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The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear An Industrial Welding Helmet

Some of my colleagues in the sci-fi writin’ n’ readin’ demographic are keen as buttons on all and any breakthroughs and shiny new apps, what I call naive technoboosterism.

Well, here’s a development that should give many of us pause for thought. Now corporations and governments are using cutting-edge software to generate believable online personas, complete with web pages, back stories, twitter accounts and other interwebby paraphernalia. These online masks are then used by operatives as cover for anti-progressive postings on forums of every kind, although usually popular ones where debates on corporate behaviour are carried out. George Monbiot has done a piece on this:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/02/23/robot-wars/

Quote –

“As the Daily Kos has reported, the emails show that:

– companies now use “persona management software”, which multiplies the efforts of the astroturfers working for them, creating the impression that there’s major support for what a corporation or government is trying to do…..

– human astroturfers can then be assigned these “pre-aged” accounts to create a back story, suggesting that they’ve been busy linking and re-tweeting for months. No one would suspect that they came onto the scene for the first time a moment ago, for the sole purpose of attacking an article on climate science or arguing against new controls on salt in junk food.”

Man, are we fast-forwarding into the Gibsonian future, or what?