As I pass through my 79th birthday I offer a cathartic rant - without worrying about whether its parts cohere:
I am the white collar equivalent of the coal miner in Tennessee Ernie Fords classic “16 Tons” lyric line that provides the title of this post.... except that I am shoveling information in bytes rather than shoveling coal. The tendrils of google extend into all my internet activities, it is a virtual prosthesis. I am symbiotic with the cloud, losing access to it is like losing the use of my limbs. Yuval Harari has it exactly right - Google’s A.I. knows more about me than I know about myself... what YouTube movies, programs, and classical piano performances with scrolling scores I want to watch, where I go (my google maps) and what I do (my google calendar).
Google knows what I think and write from https://mindblog.dericbownds.net/ (powered by Google’s Blogger platform), as well from my google cloud drive that holds my important legal and financial documents. I put my piano performances on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/DericPiano. My techie son’s Google workspace account supporting the bownds.com domain provides me with a firstname.lastname@example.org email address and youtube without advertisements. Underground Google fiber was recently installed on my street and suddenly this week I have 1 GB down internet and google drive cloud storage of 1 terabyte for the same amount that I had been paying another fiber optic provider for 300 MB down with no extras.
My only non-Google platform, http://www.dericbownds.net/ (the archive of my lectures, writing, personal and laboratory history), is a historical relic dating back to geocities.com and now called 'Yahoo Small Business." I tried switching mainly to Apple’s iCloud in early 2020, because it is more protective of privacy, but after a year of trying I have given up and returned to the evil empire. Apple’s web interface for word processing is slow and klutzy, has unnecessary prompts, is crash prone, and too frequently requires relogging into iCloud.
Governance of me, along with the rest of the human herd, is quietly being transferred from nation states - whose internal conflicts render them ineffective - to an oligarchy of IT companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, along with their European and Asian counterparts. Tech companies are pretending to be governments, as in the quasi-governmental posturing of Amazon and Facebook . Their cloud based artificial intelligence analyzes and manipulates what we want and sells it to us.
After doing numerous posts on the sociopathy of social media, you might think I would practice what I preach and abstain from having a facebook and twitter account. But no, I maintain both accounts (Deric Bownds and @DericBownds) to re-broadcast the posts I compose on the Blogger platform that masquerades as coming from mindblog.dericbownds.net. I don’t look at tweets or re-tweets on my twitter account, but I do check facebook for news of my family and two facebook social groups.
I am continually amazed by my occasional looks down the rabbit hole of social media (See How Roblox Sparked a Chaotic Music Scene) Realizing that this is the generation that contains our future leaders reminds me of Willian Butler Yeats' poem “The Second Coming” in which he seems to have seen it long ago:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
What's not to enjoy? Sit back and read Niall Ferguson on "The Politics of Catastrophe" as our humanity slowly and surely chaotically merges with the great A.I. in the cloud!