Monday, November 13, 2017 2:16 PM
The Limits of Machinery (2017Nov13)
We always stop short. ‘Good Enough’ is humanity’s motto. Then, we orate about ideals and justice and truth—as if we weren’t constantly focused on ‘good enough’—as if we don’t settle for that, every time.
When a man or woman loses a job to a machine, do we tell that person, “Hey, you get paid forever now—and you don’t have to work anymore!”? No—we don’t do that. That would be crazy—right? So, what responsibility do we have to that unemployed worker? Should everyone just keep on doing their jobs until they are replaced by a machine—and pretend that it’s not happening?
Sure, today—it’s no big problem. Right this second, the job market is still a real thing. At one time, people said the same thing about camera film, or TV antennae. And film and roof-antennae don’t do much business anymore. But (you riposte) those are just consumer goods—they change all the time. Jobs is jobs.
And you’re right—consumer goods are the most ephemeral aspect of a consumer society. But the entire thing is a construct—it is based on assumptions. “People need to work” is one of those assumptions. It implies two things: (1) People need to work to make a living—and (2) People need to work or nothing would get done. For all recent memory—and history—this assumption has been a fact. But what if you take away the last part—and you’re left with only the first part?
A planet full of people—all of whom need to make a living—and that same planet full of machines—doing all the work. No, it’s not happening today—time will pass—tomorrow will be like today—but. Aren’t we tired of ‘good enough’? Aren’t we tired of seeing all the progress go to the rich—and virtually none to the race of man?
Computers are weapons—we all agree on this—but few of us seem to fully grasp the meaning of it. In effect, today anyone with a keyboard and wi-fi can have the intelligence and the destructive power of a sovereign nation. Teams of hackers can do even worse things—and no one seems in a hurry to jump-start American kids’ white-hat-hackers clubs (a la the digital scouts) to prepare them for a future of cyberwarfare.
Beyond national security and all that popular jazz, however, is the lag-time between the wealthy and the rest of us—regarding our entry into ‘cyberversality’. All the info and tech that helps the rich and powerful—that stuff gets implemented yesterday. The info and tech that helps the rest of us—oh, sorry, that stuff is proprietary—an invasion of privacy. (Meanwhile, how did you get my email address?)
And now that cyberleaks and iphone videos have revealed a bit too much about our reality, debates on the meaning of truth reveal themselves to be attacks on truth, by another name. These people have no shame.