Monday, October 01, 2007

Welcome to Dystopia



There's a a fun list up on At the Movies now: The Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time. I've only seen about half of these, so I guess it's time for another trip to Makati Cinema Square. In case the ranking makes you scratch your head, please note that it's based on averaged-out IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores as opposed to, say, the workings of a single rational mind. Hence I Robot ranks higher than Logan's Run or Strange Days or Idiocracy. Still, great list, though. And I can't argue with A Clockwork Orange, Brazil and Blade Runner coming out on top.

And speaking of Blade Runner! There's a great Ridley Scott interview up on Wired, about Blade Runner: The Final Cut, which I really really hope they will show in some nice theatre here when it comes out.

Finally, on a related note, there's this interview with Cory Doctorow about his short story "Scroogled," which depicts a frightening and all-too-possible scenario involving the misuse of the world's most popular search engine (read the short excerpt in the sidebar; it will ensure that you pause and think for a moment before punching in your next search query). Doctorow recounted:
I had a really interesting meeting a couple of years ago with some of the [chief information officers] of Danish ministries. We sat down to talk about data interoperability and document retention. Document retention's a really thorny one, because hard drives are cheap, and governments don't really understand why they shouldn't just save everything. Who knows when it will be useful? I started to talk to them about this, and a gentleman put his hand up and said you know, you may need to talk to people in other countries about this, but you don't need to talk to the Danes about this.

Because after the Nazis occupied Copenhagen, they went down to the police station and got from the files all the addresses of the people they wanted to round up and stick in boxcars, and they took them away. We don't retain anything here. As soon as we're done with it, we throw it away because we understand that you can't always predict how information will be used, and the only way to ensure it's not misused is to get rid of it when you're done with it.

I think it's important to note here that what makes Google Google, what makes them such a good target for this stuff, is that they make the best search product on the market. They are so important to all of our lives that it's vital that we start thinking about what they mean and how they work, and what it could mean to have that much power concentrated into just a few hands. And what will happen down the road if the company's culture changes.

9 comments:

wysgal said...

Good list. Reading it I now remember the title of the pre-Matrix like film I was trying to recall for the longest time (Dark City). Looks like my Netflix queue will be getting an update soon.

Luis K. said...

I've been looking for Dark City, seems very interesting. :) Regret not watching it when it was in local theatres. Other films on the list that I want to see: The City of Lost Children, and One Point O, and 1984.

indi said...

That's pretty interesting reading about Denmark. But there's a national ID system here in the form of the health card central personal ID number which contains all this information which can be used for lots of stuff like borrowing books from the library and maybe surveillance. Anyhoo, they've very advanced online public e-systems, great trust in the state and low corruption and crime (mums can leave babies in carriages parked outside the 7-11). I hear there's also a terror package that sounds kinda scary.

Luis K. said...

Hi Indira! :)

Childless readers take note: babies easily obtainable on Denmark sidewalks.

The words "national ID system" make me shudder. Of course, having grown up here, I always assume such a system would inevitably be used for evil. Denmarkians are probably luckier in that aspect.

Yes, I know that Denmarkian isn't a real word. ;) Funnily enough, however, it's apparently a slang term on Urban Dictionary.

indi said...

hahahaha "Foreign kid who drinks a lot and plays beerpong." Man, they do love their beer ova here....

love the list, btw. damn, i miss makati cinema square. i am sooo behind in movies now.

Pauloy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pauloy said...

I ❤ Cory Doctorow! I would marry him (or his brain as an electronic outboard peripheral plug-in, rather) in a dystopian moment! Free stories, free books, free Cory for all!

pgenrestories said...

I have a copy of Dark City, but sadly, it's in VHS, not disc. I have a working VHS player still, but I think I'm one of the few who still do.

Just to add to your fears of a "national i.d. system", Luis: did you ever wonder what would happen if google or yahoo decided to use all the info they have ala Big Brother in 1984? Governments don't need to do anything anymore. Yahoo and Google's already got everything on us.

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