Imagine spending your free time with friends wherever, playing outdoors, biking, walking, or going to the movies or to somebody's house. The parents needed not know and there were very few phones, so they had to believe that we were OK. "Privacy matters," as Edward Snowden would say. Imagine standing in line at 5 a.m. in front of a bookstore to buy "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez or "Hopscotch" by Julio Cortázar. Later we would read them voraciously and enjoy heated literary discussions.
So what is The Machine? Let me give you a hint: I am a consummate citizen of Machinedom. I am an academic teacher. I use Google, and a plethora of electronic journals and databases for research. I email all the time, buy most things on the web, and write this blog. I use GPS after dark and carry a smart phone that locates me down to 100 ft anywhere I go, and may be intercepting and transmitting any sound near it. On the other hand, I refuse to go near Facebook and I tweet only occasionally to communicate facts. I read and I think.
At my friend's house in Munich, I picked up at random the Polityka, a Polish weekly equivalent of Der Spiegel, or a left-leaning version of The Economist. In this Polityka issue (44(2931) p. 16), I ran into a two-page interview with Dr. Eben Moglen, Professor of Law at the Columbia University, entitled "Imprisoned in the Machine."
Professor Moglen defines the Machine as a virtual organism. It consists of all of us, smart phones, computers, software, terminals, the surrounding surveillance cameras, the Internet, the cellular phone networks, satellites, drones, GPS, server farms, cloud computing, the NSA surveillance universe that taps into everything in the Machinedom, the FBI, CIA, the military forces, and so on.
Already in 1954, when I was still in diapers and von Neumann's team was constructing the first modern computers, Martin Heidegger warned us about the Machine in his Question Concerning Technology. Heidegger correctly predicted that humans are but a part of the technology-human system, and technology we think we create and control, in fact uses us - and can consume us - just like anything else it touches in this world.
So, what does The Machine want and need? She wants global reach and control, and she needs stable supplies of everything. She also needs permanent amorphous enemies, preferably individuals who are outside of her domain. Hence the permanent "war on terrorism" and the vast Homeland Security apparatus created to protect The Machine. You can think of Obamacare as a new addition to The Machine, and its medical portal as a default gateway tailored to her, but not to the people who aren't yet sufficiently reeducated.
The Machine applies her own machine learning methods to teach next generations. So far, through extensive computerized testing and intensive use of computers in K through 12 schools, The Machine has been very successful in diminishing the roles normally played by human teachers, and decreasing their status. It is important that children learn machine thinking directly from the elements of The Machine, instead of the free-wheeling, independent humans. Therefore the next inevitable step is destruction of humanities and liberal arts.
The Machine needs skilled operators who provide her with the ever-more complex software and hardware, and feed her with energy and other raw materials. But, The Machine does not like humans teaching these skills, therefore she exerts pressure to widen machine learning of all kinds, through online courses and MOOCS in particular. Anything that prevents humans from influencing the youth is desirable.
The results are clearly visible, just watch the young people intently staring at their smart phones for hours on end and avoiding human contact at all costs. Reality is real only what it is mediated through The Machine. So expect your child to propose marriage on Facebook or phone, rather than looking into the partner's eyes and uttering the magic words.
The Machine is about enticement and control. She entices us with offers of immediate pornographic pleasure, and she controls most of what we do through our smart phones, GPS, Google queries, web posts, emails, and credit card purchases. When I say "pornography," I do not mean just the old innocent offers of immediate sex. Instead, I mean the savage computer games, the Facebook, the Twitter, TV, gratuitously violent movies, and the Shopping Channel.
I cannot imagine that under the old communist system people would be volunteering to reveal everything about themselves, their daily movements, friends and acquaintances, their sexual habits, families, purchasing patterns, naked bodies, and infidelities big and small. And most of these revelations are driven by a purely narcissistic exhibitionism. "It's all about you," whispers The Machine, and all too many humans buy this nonsense.
Just remember what Dante Alighieri saw happening to the self-centered gluttons: They lie in the Third Circle of Hell, sightless and heedless of their neighbors, just as they were cold and selfish in their empty lives played on Facebook. The vile, stinking slush, in which they are trapped like pigs in industrial pig farms, is their penalty for overindulgence in food and drink, and other kinds of addiction, like taking their own pictures on smart phones or watching Fox News. The shady pig farm owners will be sent to the Fourth Circle of Hell for their greed. You should see what lies in store for those wretched capitalists...
|The Third Circle of Hell: This is the future of selfies and other self-indulgent Facebookies.|
P.S. To visualize what education in The Machine can do to you, please see this sketch by Jon Stewart's reporters. No further comments are necessary.
P.S.P.S. Jan 9, 2014. The high school prison superintendents arrest and expel their young captives a little too often, but even more if those captives are black, Hispanic, or disabled. The most telling infraction is "defying authority," for which there is a suspension. Whose authority exactly? And on what authority? The Machine rejects young people acting like people and defying authority.
P.S.P.S.P.S. Jan 10, 2014. The Machine does not sleep, rest, or have fun. Neither should her inner circle servants: The Wall Street traders.