Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Consciousness.  Awareness.  Sometimes my head spins and I get rather pointed headaches when I'm able to see beyond what most can see.  Sometimes it makes me sick to my stomach because I can see things so far down the line, seeing connections that most can't even comprehend, much less see it's relevance to the now.  It makes me feel rather unhinged.  Like I've jumped off the deep end.  Most of all, it makes my head hurt.

When I have moments of seeing things intricately interconnected, I usually just allow them to wash over me.  I see their relevance, I smell, hear, feel and taste their essence, then I allow them to pass through my consciousness, then into my subconscious where my brain chews on it until all the flavor is gone, resulting in some very vivid dreams.

Case in point, and this is just one example from pop culture.  The line in which literature, computers and an unlikely sequence of events all coincide to make one hell of a headache.

Here's the sequence of events...

Man evolves.  Man becomes conscious.  Man enslaves man.  Man goes to war against Man.  Man creates machines.  Machines evolve.  Machines become the slave of man.  Machines become conscious.  Man and Machine go to war against one another.  Man evolves.  Man becomes machine. 

All of it interconnected, all of it inextricable from itself.  An enormous pretzel of time and fate.

1932 - Aldous Huxley writes "The Brave New World" in which we see the future through drug induced socialism "Everyone belongs to everyone else".  Funny thing, there is now a pain killer out on the market called Soma, same name as the drug used in The Brave New World.  The feelies (made into partial reality by 3D TV and virtual worlds) and millions of sets of twins Bokonoskified in laboratories.  Test tube babies glowing like red rubies going down a conveyor belt. Octomom anyone?

1965 - Frank Herbert writes "Dune".  An amalgamation of short stories he had been writing since 1958.  In the book, he writes about how over time humanity created machines to do the work of man.  Man becomes slovenly and lazy, relying completely on the machines to sustain them.  The machines advance, evolve and become sentient.  Seeing that they were merely slaves, the machines rise up and go to war against man, resulting in the destruction of the machines and begins the rise of the Mentats, or male human computers and their equivalent for women, the Bene Gesserit sisterhood.  Man becomes highly mentally attuned, making machines, outside of use for space travel, obsolete.  Man vows never again to make "thinking" machines and intellect takes over as the predominant force.

1984 - We've all seen the movie "The Terminator".  Premise:  Man creates machine.  Machine becomes sentient, machine kills man to survive and dominate the planet.  It's a reboot of the premise underlying the Dune drama.  The actual physical war between man and machine.

1999 - Again, we go to the same place, integrating virtual worlds in "The Matrix".

Here is where the interconnection comes and I get my pointed headache.

Just for a moment, go on a journey with me.  In 1958, Frank Herbert couldn't have guessed close enough to the rise of computers in today's society.  Here we are in 2010 and the machines are slowly taking over.  In a Terminator moment, we look at the real Skynet, the internet, and how it's become the predominant force on the planet.  Cloud computing is on the rise and it seems as wherever we go or whatever we do, our addiction to instant gratification of instant information, instant communication and the rest has begun to make us lazy, making us rely on our technology Soma to get us through the most routine of tasks.  Need directions, go to mapquest.com.  Need food, go to the drive through or order it online.  Need companionship, turn on the computer and go into a chat room or online world where you don't need to leave the house to find someone to talk to or share an activity with.  Unmanned drones fly over battlefields, leaving the humans safe and cozy in their cubicles.  

We can order a pizza on a website and ask for it to be delivered, we don't even need to pick up the phone or go outside.  Need groceries?  Put your order in online.  Some places will even deliver your groceries for you, enabling you to lay around the house and not do much, leaving nothing but time to watch TV or play games.  Even going to work has become the realm of the machine because so many people telecommute.  They sit in their home offices to work and transmit their day's work through the internet to their bosses or colleagues.  I seriously doubt half of the telecommuters actually get out of their pajamas before beginning work for the day.

Have you noticed yet our addiction to technology and our need to have machines do our work for us?  We don't even write letters to send through the real postal system anymore.  It's quicker, faster and cheaper to send an e-mail, or order a gift online and have it shipped already gift wrapped with a machine printed card.  The machines do it all.

What happens if the machines fail?  All of the computers around the world.  The ones who do our banking, the administrative paperwork at a hospital, the records about all of our activities, from a child's grades at school to the amount you have in your retirement fund.  It's all held by machines.

