NEOM. Sophia. Palace of the Dajjal?
The rapid-fire announcements coming out of Saudi Arabia in the past week add up to something far stranger than a MUFON Disclosure Convention at Buckingham Palace. First there is the announcement that an apparently conscious, apparently female humanoid robot has been made a citizen of Saudi Arabia with more rights than human women have in that country, then there is an announcement of a special city being built to exist, essentially, as an artificial intelligence organism. The city of NEOM.
Panel discussion featuring:
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
What is NEOM?
According to the website AcronymAttic, Neom stands for “nominal end of mission.” Abbreviations.com defined it as the NASDAQ symbol for an obscure bar-code software firm as well as meaning the “New Era of Music”. A commenter popped into that site on October 27, just days after the announcement of the Neom city plan by Saudi Arabia, with the remark that it stands for the “New Era Of Moderation”. That comment is interesting because it coincides with Saudi Arabia’s announcement of its intentions to foster a more moderate culture than it is historically known for, especially for women.
Neom is neither an obscure tech firm nor a genre of music. But what does that first definition of the acronym NEOM mean? For it seems that it is often printed in all-caps, suggesting it is indeed an acronym and not simply a short name for a city.
Here is what NEOM stands for, according to NASA
“Spacecraft recovery operations at the nominal end-of-mission landing site are supported by approximately 160 space shuttle Launch Operations team members. Ground team members wearing self-contained atmospheric protective ensemble suits that protect them from toxic chemicals approach the spacecraft as soon as it stops rolling. Spacecraft recovery operations at the nominal end-of-mission landing site are supported by approximately 160 space shuttle Launch Operations team members. Ground team members wearing self-contained atmospheric protective ensemble suits that protect them from toxic chemicals approach the spacecraft as soon as it stops rolling.”
Gizmodo.com’s senior editor, Adam Clark Estes, had something interesting to say: “Recently, however, Saudi Arabia’s affinity for robotics has taken a weird—even dark—turn. […] what’s especially dystopian about Saudi’s robot obsession is the extent to which the machines appear to have more rights than many people in the country.
Just about all the references to Sophia are “cutesy”, no one dares object. Nervous giggles all around. Even the editor of Gizmodo, no stranger to technology, ventures no closer than to suggest Saudi Arabia likes to waste money on expensive toys. But he is right about one thing: there is a very dark side to all of this.