TV News

Watch Donald Glover Virtually Reunite with "Community" Cast

Glover and his co-stars did a virtual table read for charity.

Whether it be for class, a virtual happy hour, or reuniting the cast of a beloved TV sitcom, webcams have become the mode of communication du jour.

Universities and businesses nationwide have turned their lessons and meetings to Zoom, but the video-chatting app has also been used by high-profile actors who, like us plebs, are spending lots of time at home. We've seen the cast of Netflix's Big Mouth read an episode, and the folks of Parks and Recreation reunited after half a decade since the series finale. Now, it's time for a brief homecoming for the cast of Community, including an appearance from Donald Glover—who left halfway through the show's fifth season to work on Because the Internet, the second album under his Childish Gambino alias.

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Music Features

Round Table: How Does Music Survive the Pandemic? (Featuring Amanda Palmer, Adam Doleac, and more)

Amanda Palmer, Adam Doleac, Caroline Romano, Luka Kerecin, and Olivia Castriota share the trials and tribulations of life as a musician in the wake of mass quarantine and social-isolation due to the novel coronavirus

Amanda Palmer, Caroline Romano, Luka Kerecin, Olivia Castriota, Adam Doleac

"I feel like a cross between a minister and a rock star..."

...reports punk singer and activist Amanda Palmer from isolation in New Zealand. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the music community has been in a frenzy of adaptation. Palmer, given her community-focused approach to music, has seen her usual skill-set suddenly become essential for thousands of performers. "So many artists are in need. I want to help them set up Patreon pages, and I want to make sure they feel safe asking for help. It's hard for artists to ask," explains the former Dresden Dolls lead singer and author of The Art of Asking, "I've been collecting people in emotional crisis on the internet since 2002. I'm right in my element. But, boy, does it feel strange."

Pivoting to crowdfunding may now be a saving grace for many acts. The overnight decimation of the live music economy, across all genres, has thrown a question mark over the income of countless performers. "Artists [don't make] money off digital streaming," clarifies Nashville-based country music singer Adam Doleac, "85% of [most artists'] income is live show pay and merchandise sales from those live shows. You're now taking 85% of an income, and it's gone for an undefined period of time."

Adam Doleac Famous COVID Adam DoleacPhoto by Matthew Berinato

"A lot of people don't realize how far 'not playing shows' trickles down. I got all these guys in my band that are no longer getting paid. They rely on that money, they've got families," the Sony/ATV signee continues, "It's whole teams that have been shut down. That's been the hardest part, figuring out how to keep those guys comfortable as we work out how to get through this time."

While signed acts and their support systems are all feeling the squeeze in the wake of the COVID crisis, how do smaller up-and-coming acts fare? "I've canceled shows with Sofar Sounds, live recording sessions with LeestaVall, and planning my summer tour has been put on pause," lists Olivia Castriota, a New York-based R&B singer. "As an independent artist I also finance everything myself [through side jobs]. In a matter of days, all of my Airbnb guests for the next eight weeks canceled and all Bars and Restaurants in NYC went to take out only, so... welcome to unemployment."

olivia castriota covid corona Olivia Castriota

"Without people working and having any significant income all around the world, art and music will suffer tremendously," adds Luka Kerecin, Croatian lead singer of prog-metal band Wings Denied and lecturer and marketing specialist at the United POP Academy. "I was supposed to be in the U.S. in March to play with Wings Denied at SXSW... but that did not happen due to corona." Whilst the recent broadening of unemployment benefits will hopefully help smaller acts in the US, the long term future is still uncertain, especially given the widely-reported difficulties many have had with signing up for unemployment benefits. Festival season, a crucial time for smaller acts, has been all but snuffed out entirely, with name-brand events across the globe canceling or rescheduling and younger festivals facing possible extinction.

However, social distancing has led to the now near-ubiquity of the Facebook/Instagram/Zoom live show. These formerly niche elements in the artist's promotional toolkit have now become a primary method of audience engagement. "I did a show on Instagram last night, [and] we played for more people than we would have played for at the actual show," enthuses Adam Doleac, "I think 45,000 people signed on to watch."

