Alice has never known a world without the Internet. Naturally, since she was born well after the advent of the World-Wide Web. But depending on how old she is, she may not even remember a world before Web 2.0. After all, in just a couple of months we’ll be coming on thirteen years of Google.
It’s a little terrifying, in a breathtaking sort of way. Does she remember life before YouTube? Do you?
Alice’s genius in Kamisama no Memo-chou is dramatized, but in many ways it isn’t unique.
Are you familiar with the concept of technological singularity? If you aren’t: It’s a hypothetical future scenario in which technological advancement becomes self-sustaining and self-improving. Usually, people believe that we’ll reach this state through the invention of superintelligent AI, computers that can think– and innovate– many times faster than the human brain. (While robots may have yet to pass the Turing Test, we do have some capable of making independent scientific discoveries.)
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking the future might be much simpler. Much digital ink has been spilled over the rise of “cloud computing,” wherein society relies on shared high-powered, connected servers to store information, rather than on personal computers. However, the Internet has also changed the way people consume information. Anybody who’s lost an evening or three to Wikipedia can tell you how true that is.
All the information of the world is just a few keystrokes away. Literally anything you want to learn, you can. What an elegant development, a “cloud” for the brain! If you can’t beat human intelligence, enhance it.
There is one rather odd and head-scratching thing that Kamisama no Memo-chou does, calling Alice a “NEET detective” with her crack team of NEET investigators, when the very nature of what they do precludes NEETdom in the first place (“Not in Education, Employment or Training”). But I think we’re meant to let go of definitions. They are NEETs not for lack of revenue, but in that they exist outside the system.
Tied to nothing, beholden to no one, this Scooby gang charges forward with computerized confidence to solve the mysteries of the world. Not quite transhuman, perhaps, but it is definitely a kind of power.