In the 60s there was a growing concern that with the advances in science and technology humans would become just a cog in the machine. Like the spokes in the hub a person would just be another identical piece serving the never ending cycle of progress.
Science fiction in the 60s and 70s picked up this theme where individuals were reduced to mere numbers on a computer card. Perhaps, the most famous number was 007 which was assigned to James Bond. In the film series and novels James Bond always reminded people that his name was “Bond, James Bond.” I am sure this was intentional even though MI6 gave him a number, he reminded a unique individual.
Star Trek The Original Series dealt with this concept in a number of fine episodes. Perhaps, the most famous was The Ultimate Computer which aired on March 8. 1968. The M5 computer was the ultimate form of artificial intelligence which was designed to replace humans. Captain James T. Kirk is confronted by his own fear which Commodore Wesley stated,” Our complements to the M5 unit and regards to Captain Dunsell. Wesley out.”
Mr. Spock had to explain to Dr McCoy who Captain Dunsell was. “ Dunsell, Doctor, is a term used by midshipmen at Star Fleet Academy, it refers to a part which serves no useful purpose.”
In the United Kingdom a television series premiered on September 29, 1967 and ran until February 1, 1968. In the summer of 1968 it appeared on American television. The name of the series was The Prisoner.
There is a strong connection between this series created by Patrick Mcgoohan and his previous spy series—Danger Man ( Secret Agent in the USA ). In essence a secret agent resigns from the service and is kidnapped, sent to an isolated village which is a prison and his identity is reduced down to a number- Number 6. In the opening scene Number 6 declares as he does in all 17 brilliantly written episodes, “I am not a number. I am a free man.” To which Number 2 responds by laughing.
Is John Drake of Danger Man the same person as The Prisoner? Perhaps, but the sheer creativity behind The Prisoner is unmistakable with clues pointing back to Danger Man. In the spy business the only way to truly resign is to die.
In 2012 do you feel like a number? Do you believe society as a whole has reduced a human being to a number? At work do you know your fellow workers? In your community do you know your neighbours?
We all have numbers which identify us to various agencies, organizations and people. Have many numbers are associated with your identify? This includes phone, house, apartment, post office box, work, driver license, auto license, banking, credit card, government number, passwords for internet sites, military assignment, etc…
Have we become Number 6 in 2012 without realizing that our name means little in the cyber world in which we exist? The cyber world is the Matrix of reality for those who are plugged into its ever ending flow of information.
Ponderings on this cold, snowy 30th day of January, 2012…
G. D. Williams © 2012