There are also issues related to the almost entirely digital marketplace we now find ourselves in, as pop-artist Caroline Romano points out. "I don't want people to lose the need for live shows," she cautions, "I'm afraid the number of Instagram and TikTok followers an artist has is going to become more important than ever because social media is the only way artists can get discovered right now." With online engagement already becoming a dominant factor in musician's lives (certain managers, bookers, publications, and labels will refuse to even consider talent without a certain baseline level of social media traction), live music was one of the last true equalizing factors.

luka kerecin wings denied covid corona Luka Kerecin of WIngs Denied

These sentiments are echoed by Kerecin. "For my band, Wings Denied, which exists in the more niche genre of prog rock and metal, live shows are the number one way to connect with fans," he details, "Other more commercially friendly genres have it a little easier as they can always pull through with sponsors, radio play, etc. but not being able to play and tour at this moment is a massive challenge for us."

Established artists are also not immune to the toll of the COVID fallout, as Doleac points out. "Bigger acts, Kenny Chesney and the like, they have their [support crew and bands] on salary. They have to continue to pay these guys, but without any money from shows," he explains matter-of-factly, "It's a lot of money going out, and nothing coming in."

Even artists still in high demand, like Amanda Palmer, have struggled with the sudden tectonic shift. "I've been asked to do a billion streams and casts, but I have just barely been able to keep my sh*t together... I feel so overwhelmed," she shares, "I was wrapping up the final week of a year-long global solo piano theater tour when the sh*t hit the fan." Though the singer only had to cancel one show, the timing of the crisis led to her and her family moving into an AirB&B in New Zealand on short notice, a stressful situation for all involved. "The house has a piano. There's internet," she says, reflecting on the positives of the situation, "I'm going to take a few days off for my mental health, and then I'm going to be a streaming machine." In the time since this interview, Palmer has become heavily involved in the Artist Relief Tree, creating the "Art is Alive" artist's resource guide and many more projects.

Amanda Palmer

The digital age being what it is, artists still have it well within their purview to create and release content. "Coronavirus shuts down a lot of things, but new music is not one of them," confirms Doleac, "I've got my EP Famous coming out April 17th, which I'm really excited about."

"I have my biggest project to date scheduled to release early summer," adds Caroline Romano, "It features an artist who I've been a big fan of for such a long time, and it's actually surreal to see my name on the song with him."

Similarly, Wings Denied have an album coming up in the near future. "The final mixes are in the works. Everything was recorded last year," says Kerecin, "Grammy-nominated producer Joel Hamilton (Highly Suspect, Bonobo, Bomba Estereo) is, as you can imagine, an incredibly popular and busy guy, but thanks to the Corona situation, he has managed to find some time to polish the new record and we are incredibly grateful for that."

Olivia Castriota raises an interesting point about the new music cycle in this time. "It just feels like such an inappropriate thing to do [to be overly promotional] at the moment when it feels like America is crumbling. Everyone is losing their jobs and we barely have money to pay rent," she says somberly, "It feels like, why would anyone care about my new release at this moment in time when there are much bigger things at hand?" Though she does go on to add, "I'm hoping to put some makeup and a bra on in the next week and record some new selfie singing videos, but again finding the motivation is hard."

caroline romano covid corona Caroline Romano

The emotional toll and its effect on productivity is certainly not to be taken lightly, with the pressure on indie artists to be an active online presence now stronger than ever. Romano corroborates: "Every pop artist in the world is trying to promote themselves through social media. But, in a time when the entire world is online more than ever, it's so much easier to get lost."

Palmer sees continued output, coupled with compassionate outreach, as the only way forward. "This has always been our job as artists. Connect, connect, connect. And when things get hard and dark, connect harder," she declares with candor, "I've got a whole list of projects in my head: leading meditations and sharing sessions, teaching some yoga, doing collaborative songwriting sessions, chatting to people who are sick…"

Congruously, Kerecin sees the moment as one to seize and reaffirm public appreciation for the arts. "What is everyone doing right now when quarantined? Watching shows, movies, listening to music, watching live-stream concerts," he points out, "I think we all should lobby and push this narrative aggressively in the public space. Otherwise, people will start taking these live stream shows for granted, and none of us want that. There are years of blood, sweat and tears and ton of money and equipment behind every one of those."

lady gaga covid corona WHO world health Lady Gaga

So what does the path forward look like? There is a general consensus that many artists will be using this time to write and build up a reserve of materials for the future. Philanthropy is also on the cards, with megastar acts such as Lady Gaga partnering with the WHO to raise funds for much-needed resources for frontline healthcare workers. Smaller groups looking to bring affirming music concerts to essential workers have also started to crop up online, but, as Doleac points out, the few net positives of the situation are not strictly COVID related.

