Monday, January 27, 2014

Optimism vs. Pessimism: "Ready Player One"

I finally read Ready Player One and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was and am bothered, however, by an oddness in the book.  The future it paints is far more bleak than hopeful, but there is a very real and strong optimism throughout.  The oddness is that, while the pessimistic side of the book seems real enough to be prescient: I wouldn't be surprised if a world like that exists several decades into the future (though I think/hope it is further off than in the book), the optimistic side is...well, another matter.

At one level the optimism is individual in nature and I very much share it.  In order for it to have a greater (global) presence, however, it relies on some institutional (governmental and corporate) footings that--in our real world--are already eroding, and even gone and which seem far more likely to be anachronisms in the future (in particular the absolute privacy enjoyed in OASIS).  It feels like a throwback to the 80's even more in this way: the characters are able to enjoy a level of privacy that was much closer to reality 30 years ago.

I hope I'm wrong, but as things are today, IOI is the reality we are going to face.  GSS--no matter how well intended people may be--is a fantasy.

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