In the hit video game Metal Gear Solid, there was a character who captured the imaginations of gamers everywhere. This character was named, Psycho Mantis.
The character made the claim of being able to read your mind. When confronted, he would use his ability. The jaws of gamers all over the world collectively dropped as he uttered these famous words:
“You like Castlevania, don’t you?”
This trick was achieved by reading the player’s memory card, and if any save data from other Konami games was present, this would be used to determine his dialogue.
This wasn’t his only trick. He also made the claim of being able to use telekinesis. He would demonstrate this when players set their force-feedback controllers down on a hard surface. This was simply accomplished by activating the controller’s vibration.
When players attempt to fight Psycho Mantis, it was likely a one-sided affair. He could avoid the player’s attacks with ease. It was an instance of the game cheating by reading the player’s controller inputs. After many, many attempts, frustrated players wondered just what it was they were supposed to do.
Suppose that an enemy similar to Psycho Mantis actually exists. Suppose that, rather than one person, something like Psycho Mantis is actually a system. Is the public at large up against an enemy like this? Do we have clues that this may be the case?
Suppose you’re at the supermarket one day, walking down the frozen section. The frozen burritos catch your eye. You think about them for a moment, then decide against them, moving on.
Within the next few days, when using an app on your phone, an ad pops up for frozen burritos. That seems oddly specific. You may have already known about targeted ads, but that seems tailored directly to you, and it’s especially concerning considering you haven’t been looking up burritos on your tech, and you weren’t even using your phone when you were considering those frozen burritos. Yet, the algorithms knew your recent considerations well enough to serve you an ad based on them.
How is that even possible?
The technology available today is capable of feats that would have appeared magical just a couple decades ago, and that’s just what the general population is aware of. Whether you know it or not, the technology being used by millions of people is building psychological profiles on them based on seemingly insignificant things such as how they type or text, their search engine history, the sites they visit, how long their browser tabs are open, what they purchase, and who they connect with on social media.
If a person uses a dating site and then starts seeing ads for diamond engagement rings, they’re seeing the ad algorithms at work!
It’s getting to the point that the targeted advertisements are starting to resemble the results of mind-reading. It’s troublesome, and one might wonder what it is people are supposed to do about these real-life mental predators.
Perhaps our hint is in Metal Gear Solid.
In Metal Gear Solid, Psycho Mantis seemed unbeatable. However, his “connection” to the player’s “mind” (actually the player’s controller) is through controller slot one. If the player physically disconnected the controller from slot one then inserted it into slot two, the player could still move Solid Snake (the main character), but Psycho Mantis would no longer be able to predict his movements. From there, Psycho Mantis is very beatable.
It might be time for us to consider using alternative devices and social media platforms, seeing that the tech oligarchs aren’t strongly considerate of the general population’s notions of ethics and privacy.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”Edward Bernays, Propaganda