Isn’t “Cloud Computing” How The Matrix and Skynet Got Started?

Isn’t “Cloud Computing” How The Matrix and Skynet Got Started?

Tell me that little bastard isn't checking his phone for important Facebook updates


Is it just me, or did we as a people forget the lessons learned about empowering computers in films like The Matrix, The Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey?  (I haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, so if HAL 9000 doesn’t get his smarts from stupid humans enabling him, disregard.  I respect Kubrick movies in concept but have only seen Full Metal Jacket – true story.)  “Cloud computing” has been all the rage lately (except occasionally right after an EQIX or FFIV earnings miss); cloud computing is apparently a euphemism for “letting some magical server farms in the sky keep track of your software/data/private home videos.”  So instead of having to have your iPod with you, one could theoretically just log into his amazon/google/whatever account and have access to all his files.  Instead of logging into a VPN, salespeople can access their software via the “cloud,” because most salespeople are busy working in the “field” and not padding their expense accounts with unnecessary (but delicious) Marie Calendar cheesecakes.  (Editor’s Note: I cannot be certain this last sentence is factually correct, except that bit about salespeople not padding their expense accounts – that is definitely incorrect.)  Isn’t overly empowering our machines (that somehow are pissed off at their treatment even before they become sentient), exactly how the evil computer networks get their start in basically every sci fi movie?

I’m actually pretty concerned that it’s too late to reverse this technological trend.  Have you walked down a fucking city street lately?  As I’ve noted before, the majority of the people in NYC are not capable of walking down the street without levying a social tax on those of us who aren’t complete fucking assholes.  These days it’s almost impossible to make it more than 1/13th of a block without running into some dickhead (or dickheadess, women are just as bad or worse) who is glued to his phone and can’t be bothered to occasionally look in the direction where he/she is headed.  I think the Unabomber had at least one thing right in his manifesto – technology is not for everyone.  (Full disclosure: I stole that line from an episode of NewsRadio, but mostly so I could say I stole something from Joe Rogan.  Seems like a good conversation piece.)  The other day I almost had to tackle a lady who was walking directly in the path of a taxi going through a pretty routine green light.  She was gracious enough to give me a disgusted look, insisting that “she had it.”  I should probably have just let her die while reading Aunt Fran’s updated status – I’m sure there was something crucial going on.  (Honestly, I probably wasn’t as concerned about her getting obliterated as I was about having to deal with the graphic imagery for the rest of my life.  I once saw a traffic-law-abiding dude on a motorcycle get creamed by a car whose driver had fallen asleep – mangled limbs and Reservoir Dogs-levels of blood are not exactly my thing.)  Making things worse, there are tons of blind people in my neighborhood who bravely – and routinely – navigate the grates, holes and dogshit of Chelsea and would certainly treasure even five minutes of eyesight per day for their torturous commutes.

The irony of the eyesight situation is probably lost on the self-absorbed assholes of the world.  This cloud computing shit isn’t gonna make things better either, seems likely to just make the need for instant gratification even instanter.  I think the ability to have everything you need at your fingertips is basically making life worse – no one appreciates anything.  I remember back in my day, the magazine rack at Skaggs Alpha Beta was a pretty sweet source of information, but it took a little bit of effort to get there, and after about five hours you had read all the Soccer Digests, Sporting Newses, Electronic Gameses and NFL previews they had onhand.  Then you would have to circle back in a couple weeks to see what new shit they had.  (Editor’s Note:  Soccer was pretty big when I was growing up.  Billy Caskey, Tulsa Roughnecks represent!  Although, fuck you for winning the Soccer Bowl the year after I moved to the ‘sas.)

Even after ESPN was born, you still had to catch a late Sportscenter back in the day to keep up completely up to the minute.  I remember back in the fall of 1988 – after I’d failed out of college and was back working at Taco Bell – I worked a long closing shift when the 49ers played the “Cardiac” Cardinals and nobody knew who won and I’d missed all the late Sportcenters.  I did what any self-respecting 19-year-old with no money and no prospects would do – I went to Waffle House and waited for the newspaper guy to fill the racks at the gas station next door at around 4:45 AM.  Fucking Neil Lomax.  (Cardinals won 24-23 after trailing 23-0; who cares though, Niners won the fucking Super Bowl that year.)  Nowadays only losers hang around gas stations waiting for sports scores.

