Google Backs A New Digital World, But What About The Real New World?

Dec 26, 2016
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Google is investing in a startup called Improbable. The stated goal is to create digital simulations of real cities, economies and biological systems. This made Romanian-born commentator Andrei Codrescu think of life under communism and that dream of a new world.

ANDREI CODRESCU, BYLINE: When Putin's hackers intervened in our democracy, Stalin stood up from his grave and applauded. Putin did what Stalin couldn't. If Stalin had had internet, he'd have built the communist dream of a new world with a few keystrokes instead of starving and killing millions of people. Putin, a would-be Stalin with internet, hacked his way right into the brain center of the U.S.

The Russian dream hacked the American dream, which is weird. But since they're just dreams, maybe we'll wake up tomorrow and say, it was all just a bad dream. And now here comes Google, just in time to create yet another new world to which we might escape. Can Google do it fast enough? Millions of people are now joining long lines of people pushing and shoving to get away from Putin, Erdogan, Assad, el-Sisi and other large raptors from the coming age of tyrants ready to bring us their new world.

It's like you're having a nightmare and are trying desperately to wake up only you wake up in another dream. Google's new world seems like a nicer escape at first, more flowers less fascism, but it's in truth haunted by an even greater calamity, losing Wi-Fi. That would be bad. We would end up back in the last nightmare we were in. All new worlds are virtual. But there is still a real world out there.

Maybe Google could use those gazillions their new world will cost to pay back the U.S. debt to China. That would be almost like waking up and giving Russians a problem. These days, I would say, don't mess with dreams, folks. Stick to the world you're in and fight to keep it real.

SHAPIRO: Andrei Codrescu's new book of poetry is "The Art Of Forgetting." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.