If I were to describe ‘Big Data is Watching You’ by Bruce Hartman in one word, I would say clever. The author has taken our present internet and the algorithms that are used to ascertain what adverts to send your way and has extrapolated from that to a dystopian future where Goozle Inc runs everything, and if you start behaving outside of your expected parameters, you’re in trouble. English® and every possible combination of words has been copyrighted and the only law is the Terms of Service, which has been replaced by the Terms of Servitude. And who runs this world? Caesar and Emperor Omnipotent (CEO) of Goozle Inc, of course.
In this future society of Goozle Earth®, the words ‘Big Data is Watching You’ have become a reassuring platitude that reminds the citizens that Big Data (God) is looking after you. So long as you’re being watched, you’re okay. No one questions that Big Data exists or that it’s omnipotent. Big Data knows everything and is behind everything, even Goozle Inc. And everything appears just fine until, as Smith does, you wander off the grid and discover sex®, the knowledge of good and evil, and the pursuit of Happiness.
This book is exceedingly clever and well-thought out. It’s entertaining, thought provoking and funny. Though written with a light touch, the humour is dark because the parallel to our present existence is all too obvious. Even though Goozle Earth® is fanciful, it challenges us to wonder if this is the natural outcome of our present course.
I highly recommend it for anyone who likes satire, dystopian fiction or who has an eye on the future repercussions of our present directions in society.