Despite my skepticism about the likelihood of eventual machine domination, I have had a long relationship with one of the more prominent cloud server companies, which even has a somewhat sinister name: F5 Networks.  What the fuck are the five Fs?  Faceless Farms Fucking Folks Forever?  Futuristic Factories Frightening Fainthearted Fatasses?  Who knows?  The company won’t even reveal what it stands for.  Even more sinister, FFIV has been prominently involved in blowing up my trading accounts on two separate occasions, the dotcom meltdown of spring 2000 and again in early 2002 as I squandered much of my investment banking summer bonus (you meant well, though, TARP I!).  Never much for learning from my mistakes, I’m again long FFIV in a couple accounts with less disastrous (though still horrendous) results.  (Our investment fund is off to a bit of a rocky start – thanks fucking Google, for having earnings the day before options expiration.  Yet another example of how the cloud will ultimately fuck you.)  But fuck it, I’m long and strong FFIV since we all know the robots will win eventually; I’m gonna accelerate the process by taping my phone to my right eye – it will serve as a (quasi-) 4G eyepatch and also obscure the most persistent fucking under-your-eye rash in the world.


These pricks don't look qualified to walk down the street either




(You see that Like This button?  Go ahead and Like This while crossing the street without looking, for irony’s sake.  Cool.  I don’t really know what it does, but someone said for every Like you get paid $2 by AT&T – not sure if that’s true.)

6 thoughts on “Isn’t “Cloud Computing” How The Matrix and Skynet Got Started?

  1. ‘Sup, Chilly? Nice piece. I’ve long been concerned about (and opposed to) the rising ubiquity of ‘the cloud’… I just think we’re becoming way too dependent on all this tech. It’s no bueno. I don’t like not knowing where my info is going or where the info I access is coming from. This whole online backup (Carbonite, etc.) is the same thing: we’re putting everything in the hands of ‘the man’. Not me, man… I backup everything to discs. It’s things like this that confirm my belief that I’m in no way overreacting by having twelve guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and a month’s worth of dried food and medical supplies in the back of my bedroom closet. It’s coming, man.

    Actually, I think they’re onto me. The only place in town that carried Big Kats stopped selling ’em (dammit)… I’m pretty sure that’s a message from the Trilateral Commission that I know too much. I may need a place to hole up for a while.

  2. You sound pretty well prepared, Sam. If you walked around the streets of manhattan for a day, you’d probably need impulse control not to put your guns and ammo to good use. BigKats have, I’m afraid, gone the way of Fiery Habanero Doritos…to that delicious snack food farm in the sky…

  3. They’re discontinued?! Aw, say it ain’t so, Joe! Well, that cuts it. I’ll simply have to figure out how to build my own.

    What are the carry laws in NY, anyway? I really want to visit a place that has open carry. My sister lives in NM, and I’ve been trying to find a good reason to go visit ever since I learned that NM is open carry (just going to visit because she’s my sister isn’t a good enough reason). I want to cruise around in public with my AR strapped to my back for awhile. I’m hoping it’ll make me feel like a big man… or at least like D-Fens in ‘Falling Down’. Maybe I’ll get strapped and pay a visit to the Kit Kat corporate office, which is nowhere near NM.

  4. I don’t know much about guns or gun law – during pistol training in the military, i was told that if i had a gun and someone was about to attack me, i’d have a better chance throwing the gun at them than trying to shoot them – but I do know that there are a lot of tattooed kids with tuned up cars in NM. It’s a lot like arkansas, only more meth-y. (Or maybe less meth-y, i get confused. I think maybe I only think more because of Breaking Bad.)

  5. Chilly,

    Why are some columns laced with profanity and yet others are discreetly edited? There are a lot of fucks in this column. Is it because you think the issue of keeping machines dumb so important it merits the straight up fuck as opposed to a #uck?

  6. Another great question, thanks Strappy! I used to be worried about whether the Big G would penalize me for my occasional discussions of drinking, banging women of margin social standing, and writing cursewords in my text…this was, of course, brought on by the fact that I maintain a strong Pagerank of 0, yet get (almost) hundreds of hits daily from the G itself…so the answer is, I’m a pus*y.

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