“It’s not fair that having a ‘smartphone’ is mandatory to participate in society”

I didn’t think while reading ‘El Todo’: why Dave Eggers writing about it?, but: why don’t all novelists write about it? I think it focuses on the disease of our age. By the way, as he already did in ‘El Círculo’. My first question is: Why is it important to write about it?

It’s something I think about all day. This transformation of the human race is an obsession for me. I think this is probably one of the two most radical moments of human transformation: first it was the industrial revolution, and now this technological revolution that has transformed us into a different species in 20 years.

And I wanted to write about it.

I wanted to reflect on it, examine it, criticize it, and scare the reader into self-examination. I think we have embraced the surveillance culture to a very disturbing level, and I think our decision to surrender more of our lives to algorithms is very disturbing. I see that we are becoming an increasingly passive and indifferent type who does not have the confidence to make decisions about his life. We are in the middle of a transition, moving from a species that values ​​free will and controls its own destiny to a species that needs a machine that tells it how to live.

I think the thing that scares me the most while reading ‘The Whole’ is familiarity with what’s already going on. It is a dystopian novel, but the future it describes is near. Do you think we will end up like in the book if we continue down this road, idiots?

I think we are at a point where the road forks in front of us. If we continue to give power to monopolies like Amazon, Facebook or Google, if we continue to give them our free will, our money and our data, this and other companies will abuse that power. However, I think we still have time to reflect on what makes humanity special and reclaim its value. The interesting thing is that the consumer has a lot of power.

“I see that we’re becoming an increasingly passive and indifferent species who doesn’t have the confidence to make decisions about her life”

What does that mean?

In other words, if consumers turned their backs on Facebook, Amazon and other monopolies that harm society, if people canceled their accounts and used other means of communication, these companies would go bankrupt within two years. Facebook can be shut down at any time if people make this decision. All the power these companies have is the power we give them, and we can take from them as well as we give them. But we have to decide while we have room to do it.

Do you think this margin is depleted? Are we close to the point of no return?

Look, there’s a very strong movement right now, especially here in the San Francisco area, to replace everything exceptional about humans with machines. They teach the machines to write poetry, paint, do their homework. They have a saying that what makes a human unique can be done better by a machine. To me it comes from a very strange place, a dark, scary place.

What do you mean?

Why would anyone be interested in teaching a machine to write poetry? The origin of such a thing can only be nihilistic and dark. They’re trying to replace everything wild, unpredictable, and beautiful about being human with a world of cold and automatic algorithms. Anyone who tries to do this is seriously ill, and unfortunately there are many of these sick individuals who have too much power.

“Why would anyone be interested in teaching a machine to write poetry? The origin of such a thing can only be nihilistic and obscure.”

But like you said: ultimately it’s the consumer’s decision.

I’ll tell you something. One of the reasons I wrote this book was because a friend once told me, “I don’t trust myself to get through the day.” And he had decided to use a set of “apps” that helped him plan his day, appointments, calls, exercises. Why? Why? Because he no longer trusted that he would make the right decisions. I see this every day: people who believe algorithms can do a better job than they do. With your health, your agenda, your children. They no longer trust themselves. I think there is always a desire for people to let go of some responsibilities, but more and more we are at a point where people at all levels do not trust themselves or other people.

There are people who cannot move from place to place without GPS.

Exactly the same. Because they often think humans are wrong and often machines are right: more precise, more efficient, fairer, even! Algorithms are becoming the new religion, the new moral code that tells us how to best live life. We’re going in that direction to replace any subjective opinion with numbers. And this is very scary.

It’s still a way to lose humanity. Like many things I’ve read in her book, I was both laughing and scared with TrueVoice, the app that tells you what to say.

Of course, because the poor people working at El Todo no longer know what to say: they’re always worried about saying the wrong word or the wrong sentence. By the way, something that already exists. The combination of constant vigilance and the fear of being judged by the old person’s words leads to the creation of TrueVoice, which at any given moment tells you what to say or whether what you say is true or false. People don’t like doing everything right, eating the right food, getting the right car, always saying the right thing, etc. In this world of anxiety, we have this pseudo-science that tells you everything you need to do through data. As a result, we will be increasingly deprived of the ability to make decisions.