"I was at home for one weekend the entirety of last year," he explains, "This situation allows artists, or even just like a traveling parent who's always working time, to spend time with loved ones and work on relationships. I've gotten to talk to my family, and see my girlfriend a lot more than I anticipated. It's been a good reset button in that world." Amanda Palmer's social media feed reflects this too, which currently heavily features time spent with her husband, Neil, and son, Ash. "It's a really surreal paradox of existence," she admits, reflecting on the transition from touring life to isolation.

palmer ash covid corona Amanda Palmer and Son Ash in IsolationFrom Amanda Palmer's Instagram

Artist solidarity is also widespread at this point in time. "Most of [my friends] work in the music business, and I know a lot of [them] are struggling at the moment. I'm doing whatever I can to be there through all of this," Caroline Romano says compassionately. Olivia Castriota adds: "I hope this will bring us all closer as a collective. It is really beautiful to see people and companies come together supporting artists."

In typically optimistic fashion, Adam Doleac shares his prediction for the industry's long-term COVID outcome. "I bet we'll all be more busy than we would have been when this starts getting back up," he says, upbeat, "People will be excited to get out to concerts, see shows they've been wanting to see for three or four months. I think in the end it will be a victory for everybody."

When all else fails, come back to what you know, as Luka Kerecin imparts. "Music has been giving me hope," he says, "When the music stops giving you hope in difficult times, that's when you know the world has really gone to hell. I hope I never find myself in such a place."

Support and Follow these artists online!


Olivia Castriota is an independent soul and R&B artist. Her most recent release "Can't Wait to See You" will appear on her EP "I Need a Minute" coming out later this year. Since interviewing for this article she has begun releasing video content via her social media.

Follow her online: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

Adam Doleac is a country music artist signed with Sony/ATV. His upcoming EP "Famous" will feature several well-known tracks, including his hit single "Famous", as well as new previously unheard material such as "I Choose Lonely." It is set for release April 17th.

Follow him online: Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

Luka Kerecin is lead singer and founding member of prog-metal band Wings Denied. Their new album is due out later in the year. He is also a lecturer and marketing specialist at the United POP Academy.

Follow him (and Wings Denied) online: Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

Amanda Palmer is the former lead singer of the Dresden Dolls, long-time touring punk musician and activist, and author of the bestseller "The Art of Asking". She recently closed her "There Will Be No Intermission" tour, a four-hour-long piece discussing music, abortion, and radical compassion.

Follow her online: Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Patreon | Spotify

Caroline Romano is solo pop-singer. She has been played on Radio Disney, collaborated with Jacob Whitesides, and shared the stage with the likes of Kelsea Ballerini and Shawn Mendes. Her latest project is due for release in the Summer, and her most recent release "Stream of Consciousness" is available from all music outlets.

Follow her online: Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify
CULTURE

Hinge's "Date From Home" Feature Doesn't Solve the Problem of Virtual Dating

The Date From Home feature is nice, but video chats are always going to be an awful way to date.

You probably know Hinge as the app that repeatedly kills its furry little mascot in its commercials.

Marketing itself as "The Relationship App" that's "designed to be deleted," the joke is that Hinge is so good that you'll soon end up in a committed relationship and won't need it anymore. Whether or not that's true, it's certainly a big claim, and now Hinge has set its sights on an even loftier goal—to make virtual dating less awkward.

People are understandably bored and lonely right now—holed up at home with no parties or bars or restaurants to go to. Even going back to work is starting to sound appealing. In that environment, trying to make a connection with strangers through an app is an increasingly tempting prospect. But what do you do when you hit it off? You want to actually hear someone's voice, see the way their face crinkles up when they laugh, have a conversation that flows naturally.

Hinge, the Dating App Designed to Be Deleted www.youtube.com

Chatting over text is fine, but there is always something a little rehearsed and stilted about the way people talk when they have a chance to pause and reword and delete their messages. You need to have that face-to-face organic flow to really get to know someone. So how do you do that in April of 2020?

Social distancing obviously precludes a proper date. You can set up a virtual date with a video chat, but seemingly no one wants to actually do that, which is why Hinge just added a new feature to their app. Now, with Hinge's new Date From Home feature, instead of one person needing to break the ice and suggest that first virtual date, the app will give you the option of secretly indicating that you're ready, and only when the other person is also ready do you both find out that the other person is in and the video date is on. The idea is to make taking the virtual next step less uncomfortable, and thus reduce the tendency toward ghosting.

