How Would You Hardwire Our Future?

On Sunday night,…

I watched a 2009 science fiction movie called Hardwired. It was a futuristic view of what could happen if any one company gets too powerful.

In the movie Cuba Gooding, Jr. played Luke, a decorated war hero who found himself battling corporate America in, as the intro. noted, a few years from now.

Brand logos were everywhere. Gatorade was painted on the Taj Mahal, Trojan on the Washington Monument, Pepsi on the moon, and the Statue of Liberty’s torch illuminated Playboy’s bowtied bunny. Beyond the images shimmering from the high-rise office towers, the street scene was bleak with boarded up storefronts and homeless gathered around barrel fires. Corporate guards watched over the few occupied store windows; police were non-existent thanks to a bankrupt government. The radio reported post-depression economic news and said officials denied the ever falling snow was a product of a recent nuclear fallout.

The story moved quickly, and Luke’s old blue car got broadsided. He suffered severe head trauma while his pregnant wife died at the scene. A thumb scan at the hospital revealed that Luke’s medical insurance had expired, so he was triaged to Ward F, as in failure.

But corporate “Hope” Industries moved in to rescue Luke with a computer implant that would make his brain work again. There were just two side effects: Luke lost his memory and he began to see ads. Everywhere. He was told the only way to make the visions go away was to buy the watches, gum, or whiskey being sold. He was a test case, as were hundreds of others out there who had suddenly become property of Hope Industries, victims of an experiment worth billions of dollars in potential advertising space.

Luckily, Luke’s computer brain was hacked by citizen advocates and one ex-Hope employee. They stopped the ads and intercepted the corporation’s control. The vigilantes were fighting Hope Industries that had, as it turned out, plotted the car accident and changed Luke’s insurance status. After much keyboard tapping, a few gun battles, and a trail of dead corporate yes men, the lead villian (Val Kilmer) was killed, and Luke was saved. The group didn’t rid the world of the problem though, and the computer remained in Luke’s head. It ended with a commitment to continue fighting for the future.

On Monday morning,…

I watched the news. AT&T acquired T-Mobile, making it the largest wireless provider in the world. Cell service will soon be added to more rural areas. Connection addicts may be happy. I am not. That retreat you know about…the one where you can hide from the cell phone and all its users…will soon get “served” by big, corporate America.

In Hardwired, only a few souls were willing to stand up against Hope Industries. They were the characters who showed signs of love, caring, and devotion. They didn’t need a fancy watch to be happy; they needed each other. Sci-fis are fantasies, and they can sometimes be pretty silly. But they often take a serious look at the future and force us to question it. They make us wonder if we’re headed in the direction we want to go. They give us a chance to set a new course.

What do you want the street to look like a generation from now? Or two? Or seven? How about those rural getaways? Are your actions in line with your vision? It’s a tough question, but it’s one we must answer together, today.