Mark Zuckerberg like James Halliday from Ready Player One – and that’s the problem

The film Ready Player One portrays a future when the real-world is so unpalatable, people prefer to live in a virtual reality created by the late, all-powerful founder James Halliday.

The story, set in 2045, came to mind while watching Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testify before US Congress on Wednesday.

Who controls what you see? (Image: Pixabay)

As Senators asked questions about what exactly this platform – which gave Russia access to American hearts and minds – was doing to the country, Zuckerberg kept referencing the awesomely humble beginnings of the company.

Like in the film, questions of the platform’s merits were answered by the earnestness of the founder’s personality.

Swap Halliday for Zuckerberg and the concept of the inventor-god ruling over his subjects has eerie parallels. In the film and the real world, any political question is subsumed by the personal.

“I believe deeply in what we’re doing,” Zuckerberg assured. Facebook began in his dorm room at university, he said, a point he kept repeating.

The film is fun but the vision of one tech whiz lording over the imaginations of the masses is, from a political perspective, frightening and repulsive. It’s a world where users hand over their autonomy to a platform with no process for these people to come together and make their voices heard.

Ready Player One is just entertainment. But it’s telling that a depiction of a tech world is founded on such neo-feudalism.

Unfortunately, Facebook represents a kind of neo-feudalism built around Zuckerberg’s vision. And it appears to be running headlong into our shared reality, the one with rules, rights, and real-life consequences.

Read the rest here at The Age.