It's a nice feature, and Hinge might really be onto something. It certainly seems like a lot more people will end up on virtual dates this way, but it still does nothing to address the reason why people were so hesitant to set up video chats in the first place. Video chatting is always uncomfortable. Even with someone you're close with, video chatting adds a layer of strangeness that disrupts familiar rapport.

The Problems with "Virtual Dating"

For a start, there's the lag. Even if you both have great connections, there will always be that fraction-of-a-second delay that leads to people accidentally talking over each other, then going silent, then trying to talk again at the same time. But even when you aren't interrupting each other, the audio quality through anything shy of a professional-grade microphone is going to lead to a lot of "What was that last part?" and, "Sorry, I didn't catch that," which then leads everyone to slow down and raise their volume and over-enunciate until you feel less like you're hanging out and a lot more like you're putting on a formal presentation.

On top of all that, the amount you can do with body language is severely limited, and there is no shared context to form the basis of small talk. There are no other people around for you to make fun of, there's no food to share or weather to comment on. You're both just alone with your phones (or worse, you're not alone and liable to be interrupted by nosy roommates). Short of giving each other tours of your homes, there's not much to comment on that could spark a conversation.

These are the issues that have made video calls awkward and unpleasant for as long as they've been around, but with all the pressure and uncertainty of a first date at the best of times, it's hard to imagine the virtual version surviving all these pitfalls. If Hinge wants to make "virtual dating" a viable option, then they'll have to do something to address some of these problems. For a start, they could try making it live up to its name.

A Better Way

A "virtual date" should be way more than a video chat. It should give young love a shared environment in which to bloom. Zoom has quickly risen—despite security concerns—to be the new go-to video chat platform, and at least a part of that is based on the draw of a silly add-on feature that lets you swap your background for an image of your choosing. Hinge should give daters similar options—virtual settings where they can go on their virtual dates.

Zoom backgrounds

Rather than both being at home, set the background to a restaurant, a coffee shop, an escape room—with some light background noise, some characters, and events to comment on, and maybe some space to explore. Give people something to do. And maybe some prompts to take turns speaking. Turn the date into a game. It's a much bigger task than just letting people secretly sign up for a video chat, but it would scratch a very potent itch that people are feeling right now—let them feel like they're getting out and doing something.

Of course, this wouldn't solve all the problems of virtual dating—the first kiss is going to remain an issue for the foreseeable future—but even if the experience is silly, it could at least make the situation a little less tense and awkward. So...get to it, Hinge.

Culture Feature

Zoom-Bombing: How Trolls Are Hijacking Quarantine (and How to Protect Yourself)

Zoom offers us the opportunity to connect with each other, but at a price.

Digital platforms are becoming vehicles for new ways of life during quarantine, offering new methods of loving and working and connecting with people who we can no longer see in person.

In particular, the video platform known as Zoom is quickly becoming integral to many of our quarantine routines. But where did Zoom come from, and is it helping us—or hurting us?

Like everything on the Internet, it's most likely doing a little bit of both. And like everything on the Internet, there's a lot going on behind the scenes.

Zoom was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan. As of 2019, the company is valued at $16 billion. In the era of quarantine, most classes and meetings have been shifted over to its servers. Family dinners, dates, classes, revolution-planning sessions, intimate events—all have been shifted over to the online world.

Zoom is an oddly universal experience for many of us in quarantine, a strange third party in between our solitude and the buzzing outside world we used to know. A whole social culture is cropping up around it, filling the void left by concerts and bars—things like "Zoom Parties" and "Zoom Dates" are becoming common social activities, and as with all phenomena of the digital age, it's generated a fair amount of memes. ("Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens" is just one of the Facebook groups dedicated to the strange parallel reality that is a Zoom video call).

A zoom meme nytimes.com

There are fortunate aspects of Zoom. It's allowed businesses to continue and has kept families connected across continents; it's broadcasted weddings and concerts and rallies. Video conferencing services also vitally allow differently-abled people to participate in events they couldn't have attended otherwise.

