Stuff That Happened In Dave Eggers' The Circle That's Now A Reality
The Debrief: SeeChange Cameras will never happen right? Oh wait, they already have.
For those of you that haven’t read it, The Circle was a 2013 book by Dave Eggers that describes the life of a girl who joins a huge internet company (think a dizzying amalgamation of Google, Apple and Facebook) and becomes a key player in their vision for the future, which involves (and there’s no surprise here for an internet company) complete openness and the end of online, and IRL privacy.
It serves as a cautionary tale; it concerns a world that, at the time, was just about far enough removed from our own that we felt safe, but just recognisable enough to make you feel a little bit unnerved. Now, two years later and with a film in the works starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, which of Eggers' predictions that seemed too futuristic to be real in 2013, are actually a thing now? Spoilers, obvs, if you haven't read the book. Which you definitely should do.
Teeny tiny cameras that people can leave anywhere to create a live stream that anyone can pick up. Politicians wear them round their neck to record their entire day in a bid to appear ‘transparent’ and prove to voters that they’re not up to anything untoward. Creepy right? Well, we've actually gone a lot further down this road than you'd think. Sales of Dash Cams, those cameras people affix to their car dashboards, went up 918% from 2014 – 2015 and, since the tragic Michael Brown shooting in America, body-cam technology has become a hotly discussed topic. As of November last year, police in 41 of the 100 most populous US cities used body cams and 25 cities had plans to implement them. In the UK, the Met Police have vowed to fit the majority of its officers with 20,000 body cams.
The reasoning behind both dash cams and body cams are that it's easier to prove there’s been no wrongdoing on the part of the wearer – just like The Circle’s politicians. Not so futuristic now, eh?
A bracelet that records and monitors how healthy you are at all times always and saving that information for future use? Just like those little silver bracelets employees of The Circle wear. Wearable tech that records and monitors health at all time always, sure this has been a thing for a while but, since the introduction of Apple Health and The Apple Watch and three new Fitbits last year, wearable health technology shipments have gone from 13.45 million in 2013 to 34.25 million in 2015.
The implementation of technology to fight crime in the book is already well underway in its own way in the real world. Just listen to the recent RadioLab podcast about new surveillance technology that’s being trialled in the US and Mexico, which works by constantly taking aerial pictures of cities, meaning that criminal activity can be traced at all times; not all that far from people using live streams from SeeChange cameras to hunt a man down. And, as for the idea that The Circle are working on in the book to fit microchips to children, this kid from Somerset just willingly did it to himself! He can now control his mobile phone, unlock doors and share contact details using his hand.
Tech companies based on massive campus-like villages that serve your every need are nothing new and The Circle’s campus that featured everything from dorm rooms to shops to after-hours socialising spaces was pretty recognisable back then. But Facebook’s new $460 million building in Menlo Park, California, has nearly everything an employee need in one BUILDING. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the new space, which opened in May, is based on the ethos that, ‘We feel you just can’t build a corporate campus, it has to be integrated into the community.’ The office is the largest open-plan office in the world and fits 2,800 employees. There are places to eat, there’s a nine-acre roof terrace complete with 400 trees. Mark Zuckerberg has a desk right in the middle. How’s that for being ‘transparent’? Oh, and the wider area? The campus is set in Menlo Park, California. Where one in four people already work for Facebook. Sound familiar?
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating