thingrant

An Internet Thing

Somebody has at last explained to me what The Internet of Things is:  “the online business of machines talking to each other”, as she put it, was instantly understandable. It depressed me somewhat, but at least it made linguistic sense.
The low feeling stemmed from a number of factors. The idea of machines being programmed by people (who can’t think of a better group noun than The Internet of Things) strikes me as a little like Einstein getting his primary education from an amoeba: had that pertained, it would have needed a lifespan of 270 years for Albrecht to get to the theory of relativity.
The ability of all human beings to be hopelessly contradictory helps explain why every computer program in existence is a complete crock. I have a Greek friend – far from technophobic – who simply says “Avoid any idea requiring a program”….because it was designed by a species that sucks. For example, this afternoon whiie passing a Presse here, I saw a headline announcing, ‘PM CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY AGAINST LE PEN, SLAMS SARKOZY’.  The conclusion we’re asked to reach here is that solidarity begins by establishing a 24/7 punch-up. Even momentary use of the left cortex would suggest that’s an outstandingly daft concept, but it is far from atypical. Right across the Western world at the moment, for instance, political ‘leaders’ from Donald Trump via Hillary Clinton and Theresa May to Francois Hollande are explaining how the way to preserve our liberties in the face of fascist fundamentalism is to pass laws that take those liberties away. Jean Jacques Rousseau, eat your heart out.
All that said, the worst aspect of The Internet of Things (or TIOT which, if you say it quickly, appropriately sounds like ‘twat’) is the idea that machines should be in charge of decisions affecting live species, however indirectly. There are a great many people in my country of birth who marvel at Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith’s inability, as a fully paid-up example of Homo sapiens, to behave in a way befitting such species membership. But the moment you start imagining a computer programmed to reflect and develop IDS’s policies, life begins to feel like The Outer Limits, minus only the gags.
Just as terrifying is the idea of The Trumpmatron….a machine designed to carry on the work of Donald Trump after his reassuringly inevitable demise. Just as Donald says there are some good bits in Mein Kampf, so too I find glimmers, here and there in his belief system, of common sense – most notably his desire to end the pc multicultural phobia with giving offence – a cancer that has created perhaps the greatest human multivariate oxymoron, the laid-back Californian liberal Nazi hippy ecologist.
But 92% of DT is, lets be honest here and employ the American technical term, Like Todally Ferkin Weeyerd. For starters, the bloke is orange. And above that orange visage, he sports a hirsute arrangement that looks as if he’s wearing a rug. I mean, why would anyone that rich adopt a hairstyle that makes him look follically challenged? Does he do it, we wonder, to try and hoover up the votes of every Democrat factory-wired to root for the sad guy, however unsympathetic that attic-dwelling oddball might be?
On the other hand, take a look at what Trump and his most likely opponent next year Hillary Clinton have been saying about internet freedoms. Actually, it doesn’t matter which one’s views on this you read, because they are identical:

“We have to close down the virtual networking capacity that enables [Islamic fundamentalists] to operate…of course, people will call this an attack on liberty, but they need to wake up to the threat involved”.

“I say that we are giving the initiative to terrorists by allowing too many internet freedoms…and guess what, the usual people will say that this is a restriction of our freedoms, but they are silly people”.

The latter of these is Trump, and the former Clinton. It partially explains why – although I favoured Hillary over Odrama eight years ago – I now think her election to the Presidency would be a disaster for domestic rights, and an endangerment of peace abroad. As Secretary of State, it seems to me she went irreversibly native in the same way that The Black Dude did on the regulation of Wall Street.

In the end, even The Internet of Things generates the kind of black humour that appeals to me. It would be wonderful, would it not, to watch a fully-briefed machine interrogating Jeremy Hunt about Hotcourses, Gordon Brown about his Iraq War budgets, Tony Blair about secret codicils with his chum Dubya, Leon Brittan about his sexual predelictions, Wolfgang Schauble about his ambitions, Angela Merkel about her past, and perhaps even Nigel Farage about his future.
But reality intervenes here to suggest that we already have human naifs interrogating human machines. The future (unless people recognise the need for our strength in numbers to finally count for something) is likely to be heaviy censored saps asking lifeless machines frightfully polite questions.
As always, how this spans out is entirely up to each and every one of us. That is, if we manage to dodge the drones. The global market for drones is now worth £2 billions.
And on that happy note, welcome to Wednesday.

Last night at The Slog: When MPs forget they’re being watched