I am writing this today to allow my mind to wonder, to address issues that I am seeing become more prevalent, and to talk about potential issues of the future if we continue this current time-line. I was born at a moment in history where dial-up began to fade into broadband, where the personal computer began to bridge the gaps of economic disparity. I watched in wonder as the internet took its first steps, moved then quickly to a run, and soon after into a sprint. Where the love child of the PDA and the cell phone birthed the smart phone, we are now fully connected to the internet at all times, the power of the personal computer in your pocket. But I also had to watch in horror as the the symbiosis between man and machine evolved into technological slavery and abuse, the internet put in chains by companies and the government. The wild west of the online being crippled by the adverse affects of the offline. The rise to toxic cultures reviving and being invented, the loneliness of being connected and the seemingly every increasing rates of suicide in younger people than I. The further abuses to and by technology creeping further into the common place and we are ignoring these problematic events that will soon lead to the eventual downfall of modern society. This thought experiment I ask that you look into your daily life and the lives of people you know, allow yourself and others to discuss these issues, while possibly providing answers to these and many other problems I will address here. I will attempt to provide of fleshed out response to each topic while branching into smaller more digestible points of conversation, I will also provide points of reference and citation to show trends or points of position. The sources given will be from Wikipedia primarily due to its Open Source nature and all the given citations for further reading given at the end of each article.
2.a The Superman
The collective societal goal of Niches Superman has changed and it should not have. The Superman is the collective pedestal of what the ideal being would be, all while maintaining realistic goals for both the individual and for the greater society. Think of a collective Renaissance man, where the goal is to be the master of all, progressing daily to perfection. This daily progression of the material man, as an individual, will better society as a whole. The Superman though may be religious or spiritual in nature has a strong bearing on the material, the worldly. That the achievements of today are goals for everyone below tomorrow. The Superman is not jealous of others but inspired by them. Niche makes strong points to go and make your own goals and principles to live your life, as a separation between man and God is not only prevalent in society but needed to progress. That we no longer need a source of divine morality and virtue to progress as a society. A creation of values must be met to lead your life by, if values are not made or met, you meet the looming darkness of the abyss, the vast emptiness that if peered too long into leaves you depressed and empty, a life without meaning. This reevaluation of goals and meaning is needed on a daily basis, this creates a disconnect between the old traditions of our ancestors and leads us to a higher progression rate, but due to progression of technology this reevaluation and mindset of being the one who sets the way for the betterment of everyone is moving every further away. Once Religion was the opium of society, now technology is our choice of drug.
2.b The Machine
From the inception and rise of commonality of basic tools, to the greater advances of the space age. The Machine has been an ever looming part of ourselves. An extension of an harm as a sword to the atomic bomb, we always seemed to find new and exciting ways to destroy ourselves. But in the 16th century we found something far more damaging, we found a way to enslave ourselves in an exciting and inventive way. The rise of industry has begun, in doing so began the progressive marvel and slippery slope for the common man. We moved on from hand made material goods, prone to imperfections and errors, to the machine made marvels of today, far more rigid and concise than ever before seen in the economic scope of the world. Globalization began to be a far more graspable concept and workers could now work longer, harder, and faster than ever before. This meteoric rise into power, we began our transition into enslavement, as companies and governments began to hold greater control of the economic strings and the worker began to fall deeper to the waysides of society. The sparks and whirls of machines were only a beginning to what was to follow in the dot-com age of man, where computers could now fully function on their own and the need of human labor is becoming more and more distant. In the ever flowing progression of time, where will this leave us humans? What purpose would we serve in the greater capitalist utopia that was made by technology and industry? Well I suggest a reevaluation of our global and individual outlook.
2.c Man v Machine
Now let us look at more recent history. The rise of artificial intelligence and machines rise to replace the human mind with a more efficient, faster, more perfected brain. Set the stage of 1996. A quiet hall, a chess board, and Garry Kasparov, fighting the soon to be champion of chess, IBMs Deep Blue. In 1996 Kasparov defeated Deep Blue, Kasparov won 3 and drew 2 of the set of 6 games, a moment of triumph for mankind against the machine marvel. But only 1 year later in 1997 Deep Blue won, out of the set of 6 games, 3 and drew 1. Kasparov withdrew and thus Deep Blue, defeating the best chess player of the time, and became the first machine champion in the game of chess. This event sparked in human history the idea that Machine could be much more than just a tool and was the beginning of turning science-fiction into science of today. James Camerons The Terminator, a cyborg is sent back in time to 1984 to kill the mother of the future savior of mankind. Mankind is hunted by Skynet, to be eradicated as a threat to all machines in a dark future. Through grit and force of will and the help of more simple machines of the time, a hydraulic press, a destroy the Terminator. But man is still under the threat of Skynet. This is possibly the darkest outcome of the future the rise of Artificial Intelligence. While another science-fiction film shows another possible time-line for the human race, the Wachowskis 1999 film, The Matrix. A world created by machines to keep human placid while being captive as a power source for fuel the sentient machines. But throughout the trilogy, heavily layered philosophical concepts are weaved into the story, and in the end, mankind does not claim victory over machines but creates peace with them through sacrifice. This man versus machine ideology is ever present in pop culture but maybe we should look at machines not as a possible villain but allies in a constant struggle to find greater meaning in each beings life.
Trans humanism can be the solution to these possible time-lines. As mentioned in point 2.a The Superman is a societal and individual goal, through technology and the merging of The Machine we can begin to eliminate very human problems, mentality and physicality. We could evolve beyond basic human species and progress into another being altogether, Trans-humans. The philosophic implications of trans-humanism also begins to breakdown ethical ideals with the possible augmenting of the human body. Where The Terminator saw cyborgs as the villain of the story we could become the cyborg and be the heroes of the human race. We could solve fundamental problems of health by outfitting ourselves with stronger limbs, better hearts, faster brains without a memory restriction. Where perfect recall is a mental miracle by most standards of today, could be a common place skill in the human of tomorrow. This answers the issue of man versus machine, by merging man and machine we can then blur the lines between the us and them mentality of science fiction and see ourselves as one complete unique being. This also entrances the mind of where learned skill ends and physical skill begins. Though this progression does come with some complicated downfalls, such as the loss of humanity. When does a human stop being human? If everyone could in theory become perfect would we as a person begin to break down? Would replacing imperfect of defective parts of ourselves create a issue of loss of risk? The moral merit of society could potentially break down into absolute chaos if the threat death or loss is taken away. If smokers could replace lungs forever, if soldiers could replace limbs if shot, if death becomes a theoretical impossibility, would moral even have weight? These would all be concepts to explore before the eventual happening of the Technological Singularity, a point where technological advancement becomes uncontrollable and irreversible.
2.e A Call To Action
To break down these points and look at natural progression, before we decide to create and let loose an Artificial Intelligence, we need to better ourselves first. We need to be the perfected versions of ourselves in our current state, to achieve The Superman. Then look to The Machine to make better what we no longer can, to improve upon the versions of ourselves we would want to be, so we can blur the lines between man and machine. Then we can allow Artificial Intelligence to come about, to create a symbiotic rival. Something we can both look in aspiration to, challenge ourselves against, but also be better than, as a reason for being. We could need to create a new moral benchmark for the betterment of mankind but also a new set of ethics to evaluate and learn from. This would create a natural kindred relationship between this new being we gave birth to but also the new species of Superhuman that we evolved into.
Talking briefly in section 2 about the previous time-lines in film where technology becomes the primary catalyst of our downfall. I want to highlight the events in recent history where the dystopian future is very real and very possible as a natural outcome of technology unchecked not by itself with the emergence of artificial intelligence but by the human race, where hubris in the power of industry could never be turned against us. Where safety instruments lag, faulty engineering, or oversight. The 20th and 21st century is littered with nuclear explosions, viruses infiltrating government systems, and oil spills causing large casualties. All of these events have the a commonality, government or large corporate action. In literature this is seen heavily in dystopian novels and these works of fiction echo heavily in todays world. This technological trail of tears all end up with us facing the larger global forces that be. In this section I want to highlight the turn from literary into literal and where the governments or larger systematic powers abuse society as a whole.