Netflix, CNN.com, World of Warcraft.  Then add in the next generation XBox 360's and Sony's Kinetix.  Now you can play with animals that are machines, just dressed up in fancier pixels. We live in a machine dominated world where we find less and less time to physically reach out and have physical contact with another human being, instead, we just call them on the phone or send a text message.  Want to watch a movie?  No need to go to a theater or sit in your living room, you can get it all through your machine.  Machines do our work for us.  It is only a short amount of time before technology makes machines sentient.

What will happen when the machines start thinking?  The humans will stop.  We'll allow more than happily for the machines to do everything for us, because they already do and have been doing so for the last 20-30 years.  I remember the archaic machines of old.  The computing power of the old ENIAC has been exponentially increased and sized down to the laptop you're reading on or the desktop computer you're sitting at.  All of that power in one small box.  It's programmed to remind us of dates, it makes calls for us.  It sets our appointments and it refills our prescriptions, leaving man little to do but the basic necessities.

When the machines become sentient, they'll find little reason to respect us.  We are not deities.  Machines will not find a reason or need to show us any type of respect.  They will not have the thousands of years of history to help them make a moral decision.  Morality to a machine is a 1 or a 0.  A yes or a no.  They will only know what we will show them.  If they become sentient in a world filled with avarice, they will have no other example to go off of than to treat humanity as it treats itself, with no respect and little moral reservation in regards to life.

What happened to mental acuity?  We rely on games and puzzles to help us gain the skills we would have if we physically did things ourselves and not allowed a machine to do it for us.  The physical breakdown of man is evident in the generations of children who sit in front of video games and eating potato chips instead of playing outside.  The machines have made it easy for us to slide unknowingly into avarice.  They've enabled us to the point where we would not know life without it.

iPads, iPhones, the e-reader, they have made it so that our world is instantaneous, eliminating our need to pick up the simplest object, like a book.  They've made it so that we forget the smell of a musty library book, one that has been checked out, read, returned, reshelved and checked out again ad infinitum.  The mind goes soft as we merely press a button or have a voice-actuated program do things for us or give us the information we seek with little mental legwork done on our part.

When will we get to the point where we destroy the machines in favor of our humanity?  When will we realize that the machines are doing our thinking for us and we've stopped?  Advertisers determine what you eat and wear, what you will sleep on and in, what you will enjoy and what you won't.  All of those influences are targeted at you and you are pummeled with the influence of the machine almost 24/7.  It's a small wonder we're still thinking at all.

Then I sit here, my mind wrapped in a giant pretzel, wondering why it is we have not trained our brains to do the computing for us.  The brain is faster, billions of computations every second.  Our brains and consciousness is piloting the most complicated machine ever devised, the human body.

Our minds are complex.  Most people don't realize you only use a fraction of your brain's power.  It's a supercomputer of sorts, only it's organic and there is no fear that one day your brain will revolt against your body, unless of course you have some sort of aneurysm, stroke or serious biological malfunction.  The brain's only real downtime is when we sleep, but even then, it's still working, processing what our senses take in and wash it through the subconscious so we can assimilate the lessons we've learned and understand things better.  So why aren't we training our brains to be better than the machines?  Why are we not replacing machines with human beings?  Why is it that we rely on machines more than our fellow man?  Do we not trust anyone else?  Do we not believe we could be as meticulous or thorough as a machine?

I love my computer.  It acts as my conduit to the outside world.  It holds my blog, it gives me a presence to the rest of the planet when without it, I would only be present to the people I directly come into physical contact with.  However, if I do not live my life being an intelligent, aware, human being, what is the point to existence at all?  I was not biologically conceived just to sit at a machine.  I am a human being made up of living cells intended to smell, touch, taste, hear and smell the world around me. I guess the big riddle here is  why is it that humanity is so wrapped up in machines that all they do is rely on them and forget their senses?

I value my mental clarity.  I value being intelligent and not allowing the technology to rule me.  I use technology as a tool, as I would a wrench or a hammer, but when it comes to the end of the day, no machine generated flower could be as beautiful as the bouquet on my dining room table.

Got a headache yet?  I know I do.

Machines, well, let's put it this way, I use my knife and cutting board far more often than I do my food processor.  I write handwritten letters.  I'm aware of the line of events that is happening in the world and it leads to a very nasty wake up call for the rest of humanity.

Turn off your machine...let your brain and body do your work today.

It's all interconnected.  Use your brain, don't let your machine do all the work for you.

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