Is A Tech Dystopia Coming?
ADWEEK|December 3, 2018

Maybe it’s already here.

Josh Sternberg

Over Thanksgiving, I had several conversations with nonmedia people about living in a tech dystopian present. They asked me all sorts of questions about Facebook and Google, artificial intelligence and 5G, data and privacy, and blockchain (of course) because, you know, I’m a tech editor.

They asked if they should delete their Facebook account (yes), if AI is really coming for us (maybe), if 5G will really be the transformative technology we say it will be (it depends). But then they asked about the implications of giving our data to brands, or how safe it is to use “smart” technologies, and the discussion turned toward literature and how similar questions of technological advancement have permeated society for quite some time.

Three books—1984, Brave New World, The Circle—each present an argument about tech. 1984, we’re taught, is about a Big Brother surveillance state; Brave New World shows us how technology can numb us; The Circle shines a light on what it means to be fully transparent. Each, in its own way, brings technological determinism to the front of the class, parading it as a fait accompli. The march of technology cannot be stopped—the vision of a dystopian future where technology towers over us, scares us, comforts us, entertains us.

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