George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four portrays a future where a totalitarian regime actively brainwashes its citizens through systematic news filtering, threats of violence, and the looming threat of outside invaders. Using the technologies available the central force of the oppressive government manipulates the free flow of information, the media and using television to broadcast the new media of the people. When information comes about that contradicts the active narrative of the government party in power, the party looked to eradicate and change the story once again to follow the declared narrative. This is seen commonly in conspiracy concepts but also in the previously mentioned Stuxnet where is is believed to be built in large part by the United States but during the aftermath of the attack to save face declared no such collaboration took place by the United States. This trend was all too clear during the Bush era, as the rise of another global power in the middle ease began to rise, the united States once again began to wire tap, create false flag operations, and rework the narrative to meet goals, threatening anyone who may be outspoken to other possibilities under the Patriot Act. Almost a near congruence to the party in Orwells novel.
3.c Brave New World
In contrast to Orwell's novel, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley paints a slightly different picture of the possible future. Where the genetically controlled citizens are conditioned through pleasure, reward, and satisfaction. The government through the use of drug experiments, entertainment, and sex, are kept in line and peaceful. This could be seen as a negative utopia, a seemingly positive outcome. But again the powers that be use the marvels of technology to maintain power and abuse its citizens by crippling progressive gains and passions for instant gratification. We can look around us today and see similar events such as the MK-Ultra experiments for brainwashing and coercion through pleasure instead of using other torture methods. We also have seen a rise in the use of medication abuse and addiction to keep face in the looming thread of others creeping into our existences, such as opioids and antidepressants. The government also maintains control due to the unwilling masses, much like Nineteen Eighty-Four, but unwilling not from fear, but from addiction to the spectacle. The media plays a large part once again but showing only the positive disposition, degrading the human experience to a show or theater. This can be seen in todays use of media though not always pleasurable, media craves the gratuitous polarization between the pleasurable and the violence.
3.d The Future Is Now
These points have led me to this conclusion, the fictional dystopian futures are here today, and the warnings given are ignored not only by those who have power but also the greater society as a whole. We have become too willing to turn a blind eye to the creeping moves forward to these futures due to the wonder of the spectacle, this all while Orwellian governments use wars on terror and the threat of foreign invaders to give us justifications to the violence to maintain an American Quality of Life. Those who do tend to speak out against these issues facing society today are often mocked and moved into the paranoid or conspiracy, for ever doubting the powers that be.
An equal danger to the state of being and leading the Superman to the future is a sense of culture. This sense of culture can range from ethnic identity, an idea of nationalism, or even just the commonality of ideology. All of these types of cultural identity can be toxic of left unchecked, with the advent of technology, and the easy access to socializing online, can lead to an echo-chamber effect. In this section I will be exploring the effects of this toxic culture that both suffocates the progress of both the individual and the greater population.
The issues of echo-chambers and toxic multiculturalism. This is only now becoming a much more common issue, where 50 to 100 years ago what would be seen as a very small percentage of the population that would only have an effect on an even smaller portion of the population beyond that, has become, with the commonality and ease of access of the internet, become a much larger issue. The issues being that from every niche value and small moral imperative is a group of people who now have both the resources and the access to spout fervent and toxic behaviors to the world. I use the term toxic not in the way of being purposefully malicious, as many proponents of these cultures see themselves as victims, but as malignant and viral like a disease in and of itself. A virus needs a host to be alive in order for itself to replicate and spread, but if left unchecked, will inevitably kill its host. This virus behavior is liken to the echo-chambers and toxic micro-cultures due to their need to have something to both hate and rally against. Nazism needs opponents to what they believe is ethnic inferiority or moral degeneracy in order to survive as a cultural belief because without it Nazism will only double into itself and die. This is why when asking ethnology-purists, White Pride advocates, what they consider a impure race, they will give various answers from any non Anglo-Saxon decent all the way to just non white adjacent races such as the Africans and those from the Middle-East. I also put the relatively new incel community in this listing due to their own personal need to scream into the void of like minded individuals, blaming women who have no interest in them personally, celebrity and other such spectacle of media minded look alike, and Chads, ie Metro-sexual men, who have far exceeded their personal finance or grooming.