“Algorithms are becoming the new religion, the new moral code that tells us what is the best way to live life.”

The book also invents an app that tells people what is beautiful and what is not. Do you think the day will come when the beauty of things is decided by an algorithm?

I’m sure and I think it will be soon. I thought of it as a joke, but a few weeks after the book was published, a friend of mine said that at a dinner in San Francisco that was the theme: people are talking about building an app like this. The scary thing is that I’ve tried to put these books five or ten years later, but most of the time I find that what I describe there happens within months of publication. I believe that all bad ideas that come to these people’s minds will be implemented, and the question is, shall we embrace them or fight against them?

I think Kiki is the funniest and scariest character in the book. It is particularly frightening in that it shows how a person can be enslaved when surrendered to the domination of technology. What exactly does Kiki’s dreadful anxiety mirror?

I think Kiki’s insecurity starts with her son, who is studying at El Todo’s school. Look, when I was a kid, my parents used to come to school a few times a year, one event, graduation day, and that’s it. My parents took me out, I don’t know… 20 photos a year? I think I have three photos from my childhood in one year. Well, now what is expected of parents is that they know what their kids are doing every minute and the teacher thinks they should send you 10 or 20 photos a day and a summary of everything that happened that day and when it was. When the kids come home you should take hundreds of photos and share them with everyone you know. There are thousands of new responsibilities that make parenting crazy. It is a mixture of expectations we impose on ourselves and reinforced by social networks.

Poor Kiki. Live helplessly.

Because even if you know what your child is doing every minute, you feel that you are not doing enough. And if someone isn’t strong enough to resist it, the system will spit them out. Kiki represents the person who is crushed under all the expectations placed on him.

“There are a thousand new responsibilities that drive daddy crazy”

It reminds me of teenagers who can’t live without their phones.

Yes, Kiki represents that too. I know many teenagers who are ending what we call ‘tech rehabilitation’ here, who are so overwhelmed by technology that they have to be sent to the mountains or far away to get away from screens and cell phones. I believe that the adolescents of our time are under more pressure than any other generation of adolescents in history. With all this, they have to live with hundreds of messages a day, with all the information coming to their phones from all over the world, with all the misery in the world, with every horrible event. And they never, ever rest.

too much for them.

So much for a developing mind. I think we don’t give them enough thought when we give them a phone call or put them in the hands of monopolies like Facebook. Then we wonder why they burned. This is too much. The mobile phone is a very powerful device for a 14 year old. There is a scene where Kiki has one foot on the ladder and she doesn’t know what to do, how to get where she needs to go because nobody tells her, because the machine doesn’t tell her. We must ensure that this new generation is not too dependent on these devices to function without them.

The ‘troglos’ in his book is resistance. But this is passive resistance and all they desire is to live apart from it all. What would a ‘troglo’ look like today?

It is possible to be a ‘troglo’ today because although it is difficult, we still have a choice. I don’t have a smartphone either, and most of the time it’s very, very difficult to work without a smartphone. Having a phone is often necessary to participate in the democratic society that surrounds us, and I think this is wrong. I find it irritating to assume that you have $1,000 in your pocket to buy a device manufactured by a private company and enrich a private company so you can participate in life. It’s not democratic, it’s not fair. The ‘Troglos’ cling to their independence, the freedom to choose an analogue life, and not to divulge their lives through these monopolies.

“The ‘Troglos’ cling to their independence, the freedom to choose an analogue life, and not to divulge their lives through these monopolies.”

In a way, we’re talking about governments giving these companies more power.

Of course because when they force you to have a ‘smartphone’ for a living, they are powering those monopolies. It is very strange, it has never been in the history of humanity to give money to a private company to achieve democracy, education, health. I find it more and more difficult to live with my first generation phone, but I am fighting to live the way I want to live, not through the channels of these monopolies. There is no such thing as the Troglo People, but there are many of us who resist giving our free will to a handful of companies.

Source: Informacion


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