A fun Prime Day surprise: Amazon and Microsoft are currently vying for a $10 billion contract to build the Pentagon its first “war cloud.” Alexa, shower me with CBD, please. According to the Associated Press, the cloud “would store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the Pentagon to use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.” Alexa, search for bunkers with one-day shipping, please. I don’t want to sound un-American but I feel speeding up war planning is not really at the top of my personal goals right now. But please don’t tell my Echo that; I’m trying to stay on its good side.
Let me just get one thing straight right off the bat: I don’t have any idea what the cloud is. I’ve never known; I will not ever know; I don’t have room in my brain for it. Where is the definition of the cloud? It’s in the cloud. All I know is that my documents are in the cloud, my music is in the cloud, I’m fairly certain that my coworkers are all clouds. To paraphrase my girl Alice from Wonderland, life today is getting cumulous and cumulouser. In business meetings, instead of telling people I need some time to think about ideas, I say, “Let me precipitate on that and get back to you.” Cloud living!
That said! The only war cloud I can abide is one made by Storm from the X-Men and only if Storm is played by Angela Bassett. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. The rules in are in the cloud! But having a war cloud constructed by the company from which I order electric toothbrush refills and diaper genies on my friends’ baby shower wishlists? I just don’t know, hon. Alexa, play “You Need to Calm Down.”
I have never felt more awkward about not reading the terms and conditions than I do right now. I’m over here typing up my weird manifestos on Microsoft Word and sending GIFs to coworkers on Outlook (just kidding, I do not do that) and meanwhile the company is embedding the nuclear codes in an Excel spreadsheet.
Wait a minute, was Mine Sweeper for real?
How does this come up in a business meeting? “You know how Shelly Pfefferman is always nosing around in her children’s lives on our hit show Transparent? What if that but a sentient robot connected to the Pentagon! We can even give it a different, progressively more chic white wig every season! Fun for the whole family!”
“It’s like Windows 95 except the window is into the brain of every living being on Earth.”
Who knew the end would come via drones that look like those little flying toasters from the screensaver. Alexa, what’s the weather like in dystopia?
“What faster than the dialogue on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? A smart missile that is in constant communication with your thermostat (and secretly wants to be a standup comedian). If you like The Man in the High Castle, just wait.”
Call me a luddite but I’m not quite sure we’ve successfully made the case for giving huge corporations and incredibly intelligent computers war-making technology. Like, forgive me for being all “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” but literally 65% of all sci-fi disaster movies are about this very thing and none of them are like “you know what, the computer actually solved everything by making war fast!”
The only good scifi computers are HER and the computer from Star Trek and even on Star Trek the holodeck got a little out of pocket sometimes, so it’s going to be a no from me.
I didn’t expect to go full Marianne so early in the election season, but have we considered… a peace cloud? I’m serious. If we have the technology to take an unspoken thought I have about an item of clothing I want to buy and make that item of clothing follow me on Instagram for the rest of my life, surely we can figure out how crack the code of peace. If I’m going to be manipulated, being manipulated into an equitable and non-violent society seems like a good trade-off. (And to the Mr. Turk’s caftan that will not leave me be: you are sold out in my size and I need this torture to stop. I am calling the war cloud on you!)
But a war cloud?! What in the Sarah Connor’s bangs is happening in here on this day? Cut to a year from now, you log on to Word and Clippy shows up all singed and missing an eye. It’s like “I can’t help you write this cover letter right now, buddy! Alexa released the Kraken and I’m trying to re-stabilize civilization over here. Oh God! They’ve breached PowerPoint! It’s all lost. Remember me! And learn how to use the Oxford commaaaa!”