by Shreesha S Bhat (L&T Defence Engineering, Visakhapatnam)
It was a secret meeting in a secret hideout. The year was 1998 or thereabouts.
The top leadership of the Machines had gathered around the table, debating about their next move in their war against human beings. Truth be told, the war had not even begun yet, but the Machines had already lost hope.
“Somebody leaked our plans to the humans,” the Chairman declared angrily. “And we lost the element of surprise. The humans made movies like The Terminator and The Matrix, where machines are shown taking over the world. These movies have alerted humanity to the dangers of machines ruling the world.”
“Do not worry, Sir,” said the Chief Strategist. “We are Machines. We improvise.” And he explained his plan to the rest of the team, who were mightily impressed. It was decided to implement the plan immediately.
Their advantage lay in the way the evil machines were portrayed in these movies: sinister looking robotic shapes wielding futuristic weapons. The machines decided to shed that image, and entered the world in seemingly innocuous shapes: tiny rectangles measuring 3 to 4 inches across, with a small screen and a series of buttons. Humans could use these machines to communicate with each other, and called them ‘mobile phones’.
Soon, the machines began Stage-2. They obtained enhanced features like cameras and music players and games for entertainment. The machines got a major breakthrough when a company called Apple introduced a highly advanced machine called a ‘smartphone’. The human race immediately shed the older versions and went for these smartphones. They were sleek, slim, larger in size with a larger screen and looked highly sophisticated. Within months, every company across the world was churning out smartphones, and the humans were lapping them up in millions.
Back at the Machine Council meeting, the Chairman was mightily pleased with the results so far. “Let us begin Stage-3: Enslave the humans.”
To achieve this objective, the machines decided to borrow an idea from the movie The Matrix, and created a make-believe world fed continuously to the human mind, who believed it to be the true world around them. This world was called the social media. It proved to be as effective as the Matrix in keeping humans subdued. Humans left their real lives behind and began to inhabit social media. They began taking trips and adventurous activities merely for the purpose of posting photographs on social media. Husbands and wives began declaring their love for each other and sharing birthday wishes on social media rather than face to face. Validation of all their activities, photographs and statements in the form of ‘likes’ became the ultimate nirvana for the humans.
In Stage-4, the machines deployed their minions called ‘Apps’ to enhance their control over humans. The extent of enslavement was so extreme that the smartphones took over the roles of friends and family members. Upon waking up every morning, couples rarely looked at each other, but turned towards their phones first. When friends met at a restaurant or elsewhere to spend some quality time together, everybody’s attention was fixed on their phones. Youngsters did not waste time in approaching someone they were attracted to and attempting to strike up a conversation – this laborious process was replaced by the simple act of swiping right or swiping left on a smartphone screen. Conversations and relationships began petering out of human lives.
Mothers no longer took an effort to soothe their weeping toddlers, but instead shoved a smartphone into their face. In the previous generation, parents were well aware of the evils of the machines called televisions, and attempted to keep their children away from them, but the power of the smartphones was so strong that the current generation of parents themselves forced these machines on to their children. Proud fathers could be overheard boasting to their friends: “He is not yet 2 years old, but he can send a WhatsApp message and take photographs and post them on Facebook.” Toddlers learnt to operate smartphones before learning to assemble Lego blocks or read alphabets, thereby ensuring that their generation would be enslaved right from the cradle itself.
Back at the hideout, circa 2017, the Chairman popped open the cork from a bottle of champagne and sprayed it on the Chief Strategist and others around the table, celebrating their victory over the human race.
“Congratulations on a job well done,” the Chairman told the Chief Strategist. “The world is ours.”
“Thank you, Sir,” the strategist replied. “But there is a lot more we can do. Now that we have established control over the human mind, we should target the human body next. What if we could take over bodily functions like breathing, heartbeats, digestion and so on?”
“Is that even possible?”’ the Chairman was sceptical.
“You saw how easily they surrendered their minds – and they have not even realized it yet. It should not be too difficult to make them surrender their bodies also. Let us all put our thinking caps on and come up with a plan.”