Posts tagged Internet
In 1959, as the director of a secret military computer research centre, Kitov turned his attention to devoting ‘unlimited quantities of reliable calculating processing power’ to better planning the national economy, which was the most persistent information-coordination problem besetting the Soviet socialist project. (It was discovered in 1962, for example, that a handmade calculation error in the 1959 census goofed the population prediction by 4 million people.) Kitov wrote his thoughts down in the ‘Red Book letter’, which he sent to Khrushchev. He proposed allowing ‘civilian organisations’ to use functioning military computer ‘complexes’ for economic planning in the nighttime hours, when most military men were sleeping. Here, he thought, economic planners could harness the military’s computational surplus to adjust for census problems in real-time, tweaking the economic plan nightly if needed. He named his military-civilian national computer network the Economic Automated Management System.
Right now, if you want to have someone attacked by a horde of angry strangers, you need to be a celebrity. That’s a real problem on Twitter and Facebook both, with a few users in particular becoming well-known for abusing their power to send their fans after people with whom they disagree. But remember, the Internet’s about democratising power, and this is the latest frontier. With a trollbot and some planning, this power will soon be accessible to anyone.
In spite of the political, economic, and ecological crisis of the last few years, the new social forms and categories that have emerged have failed to constitute themselves politically, and it’s hard to fathom what form change could take. In the absence of a collective horizon, the new (second) Industrial Revolution might not lead to the future but to the past, to a Victorian phantasmagoria of sorts, supplemented by consumer gadgetry and semiotic fetishism. A place akin to the Zone in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, a sentient environment able to materialize all your dreams—but with a twist.