas facilities or even workers.
Anything that is attached as an endpoint with a unique Internet address (IP address) to the Internet and can sense and send data is part of the IoT. An endpoint is what makes an object uniquely identifiable on the IoT. It can be (part of) a system, a device, a tag which is attached to an animal or a sensor and communication system connected to a human being.
It is important to understand that the rollout of 5G networks means that humans will also become endpoints, part of the IoT. The digital panopticon will be complete. Before it is too late, perhaps we should be asking: Who stands to benefit most from 5G networks and IoT—people? Or corporations and governments?
There is already an uncountable number of internet-connected devices—the hardware—with more coming to market on a daily basis. For many years now, there has also been a major push to standardize digital technologies using software that will connect and communicate with these devices. But there is another component of IoT, the most sinister of all, that few people are yet aware of: wetware.
This term, also disturbingly referred to as “meatware,” is derived from the application of hardware and software concepts to biological lifeforms. The technocrats pushing digital transformation regard human brain cells and thought processes as analogous to computer systems. The IoT-based computer technologies they are developing will link the brain to artificial systems. If you already hate internet ads as it is, imagine what it will be like when they start popping up inside your mind.
Another major step towards societal transformation involves the concept of transhumanism, or the insertion of digital technologies directly into our bodies to “enhance” human intellect and physiology. This is how we all become meatware.
I suspect we have been slowly guided toward this inevitability through incremental changes in society, including the widespread acceptance and popularization of body modification (tattoos and piercing), the confusion of biological sex with gender and the promotion of transgenderism, and the rise of identity politics. Objectivity is considered problematic; reality has come to be defined as whatever fits our worldview at the current moment. Everything is changeable and able to be customized. Naturally, this will lead to a point at which many in society are ready to integrate digital technologies into their bodies, which are viewed as nothing more than imperfect vessels that we are free to mold like clay according to the contrived image we want to portray. Technocrats view humans as nothing more than biological machines with brains that can be programmed (and reprogrammed) like a computer. Corporations have been selling us on smartphones and other digital devices using the “smart” label—and who doesn’t want to be smart?—so it should be an easy sell to convince most people that we can become smarter and more productive by connecting our consciousness to the cloud so we can “live” in cyberspace.
The first vestiges of this aspect of “disruptive technology” are already here: digital devices facilitating augmented reality (AR), which blends digital elements with the real world, and full-sensory immersive virtual reality (VR) that is already so sophisticated it is able to trick our brains into an autonomic fight or flight response. It is not by chance that these technologies have been pioneered and developed initially for mindless entertainment and base pornographic purposes. This is deliberate digital addiction aimed at ensuring we accept and even embrace these technologies.
Another example of our lockstep herding toward meatware status involves the use of these technologies in the medical treatment and healthcare sphere. We have long accepted the benefits of artificial hips and pacemakers for extending and improving the quality of our lives. In the near future, we will be able to incorporate more sophisticated technologies into our bodies that restore sight and hearing, reconnect damaged nerves and inform emergency services when we are having a medical emergency. Hopefully, the artificial intelligence (AI) that is constantly monitoring and analyzing us from the inside out is sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a life-threatening cardiac event and strenuous sexual intercourse.
Already, there are people throughout the world who cannot wait to have RFID chips planted under their skin, who would gladly swap out their normal eyeballs for smart digital super vision, and who dream of the day when bionic muscles make the two-minute mile a reality. Yet hardly anyone seems to be concerned about the implications of all these technologies in terms of freedom, privacy and anonymity. The collection of data involves a two-way exchange. Should we be worried about what might be uploaded to the wetware digital interfaces embedded in our bodies and brains?
All these changes are part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which encompasses the transformations mentioned above. It is a vision of a world that is run by algorithms, AI and autonomous machines in which humans will purportedly enjoy greater leisure than at any other time in history. For this to become a reality, tremendous societal transformation is required. The technocrats engineering the future of humanity term this “Society 5.0” and Japan is ground zero for what is being touted as the next step in the evolution of human society:
Japan is taking the digitalization and transformation dimension, which is mainly happening on the level of individual organizations and parts of society, to a full national transformational strategy, policy and even philosophy level. It’s the furthest reaching plan ever seen in this regard.
I can certainly attest to this, as the work I engage in on a daily basis is steeped in digitization and transformation strategies and policies. The Japanese corporates frame these efforts in terms like “contributing to society” and “providing solutions” but I have yet to see any evidence of this. Rather, they appear to be laying the groundwork for an inescapable global surveillance grid aimed at the total control of all living things. Similar to hardware and software, we are being standardized, homogenized and commoditized. The only value we offer is as producers and consumers of their products and services. We are referred to in dehumanizing terms like “consumers,” “users” and “human resources.” Beyond these roles, most of us are useless and expendable in the eyes of corporate technocrats and government bureaucrats.
5G will certainly be disruptive. If the technocrats get their way, we may no longer even have privacy with regard to the thoughts in our head. It may ultimately result in the end of human freedom. The only glimmer of hope we have lies in the fact that most of the digital technologies we currently use often do not work all that well to begin with. And, there is nothing on the internet that cannot be hacked, stolen or infected with a virus. This boldly ambitious attempt to make such an all-encompassing system may prove impossible simply because humans are not computers and our brains do not work the way technocrats like to think they do. In the end, it may be simple human arrogance and folly that make the coming transformation an utter failure.
The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.