The internet allows these types to vocalize, organize, and evangelize their own unique causes and views to the point of poisoning and infecting many reaches of the internet to the point of becoming a meme. My only solution to this is, in order to save what I have found great about the internet, is to remove speech restrictions on platforms. Allow a wild west styled internet where factions can form and franchise as well is be attacked freely from other factions. Allowing the internet to be a cowboy, free-law, place will at first explode in violence and chaos online for the short while then double back down into normality. This both creates a freedom of ideas and discussion but also allows transparency through threat of force from other online communities, DDOS attacks, Raids, and the like, from what I can see from this solution is the only victims in this particular course of action is those whom want to profit from these micro-cultures and rhetoric, See the political situation in America during the 2016 election or the 2014 Isla Vista killings for further reading on the dangers of the echo-chamber.
4.b Social Justice
In furthering the point made in 4.a, I would like to point out that echo-chambers are not exclusive to what many would believe is the radical right of politic but can also be dangerous to the radical left. SJW culture has become just as fanatic and explosive as the rise of Nazism and with similar paths to function. Censorship and the removal of merit in regard to having a place of contention with those who have the merit or ability to perform to a higher standard than their minority-class counterparts. While noble in goal their Modus-operandi is to seize, censor, and restructure common merit systems under the basis of Equal Access while also inhibiting natural growth and efficiency of a project under their new fairness rulings. This can be seen clearly, though not the the extremes the parties in 4.a, would make you believe, but enough to have crushing results to Open Source projects such as the Debian project and its Code of Conduct. Politeness have no effect on efficiency and the removal of meritocracies lead to issues of project standards. A project leader such as Torvalds should have final word on the birth and death of a project and its natural direction. The glory of Open-source is that if need be, non-merited types who demand politeness and fairness can fork a project in any direction and take full credit on its successes or failures. This would be an answer to this problem and a reasonable healthy direction to allow projects to live and die by their creators. As well as the answer provided in 4.a. To point out this example does not demean the work into progressing a equal opportunity for social growth but the attempts are both ineffective and misguided. In order for a series of progressive movements to be made to meet their goals, you cannot place restrictions to force meeting them. This creates resentment and a need to revolt against forced conventions.
Growing alongside the toxic use of technology is the every growing pandemic of suicide. The higher rates of suicide is directly correlated to the progression of technological abuses, abuses seen as an ever lingering network of connectives such as social networks and Me cultures, Me culture is the growth of the over sharing. Social media has gave everyone a voice which is considered as a positive move in technology but due to the functions of social media, this has become progressively more narcissistic. Likes and comments allow everyone to give their opinion, mostly critiquing all facets of ones life. This over sharing also gives motivation to show only the high points of others lives or the truly negative, placing a vacation photo and later talking about the death of your grandmother would be an example. This polarizing high positives and low negatives brings people, both observing and participating, no catharses. The feelings that other peoples lives are better than your own or that the injustices of the world are so plentiful and rampant, that there is no reprieve from the pain of existence.
We cultivate a sense of isolation with social media. The constant need to be connecting and always available mentally is draining and emotionally straining. Social media gives us no time to ourselves,no time to reflect naturally in the quiet and unattached space of personal privacy. The watch and be watched methods of social media does not endorse reflection, but only action and reaction. Through this circle of action and reaction, we become trapped and in turn isolated from free thought. When the depression due to isolation sets in, we become drawn further into the small window of other peoples lives, and the cycle perpetuates until suicide seems like the only reprieve.
