TR: What other amazing features does the äppärät sport?
GS: Well, the RateMe Plus technology is its most important part; the fact that it immediately ranks you. You can load all your data onto it, and all your data is always open. You’re always completely broadcasting who you are.
It’s also much like the iPhone already is. Everyone streams in this future of mine. Journalism is dead, nobody really cares. So even as terrible things happen, what people mostly care about is their weight, their carbs, their pH factors, stuff like that. So one woman has a show, the Amy Greenberg “Muffin Top Hour,” where she talks about the size of her muffin top [her waist fat roll] as it goes up and down, fluctuates.
At one point people are dying all over in Central Park, the government attacks some of the people camped out in Central Park, but what she [Amy Greenberg] is mostly concerned about is the effect on her muffin top.
TR: In your book, America is a postliterate society, and we lost the ability to interact directly with one another. Did technology lead us to this point?
GS: In the book there are many culprits. I think technology can be construed as one culprit, but I think the main culprit is the fact that we are getting dumber. Whether technology enables this or not is an open question. But compared–relative to other countries in the world, we are constantly on the way down in terms of our scores in a wide variety of things.
This may not be so evident, obviously, at MIT, because the whole world comes to the Institute to get educated, but in terms of primary education, things are really bad.
What’s interesting is one study that the Times recently published about–children’s vocabularies are shrinking because their parents are constantly texting and typing away and they don’t have enough time to just communicate to the child.
So that’s something that really intrigued me and felt like it was already part of this world.
TR: In your book, why do you think that so many people allowed their äppärät to change their lives so much?
GS: When you’re with your äppärät there’s no permeability between you and technology. You are the technology. It’s constantly flashing around. I mean, the next thing is to incorporate it into the human body. So for example, it could be living inside your eye, so that your eye is basically a giant data point and you can learn to blink and manipulate the data that way. That would be very exciting.
TR: What other enhanced features do you expect in the äppärät version 7.7?
GS: I think eventually we will completely meld the technologies together. With each year, I lose about 6 percent of my humanity, so I think by 2018 I’ll just be mostly a walking app.
The äppäräts are also–they are a consumer device. The idea is to sell you things. That’s what the Internet does the best: it collects data from you and then it sells you a product. And so that’s what the äppärät is for. Everyone has one, and to be without one is not to be civilized, in a sense, in this civilization.