Ed Snowden just after receiving a standing ovation #TED2014 pic.twitter.com/EJ0Ql5278NIt was a very cute trick to have a Snowden robot come in to TED in Vancouver. I am sure the typical TED audience must have felt they were very cool and advanced and enlightened, but that feeling of being cool and advanced and enlightened the the purpose for the strange stew of unrelated factoids that make up a TED conference. One minute its quantum physics, then schools in Micronesia, then bird migration in Europe.
— Steve Jurvetson (@dfjsteve) March 18, 2014
The talks vary from catastrophic dystopian images of climate catastrophe to optomistic of the potential of technology or just good will.
Its almost as if it does not matter what the subject matter the TED speaker is presenting, what assumptions they make, or if they are telling you that your grandchild are doomed or not: the high does from the sheer eroticism of innovation and information flow. This is the ecstasy of simulated reality, conferences designed from the beginning to only ever be short YouTube videos, five minutes on one subject matter and then shift. No attention span required, just a Spielberg defined sense of wonder at the potential of future technology.
Spielberg has become as much famous for his lack of focus as anything else. He flows from the Holocaust, to cute aliens, to evil aliens, to nightmarish futures to Lincoln. His moves affirm and deny, horrify and satisfy, entertain and bored. In turn they are nothing but the ability of a director and his audience not to pay attention, to concentrate, to master.
Thus when TED made his surprise appearance as a robot boy, wearing a badge on his robot body of two bars. Isn't it all just too cute, a room for the imaginative futurists see the robot boy talk about some kind of nightmare dystopia that he says has already happened in America with a cute little badge around his robot neck. Yes American liberty is not only doomed, it no longer exists, the freedom of speech that everyone in the room is engaging in is already an illusion, how horrifying. And how wise and innovative it makes everyone participating feel, now lets hear about Bill Gate's work in Africa to make himself and the rest of us feel better.
The fact that Robot boy had a source didn't seem to matter. Not in a binary world which takes ON/OFF switches for the fundamental atoms of existence. TBL has assigned Snowden the value of Hero in the binary of Hero xor Villain.
And where is the source of Robot Snowden. Somewhere in some other reality there is a city called Moscow, where a complex called the Kremlin exists. This inconveniently real place is providing Snowden not only asylum, but somehow they are allowing him access to these robot AVs, internet connection, someone has to pay the bills for all this stuff. And in Russia someone has to approve this stuff, you don't just get to call in to a TED conference if you are Pussy Riot. Putin's Kremlin has to say yes. And they say yes for a reason.
At the source of Robot Snowden the Kremlin is shutting down the last remaining voices of Russian descent as Putin aims to annex Crimea in to the Great Russian Fatherland. As Snowden tells Americans that they are not free and they all live in an Orwellian nightmare, and as the participants all tweet about how they are not free and living in an Orwellian nightmare, Tatars, Ukraine's and Jews are leaving Crimea. A new Cold War is being started from this Kremlin that is source of this Robot Snowden.
Oddly in Second Life people seem to be upset when they learn that the girl they have been having a virtual affair with it actually a middle aged man or an underaged child. But this is only possible because for a while the player, in the eroticism of communication, took the message for the reality. Only in the bliss illusion is it possible to have a collapse of revelation.
Events coming from Russia will have a profound and negative impact on the lives of everyone at the TED conference. Not as profound as on the real losers, the people of Ukraine and Russia who are entering a dark period of their history, but still negative. Perhaps like Greenwald they think that if they don't tweet about it it won't touch them, but the truth is their Internet connectivity to the world has become itself a blinder. What is emerging in Russia is a new threat to global freedom and security that will impact everyone, a threat behind the Robotboy Snowden and his news of American evil.