But there's a darker undercurrent to all this Zooming. The problem with the Internet is that nothing is ever really private. In some part of our mind, we must know this. We know that everything we post on the Internet will live somewhere forever, impossible to scrub away. We know that the firewalls intended to block hackers are just as thin as a few lines of code, as easy to break as a windowpane. Yet now, many of us have no choice but to burn our data at the altar of the web, and to face the consequences that may come.

Zoom-Bombers Inundate Synagogues, Classrooms, and Meditations with Racist Torments

In March, a Massachusetts teacher was in the middle of a Zoom class when suddenly she found her lesson interrupted by a string of vile profanities. The interloper also shouted her home address. In another Massachusetts-based case, another trespasser invaded a Zoom meeting and displayed swastika tattoos on camera.

Cases of so-called "Zoom-bombing" have grown so common—and the attacks are sometimes so heinous and malicious—that the FBI's Boston Division issued a formal warning on March 30, 2020. "As large numbers of people turn to video-teleconferencing (VTC) platforms to stay connected in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, reports of VTC hijacking (also called 'Zoom-bombing') are emerging nationwide," their website reads. "The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language."

This phenomenon is certainly not relegated to Massachusetts. "Zoom-bombing" (or invading a Zoom call) may seem like just another form of trolling, but so far, many Zoom-bombers have delivered racist, hateful invectives during their intrusions onto video calls.

Also near the end of March, an online synagogue service was hijacked by racist accounts, who filled the Zoom group chat with "vile abuse" and anti-Semitic sentiments, according to the rabbi.

"It is deeply upsetting that at such a difficult period we are faced with additional challenges like these. We will be keeping the security of our online provision under review through the weeks ahead," stated the rabbi.

According to the Los Angeles Times, some University of Southern California classrooms have been Zoom-bombed with "racist taunts and porn." The stories go on and on. Morgan Elise Johnson's virtual morning meditation sessions were interrupted with graphic sexual material, which devolved into racist taunts when she tried to mute the hackers.

"I just exited out right away," Johnson said. "For it to be at a moment where we were seeking community and seeking collective calm … it really cut through my spirit and affected me in a very visceral way." Johnson's digital media company, the Triibe, has moved its meditations to Instagram live.

You can find plenty of additional examples of Zoom-bombs on TikTok and YouTube, as many gleeful hackers have uploaded footage of themselves interrupting various meetings. And if you're so inclined, you yourself can easily find information about how to hack Zoom calls yourself. On April 2, ZDNet reported that there are now 30 Discord channels related to Zoom hacking, at least three subreddits—two of which have been banned—and many Twitter accounts broadcasting Zoom codes.

If you're tracing Zoom-bombing to its origins, the online text and voice messaging server Discord is the place where it all began. Many of the hackers are less than subtle, often posting requests for hacks. "Can anybody troll my science class at 9 15," wrote one user in one of Discord's forums, according to pcmag.com. Another user linked to a since-deleted YouTube video that showed someone sharing photos of the Ku Klux Klan to an Alcoholics Anonymous Zoom meeting. The Discord forums are also full of information about hacking Facebook livestreams and Google Hangouts calls.

While many online hackers are seeking lucrative gains like credit card numbers, Zoom hackers seem to be motivated purely by a desire for mischief and chaos–as well as racism. Essentially, they're Internet trolls, AKA the scourge of the virtual earth. But the maliciousness of these racist attacks, which are hate speech through-and-through, can't be underestimated or taken lightly.

How to Protect Your Zoom Account

There are ways to protect yourself against the trolls. pcmag.com recommends creating your own individual meeting ID rather than using the one Zoom assigns to you. They also recommend creating a waiting room so the meeting organizer can choose who to let in, an option that can be found under "account settings," and requiring a password when scheduling new meetings, which can also be found in the account settings under "Schedule Meeting." When all participants arrive, you can "lock" the meeting by clicking "Participants" at the bottom of the screen window.

In addition, The Verge recommends that users disable the screen-sharing feature. Other sites advise turning "attention tracking" off—which can prevent call organizers from seeing whether you're looking at other tabs during your meeting—and you can use a virtual background to disguise your living space.

The Anti-Defamation League has synthesized all this into a list of handy tips, all of which are explained in detail on its website.

