I finally remembered the meme I should have used to describe the concept I was after when recently writing about Replika of “the tech-bro-o-sphere misunderstanding that dystopian sci-fi novels should be taken as a warning, not a product roadmap”.

It’s the Torment Nexus tweet of course!

As Alex Blechman wrote:

Sci-Fi Author: In my book I invented the Torment Nexus as a cautionary tale

Tech Company: At long last, we have created the Torment Nexus from classic sci-fi novel Don’t Create The Torment Nexus

And now there are countless mentions of “Torment Nexus” across the web: “Modern tech is treading some serious Torment Nexus territory”, “Metaverse got torment-nexused just as robot did a century before”, “The Author of Ready Player One Has Launched His Own Torment Nexus”, “And so we come to our latest Torment Nexus, the newly announced Squid Game gameshow” to pick a few high-ranking search results at random.

Per Know Your Meme:

Torment Nexus is used as a metaphor for a thing that was once described as something that, for the benefit of humanity, should not be created, but was then actually created.

The original tweet was likely inspired by Meta’s presentation of their (very grim) metaverse vision back in 2021. But there are so many other examples of the trope available to pick from. One particularly rich source is the ability to pick any episode of Black Mirror involving technology accidentally ruining lives and you’ll likely find someone in Silicon Valley who’s very happy and excited to be working on something similar.