Cyberpunk dystopias: a little too close to home
I remember the early 90s very well. Video rental stores had an almost unlimited offer of futuristic and gloomy movies. It was practically impossible not to come across any of them. We reproduced worlds that seemed unreal on our screens from magnetic tape. Humans merged with machines, virtual universes, hackers, digital currencies, and crazy things. This took us into worlds that had been described decades before in cyberpunk literature, and now it was our turn to make a visual impact with them. All of this happened when we barely knew the concept of the Internet (in the real world).
We learned about cyborgs, robots, and artificial intelligence through those stories. Still, we also learned a lot about the control of societies, the manipulation of information, and the lust for power inherent to our species. Once again, cinema acted as a teacher and alerted us to what was coming. And many things began to happen as reality was filtered through our dreamers’ glasses. A mechanism was set in motion, swift, unstoppable, and with a wake almost impossible to ignore. Technological progress was here, we were no longer indifferent to it, and it became exponentially overwhelming.
Here we are now, 30 years later. Those crazy things became a fundamental part of our lives without realizing it. We coexist daily with artificial intelligence. We have devices millions of times more powerful than the first computers that occupied entire rooms, and now they barely occupy the palm of our hand. We have hackers, digital currencies, and super-powerful companies fighting for the most precious asset of this era: information.
But as if all this were not enough, we also have a global virus, which changed things abruptly and forever. In just a few days, our physical spaces were wholly reduced. Our homes became temples, and contact with the outside world was through virtuality. It didn’t take long for the technology giants to accelerate the creation of what they had been cautiously developing over the long term: virtual worlds. One day, we heard the word “Metaverse.” Upon further investigation, we understood what the technological giants had already understood. Whoever controls the virtual world will influence the real world, and perhaps the easiest way to control a world is to create it.
While some are doing their best to expand our perspective into outer space, such as Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) with its future space tourism, others do their best to create a universe within our home. And so serious is the topic that a veteran like Facebook, changing its name to “Meta Platforms” (NASDAQ: FB). And here we are, in the midst of code, blockchain, virtual artwork, self-driving cars, spaceships, mega-corporations, and virtual wars. A few years ago, we were spectators of amazing worlds captured on VHS tape. Today, perhaps involuntarily, we are the protagonists of those fantasies.
If you didn’t believe in cyberpunk dystopias before, I recommend you start doing so now. Perhaps you’re living in one.