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September 10, 2018

Dystopian Present

This summer I read 1984 by George Orwell. I had been a few chapters into it for a while, but finishing it really resonated with me. I realized each Party slogan made key points of politics, philosophy, and technology, which were all rooted in the real world the time it was written, but currently, the roots to reality are stronger than ever.
Basically, if you haven’t read the book, it follows Winston Smith, an inner Party member who is a dissident at heart, but cannot show it because of the constancy of telescreens, or audio and video recordings. The inner Party of Oceania is the fictional extreme of totalitarianism, and Winston rebels by writing in a diary (which is a crime), falling in love (also a crime), and joining a brotherhood against the Party (biggest crime of all, probably).
The creation and support of the Party itself was never explicitly mentioned in the book because the past has been erased by the government. One can infer though, that the creation and support of the Party can be explained by technology. As it is explained by Karl Marx, the increase in technology will lead to job replacement and public support of communism. Same goes with totalitarianism, because the people need something to rely on when their jobs are lost, which is a current reality for many low skilled workers, and the threat of automation of high skilled jobs with AI will be heightened in the coming decades.
In a survey mentioned by Kevin Drum of Foreign Affairs, ⅔ of AI experts agree there is a 50% chance that AI will be able to complete all human tasks (that’s right, all) by 2060. The Asian respondents predicted closer to 2045. If residents of a continent of prominently authoritarian nations predicts a faster rate of AI abilities, we are definitely in for some trouble.

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Read the rest of my analysis here.

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