Thursday, January 15, 2009

Help, Daemon is actually talking to me!

I barely slept anything tonight. A couple of hours after my latest blog post, I received the following email, and it kept me up with thoughts and ideas:

From: Daniel Suarez
Subject: Google Alerts and me...
Date: 14 January 2009 23:12:01 GMT+02:00
To: CJ

Hi CJ,

You're correct when you surmise we use Google Alerts as the nerve endings of our reader-relations system. I like to think of it as a filter that helps me cut through the galaxy of white noise the Web presents, and which gives me the communications I'm interested in. Automated? Somewhat...but similar to manually sifting through your junk mail at home and being pleased to find a letter from a friend.

BTW - Thanks again for your recent blog posts. They're a big help, of course, but also very interesting. Real-time, automated search has probably replaced half the Customer Relationship Management systems on the market.

Best Regards,

Daniel Suarez

Wow, this doesn't stop being cool, except it's almost getting uncomfortable to know that Daniel is noticing my blog posts like "a letter from a friend", just a tad "unheimlich". For anyone who have read his book, you will notice the same friendly, cool and unapologetic tone in Daniel's emails as in the communication from the Daemon. A sense of inevitability - he knows who I am and what will happen if I stop writing? Maybe nothing, but I for sure want to see how far the rabbit hole goes, so I reply:

From: CJ
Subject: Re: Google Alerts and me...
Date: 15 January 2009 02:12:26 GMT+02:00
To: Daniel Suarez

Hi Daniel,

Again, you really impress me, even made me laugh a bit :-) I thought of pinging you that I had written the new blog posts and thank for the books which should be in the mail, but now you made it before me.

Do you mind if I post this email as a comment to my own story?

Actually, this is getting almost a tad eerie, considering the book you have written. I really imagine piping a google alert RSS into a google docs spreadsheet or CRM would be very simple and maybe with the help of a few monkeys gathering and organizing intimidating amounts of information of people related would be doable.

Take for example that I googled for a torrent of the Daemon audio book, I didn't find one mind you, but had I, considering that you may read it would certainly have prevented me from linking to it. You're probably a swell guy, but these emails do leave a feeling of the Daemon peering over my shoulder. I have no idea what lengths (even within the restraints of the law) can be gone to pursue issues like that should they arise. The thought of the MPAA, or any opponent of opinions for that matter, with competence such as that in your system makes me shiver. The state is not my greatest concern for TIA.

Also, I don't mind somewhat automated correspondence, I'm myself all about exploring computers for making my communications better and more efficient.

Best regards, with an only somewhat weary smile ;-)

After sending the letter my night remains filled with thoughts - of total customer relationship management systems, of using the Mechanical Turk for circumventing CAPTCHA's and using systems like this to augment human abilities and for example exert pressure on behalf of anyone willing to pay for the service. What would stop it - Directive 95/46/EC ("PUL"), Interpol? I doubt it.

Law enforcment is already fighting a losing (or at least seemingly endless) battle against organizations such as the RBN and millions of zombie computers provided by people like you and me. Original Gangsters are at large over Europe and the Internet, and it's a bad idea to challenge Mr. Acar, but I'm pretty sure this is the case already when they are far away from sufficient information management to even notice that I am writing about them.

Mind you, I am not speaking of any computer virus running amok, but complex interactions between computer systems and people. Real companies, real people, real money and real motivations. The feeling of inevitability is growing and "Daemon" doesn't feel like cyberpunk anymore, can it be a prophesy? Has Daniel been audacious enough to make himself into the Daemon, or where would you draw the line?

This guy is an experienced system designer. He will be holding a seminar at Google in a few weeks, and I wonder what will happen when he is let into Blizzard? Feed them something cool, even something completely virtual, and that's at least 11.5 million potential footsoldiers within reach right away. In the book, the Daemon used difersified recruitment methods for different levels. Already World of Warcraft is huge, but I feel like we're watching a critical mass gather, starting a chain reaction of unforseeable proportions.

If Suarez is not gonna do it, soon someone else will. If no-one does it before, heck, I would want to do it. By buying the book, you are feeding money to the monster and enabling Suarez' empire to form and he sure is clever enough to grow it well. Frankly, by writing these blog posts, maybe I am a cog in this machine as well? Then again, the Daemon is said to treat it's own well...

(Update: Suarez held his talk at Google Tech Talks. Very nice, very interesting, check it out)

(Update 2: The talk at Long Now Foundation on "Bot-mediated reality" is indeed excellent as well. I can't embed it here, so you'll have to go there to watch it!)

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