0206 - Disruption - 2021.09.13
One of the criticisms Forward has received is that this supposedly utopian paradise, necessarily, features widespread surveillance, and is, therefore, actually a terrible dystopia.
I believe that every advance we make as a society is a tradeoff, and we don't always get to choose how that trade goes. Providing a civilization with the protections of law, necessarily, requires the writing and enforcement of those laws by fallible entities and some sort of tax to pay for it. The invention of money was, simultaneously, the invention of poverty and debt. The telecommunication network that provides you with this comic also.... y'know. It's the Internet.
Of course, most of these advances aren't choices at all. We'd certainly have a difficult time un-inventing the Internet, let alone money or laws. Usually, the question is not whether or not to incorporate something into our society, but how to mitigate its inevitable harmful effects.
On the one hand, I firmly believe that anyone who says "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" should have their bowel movements and masturbatory habits broadcast on the nightly news.
On the other hand, I also firmly believe that the aforementioned fallible law enforcement officers should have their on-duty activities recorded, and if they block or turn off their body cam immediately prior to an incident, it should be considered an admission of guilt and evidence of premeditation.
As with any other tool, cameras are good or bad depending on how they're used and who they're used against. Zoa, as a robot, is partially made of cameras, and cannot not be made of cameras. Casual demeanour notwithstanding, Zoa is fastidious about what it records, how that data is stored, how it is erased, and how it is communicated to others. In fact, Zoa is required to be fastidious, in the same way that it is required to obey the law, respond to emergencies, and not impersonate a human.
Forward is not a utopia. Utopia and dystopia, like positive and negative infinity, are less like destinations to which you could arrive and more like processes that move us towards an asymptote. Forward is utopian, in that it presents a future world in which humans have their needs met, war is bloodless, climate change is reversed, and people like Lee and Caleb are free to advance and achieve and excel (in theory). Forward depicts an optimistic vision of the next two centuries, but it does not depict a perfect world, nor can it, nor should it. I think that's been pretty clear.