Proyecto Visión 21

“You are not in the system” and other existential challenges

Francisco Miraval

I like to take classes at a certain college. Last week, at the beginning of a new semester, I went to that college and, right before the first class, I was informed that, in spite of having previously completed my enrolment, I was “not in the system.”

The receptionist asked for my name and last name, but she couldn’t find me in “the system” (apparently, some kind of autonomous sentient entity who communicates only with selected people.) I gave her the confirmation number I got when I enrolled in the class, but it was to no avail.

Clearly, not being in “the system” meant to me at that time literally “not being” at all. I was offer the option of beginning again the whole registration process, something that I know I did before and I did it at the proper time, long before the deadline.

I decided it was not my time to take that class and I hope to take it sometime in the near future. Then, just two days later, I got an intriguing email from my phone company offering a significant discount if I switched to a different plan. To take advantage of the offer, I just needed to go to my account and check its availability in my area.

I went online, entered my account username and password and… nothing. An automatic message told me that was the “wrong combination”. I double-checked everything and, once again, “the system” rejected me. I called customer service to solve the issue and the representative confirmed I was not in “the system”.

How is it possible not to be in the system if I have been with your company for more than a decade? I asked. There is no way for me not be in the system.

I was then told the company upgraded “the system” used for customer services and sales and that, for some unknown reason, all my information has been “purged” (that’s the word the representative used.) Once again, I had that sensation of ceasing to exist, after being defeated twice into non-existence the same week by a mysterious entity, “the system.”

It was a very interesting situation. Here I am, a real flesh and blood person talking in person or over the phone with another flesh and blood person who can’t accept I truly exist because my existence can’t be verified, not even if I physically there, by an a-human, in-human, anti-human, or trans-human entity, “the system.”

Then, I become really concerned when I read a story about Professor Nita Farahany, who teaches law and philosophy at Duke University, saying in a the very near future intelligent robots will be able to read our thoughts, both current and past.

And I became even more concerned when I read that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that very soon we will be able to establish a direct neural connection between human brain and supercomputers.

It seems, therefore, that “the system” is real and growing.

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