Data Manipulation in Gamer

In a world where data is in everything we do, what happens when someone starts to manipulate it?

As Kemode says in “The Sense of an Ending”: “Given this freedom…you can of course arrange for the End to occur at pretty well any desired date” but what he really means here is that the power of prediction through data manipulation is the real danger.  There is no actual End, but by manipulating what we perceive to know, this “data” a terror can be produced all the same.  In our world, in this digital era, data is becoming increasingly more important.  It contains information about everything we are, someone can steal it and replicate you online.  In Gamer however, data is no longer an abstract thing, 1’s and 0’s floating around in cyberspace.  Data becomes tangible, real nanocells receiving and transmitting data inside the human body.  Castle, the creator of the technology, in turn becomes the modern manifestation of a god.

At this point, Castle has the freedom to manipulate data.  He can actively change things to the way he sees fit.   What’s worse is that when Kable comes to kill him, he expresses his desire to enslave humanity.  There’s no moral grey area in this movie, Castle is clearly an evil person with a God complex. Humans become the data that he manipulates as a mean to an end.  Kemode writes “we do not ask that they progress towards that end precisely as we have been given to believe”, but with the power to manipulate tangible things as an extension to the ability to manipulate data, we can see how an individual may be able to create an “apocalypse”.  In Gamer, humanity has allowed technology the ultimate hold on society, failing to realize that it is a man-made construct.  This technology, in turn, has given Castle the ability to turn the entire world’s population into slaves.  While this might not fit the contemporary for of apocalypse, where humanity is destroyed, the enslavement of humanity is not far behind.

With all its over-the-top violence, gratuitous nudity, and rampant drug use, Gamer may have missed the mark, but is the underlying message there really so hard connect with?  When we allow ourselves to become directly manipulated by data, essentially becoming data ourselves, it’s not hard to see how we could be controlled by another individual.   Enslavement?  Probably out of the question for a long time, but what about being enslaved by fear?  What happens when, all of the data we have willingly given up is used against us?  In the latest Captain America a program is created that can kill someone who may deemed to be a threat any time in the future just by interpreting their data that people so willingly share on the internet, another example of how allowing the wrong people the ability to manipulate technology can go very wrong. Would we really be willing to sign away our freedom for the power that technology grants us?  If you look around and see just how much people rely on phones, things that are created and controlled by a select few people, you can already see parallels to the fictional world of Gamer.  What if Castle had the ability to look into every phone in every pocket in the world?  It may be hard to comprehend at this time, but just think about the recent NSA leaks.  If anything, it demands that we stay vigilant to our freedoms, lest the wrong people obtain the power to manipulate the data we’ve become.

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3 Responses to Data Manipulation in Gamer

  1. That’s a great point about how they manipulate data in the movie. I think the most interesting implication of that is that it leads to this kind of skewed sense of reality. It’s unclear what elements of the movie are gameplay vs reality. It brings up some serious questions about real world consequences.

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  2. Steph Roman says:

    Haha. I like how you’ve pretty much compared Castle’s fucked up control scheme to us (real people) allowing ourselves to become data and statistics. We’ve become enframed by the technology we created. Humans have become standing reserve, both in the film and in life. I think you will really enjoy Foucault’s discussion of the Panopticon in Friday’s readings and consequently Alexander Galloway’s analysis of the distributed network. These works are both concerned with how power and surveillance function with each other, and how the power is manipulated (like data).

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  3. larsondanger says:

    Damn, I didn’t make the Castle-NSA connection until I read your post. If you read mine, the one about free will, I talk about similar stuff. Is that perhaps what Shaviro meant by Gamer says a lot about our current society? If we have the NSA now, are nanocells implemented into our brains a destination down the line?

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