Monday, March 19, 2018

Dubai is Babylon 2.0

I get the feeling a lot of people still don't quite take Dubai seriously and see it as a weird artifact of a prolonged oil boom that brought shiploads of eff-you money to a bunch of desert sheikhs who never quite figured out what they wanted to do with it all.

I've heard a lot of talk about Dubai (or Dubaibylon, if you prefer) being a tacky LARP of a Sci-Fi city, a monument to Futurist techno-kitsch and plain old bad taste. But it's time for that talk to stop. Nobody's kidding, or fooling around in Dubai. 

What they're doing over there is serious as a heart attack.

What they are doing in Dubai is rolling out all the toys that have been in development for the past 70 years and beta-testing them. What we're seeing in Dubai now is eventually going to be exported all around the world, particularly this pernicious "Smart City" concept.

At select locations, of course.

The future is indeed here, and as William Gibson said it's not evenly distributed yet. And it may never be. 

Neal DeGrasse Tyson looks at Dubai and sees the future, but I look at it and see an autocratic police state built on the backs of slaves (virtual and actual). A burgeoning techno-feudal duchy in which freedom, democracy and privacy will most definitely not be coded into the operating system.

There's also a full calendar of One Worlder conferences in Dubaibylon, something I think everyone needs to think very seriously about. They range from the innocuous to the bizarre, but they generally seem to be very well-funded and attended.

All the usual suspects attend these little get-togethers; the whole range of Davos-Bilderberger-UN-G20 gasbags that jet from forum to conference, planning on how best to reduce the rest of us to penury.

Speak of the Devil; Armand Hammer's pet gasbag was on hand for this most recent convocation of grifters and con-jobbers. And of course, he trotted out his tired-ass "melting highways" canned corn and all the rest of it. 

Probably wouldn't go over too well in the northeast US at the moment so it's fortunate he was in the desert. Unfortunately, he doesn't know any other tunes.

Now that kind of sounds like a threat. Or maybe I'm just being paranoid.

Is that "world peace through plasma energy" or "one race through plasma energy?" The layout's a bit confusing.

All my science peeps out there, can you give us a glimmer of what kind of plasma energy would bring about world peace? 

Or do we not want to know?

Signed with whom, exactly? If you don't mind me asking.

Leaders over whom, exactly? 

OK, so how long before D::Wave sets up a branch office there? Or have they already?

As will Dubai itself. But you always start small at the proof-of-concept stage.

In the real world, "connected" and "tech-enabled" are antonyms for "relaxing."

Which of course is a feature, not a bug.

Like I was saying.

In other words, the Robocops are Ready.

I think it's pretty much a given that data will be used to discriminate. Like that's probably the actual reason DNA is being collected and sequenced. Seen Gattaca recently? 

Yeah, like that.

So in other words, no hard-copy for when your records are inevitably erased. Pissa.

The thing that worries me is that those things look like they could double as euthanasia kiosks. 

Tell me I'm wrong. Please.

Bullies are indeed being watched in Dubai. Of course everyone else is as well, but that makes for a depressing headline, doesn't it?

Yeah, that's the way they roll in Dubaibylon- it's always the Guinness Book or bust. Mind you, they're spending that kind of money because they expect a return. Don't forget that Dubai is one of the largest- if not the largest- air travel hubs in the world. 

Funny, I always thought the Holodeck would look less stupid. Then again, there's that holodeck scene from Star Trek: Generations. 

Nothing could look stupider than that.

"Social media suite." Actually, that kind of sounds like a euthanasia kiosk, too. Or maybe just a place where you pray for one. 

Been on Twitter lately? Then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Come to think of it, those things look like euthanasia kiosks too, only with propellers. I'd bet good money they'll end up that way for some. 

I'll walk, if it's all the same to you.

"Mind-controlled drones." A double-entendre, presumably. Hopefully.

For whom, precisely? 

And there's where we'll pick the story up when we return to the sunny gulf coast...