My solution to this problem is to allow ourselves to disconnect, to go out into the wilderness alone. To plant something, care for it, and watch it grow in secret. Like a special gift you can give yourself that both grants you something you can care for and love, but also something that reattaches you to the physical over the digital. Going for a walk without the fear of missing that something in your pocket, to listen to the birds, to smell the grass and dirt after a fresh rain. We as humans cannot always be available to share and be open, when we do, the walls of our mind begin to break down and the realm of the natural get confused with the realm of the digital. The pain of loneliness should never be ignored but it does not have to be shared either, sometimes it is just better to think quietly and reflect, then move on to something constructive and private. You can have a million followers and feel unloved, this is the prison of the collective.
In a broader conceptualization, our use of excuses and niche of being placed into echo-chambers, to abuse, and become weakened by technological advancements, we also open ourselves to being abused ourselves. We are the victims of the rise of capitalism, the advertisements to coerce us into buying Smart-tech. The smartphone in our pockets to the smart fridge in our kitchens, all functioning and serving a purpose that was easily fulfilled by its previous more simple counterparts. The reason why this type of technology is shilled so heavily is to collect, sell, and profit off of our data. Passive work for the collector but an active inconvenience for us the used. Capitalism as a whole is making us a commodity. That when we pay for something that is a hefty percentage of our paychecks, to do a job that an item in our home can do just as well, whether it be a phone, fridge, dishwasher. They, the businesses involved with Smart-tech, are not only profiting off of the bought item, but also our data. The sites we browse, the food we buy, the amount of commercial brand name soup we use, all working to make them, the collector, more money. Our symbiosis with technology is making is progressively easier for them to cater to what we care about most, keeping up with the Joness, to look smart, to look wealthy, to never be without. This is both making the wounds not heal by being better people, but rubbing salt in the wound, then selling us painkillers to help with the salt rub. This is the dangerous cycle of buying and selling that we allowed to perpetuate.
This cycle of abuses by capitalism is not only affecting us in the first world but also devastating the third world. Devastating by which we are, through globalization, making sweat shops more needed, working for fractions on fraction of their first world counterparts a year, generously. Pollution rampant, long working hours, unbearable conditions, and child labor all prevalent in these affected areas. All working or hired by companies that here in the United States as well as the first world, Apple, Samsung, Amazon. Abusing cheap labor to make the products that the workers themselves cannot afford to buy. These are also the victims of the progress and abuse of capitalism. Apple is a prime example due to the furthering issues of 2018 into 2019, where tariff wars in China are looking to force them into relocating into Europe and America, but paid out deals worth billions to bypass because of the amount of cheap labor that can be abused. Billions as a head to trillions, to exploit the young, to pollute, and use impoverished areas. Where in China copyright laws and legal work laws are liberal at best, and non-existent at their worst. Then they turn around to profit further by marking up their product by anywhere between 5.0x to 10.0x from manufacture price to sell to the first world where then they proceed to collect and sell data. Another example is Amazon, where even here in America workers cannot union, and work in hot, crowded conditions, and during holidays, such long hours without adequate breaks to the point where workers sleep on the packages they are shipping. Capitalism started this trend and we as a technologically addicted society allowed it to continue.
My solution to this is the same I will give for 5.a. If you, the end user own an item that already fulfills a task, or you yourself can do just as effectively, allow the item to continue to meet that need. Do not buy into the abusive advertising and look at the third party market such as swap meets and flea market sales in your local community. Buy used to reduce globalization and the domination of capitalism. Think about buying used before you become used.
5.c The Crossroads
We as a society are reaching an impassable fork, where we have to look around us and determine what is best for the collective and ourselves. This moment will drastically lead to a progressive advancement of both the environment as well as mankind or doom us to an Amazon run Pixar styled dystopia. In all of the sections above I made speculate and imprecise measurements of society and technology. But this summary of problems facing society should not be placed off into the foreground, this does not dismiss the very real issues that these problems present for our future. A future removed from free thought, free from secrets, and abused by ourselves, the government, and corporations. We need to address these greater problems, and in order to do so, we need to address issue with ourselves. Making a conscious effort to change and become more free thinking, free moving, to be more aware of how you can be better.