What We Retain: Part III of a Series of Essays Inspired by the Book, “The Dawn of Everything”

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Part I

Part II

Retaining Technology, Politics and Economy

Technology isn’t the problem by itself. Technological solutions are often necessary. But not as a primary focus. I can almost picture a sane (by no means Utopian) world, which steals an element from Amish culture – not a wholly luddite element, but the element in their culture that is considerate in its rate of adopting new technologies. Otherwise, technological development becomes an accelerating end in itself, which has a hypnotic and reductive effect on human consciousness (as noted in several essays).

But how could such a carefully considered approach to technology be organized?

It wouldn’t work as a top-down imposition, as it would for the Amish, who are pretty much stuck within a narrow system. Any top-down imposition of rules is a reductive strategy in itself, which bends eventually towards dictatorship. But profound shifts in social realities (such as our relationship to technology) would begin on a grassroots level, preceding the imposition of new laws. The Civil Rights era, for example, represented an alteration in the balance of attitudes towards white privilege, and this started to happen prior to any changes in law.

Let me ramble a while in this direction and see if we can return to this question.

Most grassroots social movements still feel compelled to beseech “authorities” for changes in top-down rules, still end up trying to persuade the kings and queens of commerce and government to give their permission for any grassroots shift that is already happening. Governments and titans of commerce yielded to the Civil Rights movement, for instance, because they felt the implicit threat to the whole system of power if they didn’t yield. Or they yielded to the grassroots movement of smoking grass, for instance, because they were lured there by the promise of controlling the revenue stream.

But beseeching these authoritative bodies also keeps us narrowly tied to the harness of commerce, and government, so that nothing significant in that sense ever changes. We earn a certain freedom of movement, yes, but still within the old reins (or reigns) – still trapped in systems of control (and machine intelligence is that system). Trying to live without a cell phone, for instance, is becoming almost impossible. Everything is being streamlined to assist the management of people on a grand scale, primarily it seems via apps on phones. (Not because the Bilderbergs have a broad vision they’re trying to enact, but precisely because they don’t have one, or have only a desacralized vision of manipulated self-interest, where a cosmic lens might once have been). At any rate, we’re still reined to the system, but hats off to those who are trying to build a community off-grid.Read More »

The Delusions of Me, Myself and AI: On the Origins of Our Crises

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This appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Do I need to justify what most call philosophy? Aren’t all these social and political issues building into huge cumulonimbuses that demand a less solely reflective response? But look, a thunderstorm has its origins in the vibrations of individual atoms. And as an atom of this society, I need to examine myself, because whatever is driving me (and you) is driving that developing storm.”

“In other words, what is the role of individual perception in all these less abstract issues of immigration, governmental control, war, and the dangers of AI?”

“Well, I bristle at the word “abstract.” I’m saying that the storm has a concrete origin in the atom of my personality. There’s a dynamic there that translates into society. My personality is a twisted wreck of inauthenticity —  defensive denials, and bald declarations of pig-headed belief in anything and everything. I leap from one conclusion to another, rarely questioning any of them. Rarely learning.”

“Are you saying that society is a cumulative stupidity?”

“I think so. But on the “atomic” level it’s only me and you getting caught on what we think and usually staying that way the rest of our lives. It’s not just stupidity, but a stubbornly self-enforced stupidity, which is beguilingly odd. There’s a clarifying thrill in this, like being trapped in a small cell my whole life and suddenly discovering that there are doors everywhere in the cell that I’ve simply refused to open. Every resistance in myself is a door I refuse to open.”Read More »