Before the meeting:

  • — Disable autosaving chats
  • — Disable file transfer
  • — Disable screen sharing for non-hosts
  • — Disable remote control
  • — Disable annotations
  • — Use per-meeting ID, not personal ID
  • — Disable "Join Before Host"
  • — Enable "Waiting Room"

During the meeting:

  • — Assign at least two co-hosts
  • — Mute all participants
  • — Lock the meeting, if all attendees are present

If you are Zoom bombed:

  • — Remove problematic users and disable their ability to rejoin when asked
  • — Lock the meeting to prevent additional Zoom bombing

Zoom itself has faced scrutiny and questions for quite a while, and its problems extend beyond a vulnerability to hacks. "Things you just would like to have in a chat and video application — strong encryption, strong privacy controls, strong security — just seem to be completely missing," said Patrick Wardle, a security researcher who previously worked at the National Security Agency, per NPR. Wardle discovered a flaw in Zoom's code that could allow hackers to watch video participants through a webcam, a problem Zoom says it has fixed.

And of course, like most big tech companies, Zoom is in cahoots to the evil mastermind behind tech's greatest data suck—Facebook.

Zoom Has Been Quietly Sharing Data with Facebook

Many websites use Facebook's software to enhance and facilitate their own programs. For its part, Zoom immediately connects to Facebook's Graph API app the moment it opens, which immediately places data in the hands of Facebook's developers, according to Motherboard. The app lets Facebook know the time, date, and locations of every zoom call and additional device information. The problem is that Zoom never asked its users for their permission to sell data to Mark Zuckerberg.

Following the Motherboard report, a California Zoom user sued the company for failing to "properly safeguard the personal information of the increasing millions of users," arguing that Zoom is violating California's Unfair Competition Law, Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Consumer Privacy Act. "The unique advertising identifier allows companies to target the user with advertisements," reads the lawsuit. "This information is sent to Facebook by Zoom regardless of whether the user has an account with Facebook."

In response, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan published a blog post in which he stated, "Our customers' privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK in our iOS client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser." Still, users are questioning whether one CEO's word is enough.

There are other eerie realities about Zoom. For example, call organizers have more power than we think. Using certain settings (which can all be turned off), hosts can read their call participants' messages and can see whether attendees clicked away from the call.


Certainly in the future, more dark truths will emerge about Zoom. For now, many tech companies are advising users not to say or do anything on Zoom that they wouldn't want to be broadcast to the public. Of course, Zoom is probably no more or less safe than the rest of the Internet, a thought that could be comforting or nightmarish depending on what you've been up to online.

A Much Larger Problem: The Internet Is Not a Safe Space

The prospect of a Zoom hack or data breach is scary, and it's absolutely not what any of us want to worry about during these unstable quarantined times. Yet it also reveals a dark truth about the Internet: nothing is safe online—and pretty much everything we post is being used to sell us things. Unless you're a super-famous person or the unlucky target of a bored troll, you should be less afraid that someone will go through your Google search history and more afraid of what's happening to all the times you put in your home address and email on a website's pop-up questionnaire.

Zoom's encryption may be shoddy, but it's certainly not the only site that's selling your data to Google, Facebook, and their cohort of advertising companies. In fact, every ad you see is based on your web search history, demographics, location, and other factors individual to you.

Data—which includes but is not limited to the numbers, emails, and information you put in on all those online forms—is one of the most valuable commodities of the Internet age. Every time we do anything online, or carry our phones anywhere, someone is collecting data, and typically that data is filtered into massive data-collection artificial intelligence programs that synthesize data and use it to sell products.

"We are already becoming tiny chips inside a giant system that nobody really understands," writes historian Yuval Noah Harari. "Every day I absorb countless data bits through emails, phone calls and articles; process the data; and transmit back new bits through more emails, phone calls and articles."

And what will happen to all this data? It's hard to say—but conspiracies are thriving. "Dataists believe in the invisible hand of the dataflow. As the global data-processing system becomes all-knowing and all-powerful, so connecting to the system becomes the source of all meaning," adds Harari. "Dataists further believe that given enough biometric data and computing power, this all-encompassing system could understand humans much better than we understand ourselves. Once that happens, humans will lose their authority, and humanist practices such as democratic elections will become as obsolete as rain dances and flint knives."

That might be extreme, but perhaps not. During this coronavirus quarantine, we will all be pouring much more information onto the Internet than ever before, providing the Internet with intimate knowledge of our every move—more than enough to create pretty accurate digital representations of our own minds. Whoever finds out the best way to harness and sell this data (be it an AI program, a human, or Elon Musk and Grimes' cyborgian child) may just be our new god.