The poster boy of Covid-19 lockdown, governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, has had an epiphany about how to reimagine his state after Coronavirus. A post pandemic vision for economic and social reconstruction that we should all pay attention to.
His epiphany, though, runs the risk of being a little less new green deal and more big tech (side) deal so we should be concerned that a large chunk of the green vibes floating around New York could be the greenbacks heading to Bill Gates.
What Corona seems to have taught Cuomo is that human contact is a bit passe and robots are the new cool. After all, how many driverless cars caught the virus? How many bats and pangolins have you seen infecting Amazon robots stacking boxes in the warehouse?
In a flashdrive of digi-genius Andy's decided that teacherless schools, nurseries and colleges alongside doctorless hospitals, pharmacistless pharmacies (try saying that after a few drinks) and general people free everything (check Amazon) is the way to go. His newfound drive to win ‘Governor of the Planet 2020’ means he's going to do everything possible to hit the much coveted Corona target of zero infections, hospitalizations and deaths and zero second waves by taking the human part right out of the equation.
The government of New York has figured out that the way to hit the target is to keep EVERYONE permanently at home and to invest in twitter because they announced that their workers can work from home 'for ever' which means they might also have discovered a vaccine against death.
So New Yorkers should now work, shop, exercise, eat, prey and make love - yep, you guessed it, at home. Period. Until death do us part. After all, there's a nifty little Microsoft, Google or Facebook for everything else.
Wanna go to a park? Zoom up your local park warden. Want to visit the museum? Hit up Google Arts and Culture. Wanna date? May as well do as much as you can online until there's a robot for that. Want privacy? How very 90's of you. And wanna to do some gardening? Come on! There's astro turf for that!
Cuomo's new big tech wheeze will work right up until the day that he wakes up, smells the coffee and realises that the good ol’ days of the Coronavirus might have been a walk in the virtual park compared to a cyber virus that crashes a delivery drone up his rear end. That turns Bezos' robots into a bunch of smart little organised droids who want tonnes more money for taking over humankind and has robo cops hacked and reprogrammed to rob every bank in the city at the click of a Tesla chopper.
The sad reality is that Andy's not wrong. A little misdirected perhaps, but not wrong. We should strive for a more automated world. We should want technology to enhance, augment and improve our lives and our children's future. We just need to make sure that we adopt technologies that end up setting us free and not taking over our privacy, our liberties and our wallets. The best technology should enhance our lives and support our physical world. Not take it over. Unless of course you live in a banana republic.
We will have to pay for this. The problem with web 2.0 is that it ushered in seemingly free apps that we indirectly paid for by sacrificing our data and security to enable the ‘open access’ and endless ads. Web 3.0 should be about the subscription economy. We should have a choice between an advertising free, privacy guaranteed Facebook costing a few dollars a month and the current version. The same with messaging, email, calendar - even content.
If we want an ad free, privacy secure future we’re going to have to sacrifice a few Starbucks coffees to pay for our private social networks. This will prove to be good for us, if not so good for Zuckerberg. We should never forget that it's our consumer choices that fuel our future. Our wallets dictate the pace. Tech titans are not dictators - we can just buy an alternative at the flick of a digital switch.
So Andy, next time you want to reinvent your planet, maybe let David Attenborough bend your ear away from Schmidt-I-promise-I'm-not-a-plant-sent-by-Google-or-is-it-Alphabet-now and play it safe. Stick with rewilding Central Park. Just make sure to keep the bat's and pangolins at bay.
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