On the 229th episode of Kiyo’s Mysterious Studies and Research on Passion Times, our show presenter Kiyo began the show introducing Space X’s proposal for a Mars expedition, which then slowly turned into a discussion about Elon Musk and his supposedly grand vision for humanity. Kiyo mentioned Elon’s dream of a fully automated world, where vehicles are driverless and robots do all the work for humanity, and people could simply “upload” programs and delete undesirable traits from our neurological mind. Hailed by many as possibly the world’s much searched for “messiah” accord to Kiyo, is Elon Musk’s ideal for humankind truly a blessing, or a dark evil in disguise? In the Chinese world, Jack Ma – while definitely not on par with Elon Musk – have been hailed by the Hong Kong establishment as a great entrepreneur with his Alipay, a third-party mobile and online payment platform, where many pro-establishment figures from politicians, academics and clergymen are praising Ma’s idea for a cashless society. Again, as with Elon Musk’s vision, we must ask if a totally cashless society is good for humankind or potentially selling out our freedoms and right to say no.
Introducing the episode with Space X and its project to set up colonies on Mars, Kiyo went on to question whether it’s feasible or desirable to colonise Mars, which then turned into a rather heated discussion on the man Elon Musk himself. Despite the friendly banter between Kiyo and his two protégés, he had highlighted that one of his protégé’s defensive reaction to the idea that Elon Musk could have an insidious motive is representative of the reactions people often have in BBS and online forums. Kiyo mentioned that even on conspiracy theorist sites – which taught people to believe in nothing, trust no one while questioning everything – are on the whole biased in favour of Elon Musk, likening him to a real-life Tony Stark (Ironman) and even the long-awaited messiah, and woe to anyone who hold the man in suspicion and distrust. As I listened to Kiyo’s presentation, alarm bells rang loudly in my mind, as the supposed veneration of Elon Musk immediately reminded me of the much cited and much ridiculed prophecy of an Anti-Christ soon to be born and enslave the world. While everyone is under the impression that the so-called Anti-Christ is someone like Hitler or Saddam Hussein, out to destroy the Judeo-Christian civilization, a better understanding is someone who acts magnanimously for the betterment of people but is really out to enslave humanity instead of being its saviour. But what has Elon Musk said, according to Kiyo, that had me worried?
Elon Musk, as the co-founder of the company Tesla, once envisioned a future world where all vehicles are fully automated without the need of a human driver. But is that a truly good thing? Having read some of Kiyo’s articles here on Passion Times, I was reminded of the one about the Wikileaks’ exposure on some classified materials – known as Vault 7 – that dealt with United States government intelligence agencies’ secret surveillance of people around the world by hacking through simple, everyday smart technologies such as televisions and even fridges. Kiyo in the article mentioned that the classified material leaked even told of how intelligence operatives could hack into the computer systems in some of the world’s computerised vehicles, possibly remotely hijack the vehicle and create “accidents” that could kill the occupants inside. Being reminded of such, what is there to stop a future authority to hack into a driverless vehicle in order to murder the people within by creating a fatal accident? Yes, it seems like something in the movies, but may I remind people that China is one of the biggest buyers of vehicles made by Tesla? The Chinese cyber brigade has been known to attempt hacking into foreign governments’ computer systems, even the United States, so hacking into an automated vehicle should be a piece of cake. Now imagine what they could do to silence dissidents, if all vehicles in the world become fully automated?
Kiyo, during the last segment of this particular episode, noted that Elon Musk also envisioned a world where no one has to work, that everything required to run society is done through automated robotics, and people could be paid an income by their governments to live on. This has to be the utopia that we all dreamed of, surely? While Kiyo warned that this concept stinks of communism and robbing people of their choice to work, there is another insidious implication that he may have left out. In these days, we make a living from the work that we do, deriving an income from working for others or for our own businesses; in a way, we control our own livelihoods by how hard we work. In Elon Musk’s vision however, our income for livelihoods will be at the hands of the governing power and should that power falls into the hands of evil, what then? The danger would be the power could theoretically withhold dissidents’ income, and without other means of generating an income because all work have been delegated to robots and machinery, people would be forced to submit or die. This is not to say for sure that Elon Musk is the fabled anti-Christ but the idea that he expounded has a great potential for falling into the hands of an anti-Christ figure, who could then use it to subjugate people to an iron-fisted domination.
So what does Alibaba’s Jack Ma and his Alipay have to do with Elon Musk and his idea of “utopia”?
In Hong Kong, there has been a tidal push by the establishment and their proponents to introduce Alipay as a method of payment, with prominent figures praising Alipay’s versatility and advances while playing down Hong Kong’s own Octopus Card system of smart-chip technology. These socio-political figures have been one-sidedly telling Hong Kongers how common it is in China for people to pay for everything using Alipay, with a pro-establishment pastor going on a tangent to tell an evangelical congregation how many Chinese young people these days never having had to see cash because of Alipay, while a pro-establishment academic claimed that even beggars and prostitutes in China these days uses Alipay. On an episode of Passion Times’ morning show, Good Morning Hong Kong, Passion Times’ Founder Wong Yeungtat suspected that trying to turn Alipay into a mainstream payment method in Hong Kong is but one step towards abolishing the Hong Kong Dollar and install China’s Renminbi (or Chinese Yuan) as Hong Kong’s official currency.
However, looking at Elon Musk’s vision I saw another dark possibility in Jack Ma’s Alipay. This push for Alipay in Hong Kong is part of a push for a totally cashless society, where the abolishment of the Hong Kong Dollar is but a part in the greater scheme of things, and just like the dangers of a fully automaton society, a totally cashless Hong Kong has the possibility for encroaching upon our freedoms and right to say no (although the latter is disappearing fast if not almost non-existent). In a totally cashless society, it is not altogether difficult for a governing power to suspend or disable someone’s account, and without means to pay for food and essential services digitally – and cash being no longer available as an alternative – people can only submit or starve. In a Hong Kong where people are obsessed with convenience and “development”, it seems inevitable that Hong Kongers will fall hook, line and sinker for this Alipay trap.