Name: Kim Cao
Professor Husne Jahan
Class: EWRT 2 TTh 11:00 - 1:15
The Circle essay
June 22nd, 2017
Technology – Where Utopia and Dystopia meet
The information age is growing excessively fast; all-new advanced technologies are created every day to build a new world called utopia, where everything is perfect, and everyone is happy. Talking about utopia, the writer Jill Lepore mentions in his article “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction: What to Make of Our New Literature of Radical Pessimism” that it is a dream place, in which “women and men are equal, children are reared by the state, machines handle all the work, and most people, having nothing else to do, spend much of their time at the gym, obsessed with fitness.” That idea is also shown in the episode “Fifteen Million Merits” of Black Mirror, “life on earth in an energy-scarce future has been reduced to an interminable spin class.” However, as always, following utopia is dystopia – an unhappy world. “Dystopias follow utopias the way thunder follows lightning” and if “utopia is a paradise, a dystopia a paradise lost.” There is always a dystopia in a utopia since “utopia is a planned society; planned societies are often disastrous.” They seem to be opposite, but somehow tightly related, “utopians offering promises, dystopians issuing warnings.” The book The Circle of Dave Eggers is an excellent explanation of that relation. The book introduces many new technological applications, such as TruYou, SeeChange, ChildTrack, and SeeYou, which sound amazing at first, but lead to a darker world later.
Firstly, TruYou is a tool using users’ identity to replace all the complicated passwords that accounts use for online activities. To keep users’ information in security, users are required to create an account, a password, an account payment, etc. However, with different websites and applications, internet users need different accounts and passwords, which take much effort to memorize. TruYou is created to handle all of this; the only thing needed is one account, and an identity to access to all other websites. Thanks to that benefit, “most TruYou, most internet users who simply wanted simplicity, efficiency, a clean and streamlined experience, were thrilled with the results” (Eggers, 22). On the other hand, when it’s considered more deeply, some questions can be asked. What would happen if that account is hacked? All the information and access would be stolen, leading to a big problem. How does TruYou differentiate if the user has a twin, since it uses identity to access? Twins look mostly like each other, so one can gain access to the other’s account easily. How could a disabled person buy something online while TruYou requires a user to do it by him or herself? For example, a man has an accident on the road, which causes him to be unconscious and needs to access to insurance online to pay for medical fees. Only he can do it, but due to unconsciousness, he can’t. It is a considerable issue.