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In the Cloud, No One Can Hear You Scream

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Have you seen the future? Have you felt its hot, Wi-Fi enabled breath on your nervous and sweaty neck? Don't worry: You will.

The future, in case you didn't already know, is all about the cloud. The cloud is, of course, that nebulous, supernatural high-tech storage space purportedly floating just above your head but which is really housed in an enormous server farm somewhere in Ohio, which will soon contain every possible bit of personal data about you -- your lifestyle, eating habits, music collection, photos, blood type, banking and drug preferences, hairstyle and sneeze fetishes, demographics about your kids, your dog, your therapist and your imaginary friend... everything.

Have you heard about the cloud? I bet you have. The cloud is the new oxygen. The cloud is the new Bieber. The cloud is the Next Supreme Step toward a gloriously sanitized uber-paradise where all worries vanish, all wires come unplugged and the cackling world government manipulates the whole thing very, very carefully.

Apple, for one, is all over the cloud. And if Apple is in on it, you know it must be magnificent.

But Apple is far from alone. Let us watch in mystified awe as the Ford Motor Company unveils a rather stunning new concept car called the Evos, perhaps one of the most gorgeous designs ever spit forth by an American car company that's not directly aping the Germans, and then proceed to stab the lovely little thing to death with one of the most terrifying visions of how this car interacts with the cloud -- and you, and the future -- that you will ever see prior to the 2012 apocalypse.

Watch and learn, awesome Blade Runner citizen of the future. We are told, in a swell Austrian dominatrix voiceover, that the Evos will communicate intimately via the cloud with... your house. Together they will calibrate your entire world: set room temperatures, arrange wake-up calls, coordinate work schedules, choose playlists, turn on the coffeemaker, fluff pillows, run you a shower, smack the kids around for forgetting to brush their teeth for two full minutes. You name it, the car and the house do it together. But that's just the beginning.

The all-electric Evos will charge itself via a giant pad on the garage floor. The car will (of course) map out a perfect route to work (wait, the future isn't all telecommuting? Never mind), tell you your colleague is running late, massage your prostate, read you your emails (emails? Still?), check your heart rate and plan your vacation even as it satisfies your wife's tingling needs by running her favorite vibration pattern on her Hitachi because in the future, real human contact is, of course, totally gross.

And it all happens by way of the cloud. Which is, naturally, jacked straight into your brain by way of some sort of RFID chip implanted in your sub-cortex when you were a fetus, and now the world is one giant, pre-programmed wonderland of perfect first-world intercommunication (in the future, poor people don't exist, which is... thoughtful) that isn't the slightest bit disturbing or insulting to all that is feral and dirty and good.

Which brings us around to the main point at last. For does not all this cloud talk sound vaguely familiar? Does it not all point to ideas surrounding, say, impossibly perfect sci-fi utopias, Popular Mechanics magazine covers, geek psychobabble, all the way up to the grand dystopian idea known as the Singularity, that twinkling, apocalyptic moment when our top futurists say artificial intelligence will finally surpass human brainpower, humanity will eat itself alive and the world becomes one giant iPad 1,000? Of course it does.

Does it not, furthermore...

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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He recently requested that you get over here and touch me now, that you also please help protect the conjugal sex fruit, and that you seem to enjoy always walking in circles. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...

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