Disney's launching an ambitious ubiquitous computing initiative for their parks; opters-in will be tracked throughout the parks by inconspicuous device that will customize their experience, step by step.
Digital cameras disguised as lampposts will be scattered throughout the park. If you click on a handheld remote control, the lampposts will snap your picture as you wander around, then deliver the photos over the internet to your computer, from which you can order coffee mugs, T shirts or whatever emblazoned with whichever of them you prefer.
As your child approaches a costumed Disney character, she squeals in delight (or runs away) as the character greets her by name. The person inside the costume was tipped off to your family's identity by chips embedded in your souvenir autograph book. Then, as she passes attractions and other sights, the Mickey Mouse wristband you bought for her squeaks out various fun facts, enabling her to lead her family around like a tour guide. Just when you think you're safe at home, the wristband springs to life again triggered by infrared prompts from Disney TV programs.
Pirates was the last ride Walt personally supervised, and we'd thought it was sacrosanct. But Debra had built a Pirates sim in Beijing, based on Chend I Sao, the XIXth century Chinese pirate queen, which was credited with rescuing the Park from obscurity and ruin. The Florida iteration would incorporate the best aspects of its Chinese cousin -- the AI-driven sims that communicated with each other and with the guests, greeting them by name each time they rode and spinning age-appropriate tales of piracy on the high seas; the spectacular fly-through of the aquatic necropolis of rotting junks on the sea-floor; the thrilling pitch and yaw of the sim as it weathered a violent, breath-taking storm -- but with Western themes: wafts of Jamaican pepper sauce crackling through the air; liquid Afro-Caribbean accents; and swordfights conducted in the manner of the pirates who plied the blue waters of the New World. Identical sims would stack like cordwood in the space currently occupied by the bulky ride-apparatus and dioramas, quintupling capacity and halving load-time.
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
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