Recently I stumbled across this amazing story: China building a city for cloud computing.
What a grand thing to do. Build a city for a computer. OK, technically it is a city for a lot of computers, but still. For the old and geeky enough, this is like reading a prequel for the Isaac Asimov’s Multivac stories.
I’m not one to be screaming “run for the hills” every time someone publishes a story like this. Even a story published yesterday that One in 50 Troops in Afghanistan Is a Robot does not disturb me much. Heck, the first time I saw the big dog in action I was amazed, but I was never under any illusion that it would be used as mobility vehicle for the elderly or to deliver food to cut-off communities in the winter. I knew they will attach the gun to it first chance they get.
But this cloud city genuinely disturbs me. For several reasons.
Firstly, the whole Cloud Computing, thin client, mainframe thing scares me. I like my computer to be mine, I like to hold the finger on its on/off switch. I also like the fact that I can use my computer to do what I want it to do. I find Cloud Computing disturbing enough even when the Cloud is in countries where I can be assured, within reason, that my privacy will be respected.
Would you use a Cloud host within a Great Firewall of China?
But what has disturbed me the most is this: Imagine an alien landing in the Cloud City. What would they think of us? An army of ants feeding, tending, grooming the digital Queen.
I’m not afraid of being shot by a machine. But I am afraid of being enslaved by one. When I was a kid, I was told that when I was 40 I would get into the car and say “take me home”. And it would drive me there. Maybe it would even make me a nice cuppa along the way. What I’ve got instead is a car which is telling me where to take it, nags if I go too fast, and orders me to take it to gets its oil changed.
Cloud City. Cloud nine, or the seventh seal?