Imagine a world with cameras everywhere, cameras with facial recognition that use real-time analytics to interpret your every move, which will be stored in an enormous database and monetized for every dollar it’s worth. Is that the work of science fiction or real life? Sadly, it’s a combination of the two, which is the themes in The Circle feel so relevant.
Based on the Dave Eggers novel of the same name, what The Circle lacks in character development it makes up for in dystopian elements. Our protagonist Mae, played by Emma Watson, works as a customer support representative for The Circle, a company clearly based on large tech giants like Google and Apple. Although she’s initially resistant to drinking the “Kool-Aid” of the rest of the Inner Circle, eventually she’s leading the pack to a world in which privacy rights are wrong.
In this episode, Gabe and Aliza discuss what it’s really like to work at a huge tech company, who really owns your data, if facial recognition makes us more safe or not, and the trend of live streaming. In The Circle, Mae livestreams her every move, as the company believes that “sharing is caring and secrets are lies”. Although we couldn’t find anyone that live streams their life 24/7, this increasingly common form of video is particularly popular in China, where people can livestream product reviews and make millions.
1:00 Intro to movie
1:27 Movie recap
8:14 Discussion of The Circle’s campus comparing it to Apple Park and other headquarters of large tech companies like Google, and what it’s like to work at these companies.
14:50 Discussion of data privacy in the Circle vs. data privacy in real life, including how data can be used to make more accurate bus schedules, Andrew Yang’s idea that data should be a property right and who really owns data.
20:40 Discussion of livestreaming on Facebook Live and Instagram Live, and why it’s so much more effective than regular videos.
23:23 Gabe and Aliza talk about facial recognition; how the New York state Department of Education banned facial recognition in schools, how it discriminates against people of color, women and trans people and how police departments in the United States use facial recognition software to identify suspects.
30:00 Are we in the future?