Monday, 22 March 2010

The Future: A Kafka-esque Nightmare?

Just recently I enquired of an on-line forum I'm a member of if they could assist me in tracking down a document I vaguely remembered was once discussed by the members. The manager of the forum - very helpful fellow that he is - managed to track down the document in question: it was on my computer! Or at least, I was the one who had posted it on the forum from my old computer several years before. He was even able to supply verbatim the discussion that provided the original context for posting the document. (Any computer nerds reading this will have to pardon my ignorance as they fall of their chairs laughing at my naivety.)

I was amazed, and it got me thinking about how the words we etch on the ethernet with nary a second thought may one day come back to haunt us. In the hands of an imagined malevolent authority with an anti-Christian ideological bent, equipped with some sort of super-computer, we could all be quite easily caught up in a Kafka-esque* nightmare in the future. "You are all guilty until proven innocent", the cyber-bureaucrats would say (add a German accent for extra authenticity), adding with menace "and we have your words to prove it!"

The thought lends new shades of meaning to our Lord's caution that we will be judged for every careless word.

Note: Franz Kafka was one of the most seminal novelists of the 20th century. Born to Jewish parents in Bohemia in 1883 (d. 1924), in the then Hapsburg Empire, his German-language novels and short stories reflect themes of alienation, guilt, absurdity, and humanity crushed by bureaucracy.

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