In The Matrix, humans were used as a power source for the machines who were controlling the earth for their own pointless ends. In real life the companies we have purchased products and services from are using their machines-set-in-motion to record our behavior and sell that data to the highest bidder or give it to the government. These companies then turn a double profit; one on the sale of products and services, and another hidden profit from tracking us while we use these products and services. In turn, the entities who acquire this data use machines-set-in-motion to process this data and use it to turn a profit, either by selling you stuff or by selling your data down the line to the next machines-set-in-motion. The records of your behaviors are kept in perpetuity, to be used and set aside, dusted off and mined again when they are deemed profitable.
Making money is the impetus for all of the above. The machines-set-in-motion are not tasked with the improvement of life as we know it, they are tasked with turning profit. Most of the companies who employ machines-set-in-motion are required by law to turn profits. And governments are not innocents in capitalism either. The protection of hegemonic power has real dollar value.
The accumulation of capital presumes the loss of capital. Despite the cliche, you can’t really “make” money. You can only get money. And if you keep that money then it means someone else doesn’t have it. This is the distribution of wealth. In real terms there is only so much money to go around. When looked at this way, capitalism accurately resembles a game of Monopoly. Each player gaining and losing money. Real capitalism, unlike a game of Monopoly, doesn’t have an “end”. Nobody wins in capitalism because if the game ends there is nowhere to spend the money you’ve horded. If you actually got ALL THE MONEY, the game would collapse… No indeed, the game is an end in itself. The point of capitalism is to play the game and to keep the game alive. In other words, there is no point.
So, if all these machines-set-in-motion are automatically making money from the data culled by tracking our behavior, they are essentially farming us for data like sheep are farmed for wool. And what do we get out of all this? What is our reward for being good sheep? What is our hay? Angry birds. How different is this from the Matrix? We are mined and given virtual pleasures in return.
But maybe there is something more beyond the farm fence. Perhaps there are wild herbs in those woods that are tastier than hay and possess magical properties unimagined…