The whole picture Michio Kaku paints in his book, The Physics Of The Future, suffocates me. In the future, says Kaku, we’re all going to be interconnected all the time. There will be few or no safe havens from electromagnetic proddings. Out in the marketplace, computers will recognize me from the chips I carry or from my retinal “fingerprint.” In my home, my own house may constantly scan my innermost parts to analyze my vital signs.
There are basically two kinds of animals: the first type belongs to the herd, the hive, the flock, the school, the colony– these are creatures which feel safer or more at peace when they are flank-to-flank with others of their kind. And then there’s the other kind, the goddam independents, those who would perhaps condescend to partially associate with a pack, but who certainly would not want to be trapped inside a herd. Similarly, there are two kinds of humans: the kind that thinks the sound of a non-personal future sounds awesome!, and the kind that thinks it sounds a like a hell from which there is no escape. You can guess to which group I belong.
Admittedly, my fear and loathing of what’s coming is largely instinctive. I’m actually struggling here to rationalize what is fundamentally a non-reasonable attitude. Privacy, alone time… why should I– logically speaking– crave, treasure, and attempt to protect these things?
Perhaps it’s because I know the thrill of independence. Well, a relative independence, anyhow. And, I admit, there’s a tincture of fear present whenever I’ve attempted to do something on my own for which there was a very real possibility of catastrophic failure (and sometimes, indeed, catastrophic failure did occur)– but that little dose of fear is part of what makes independence thrilling!
Or maybe, at a gut-level, I am repulsed by the coming hive-mind due to a fear of death, for a life intricately connected to the collective robs one of individuality, and the theft of individuality is death.
When wave after wave of groupthink is washing constantly through you, there is just not space for idiosyncratic thoughts, much less for questioning the validity and worth of the information and judgments flooding over you. To think outside the box, one must actually, physically sometimes BE outside the box. Without time alone, away from the herd, one’s ability to think creatively surely atrophies. To take away a person’s ability to achieve isolation, is to take away his ability to achieve distance from the herd, to achieve perspective upon what the herd is doing, what they are demanding. One cannot see one’s reflection if constantly emerged in a body of water being forever agitated by those around you. Reflection requires still waters.
Everyone knows how difficult it is to think of the melody of a song that you’re trying to remember while another song is booming in your ears… The same goes for herdthink… It is almost impossible to entertain a different idea when you are being always bombarded by the old ones. New ideas come from putting together experiences in new ways– in new orders-of-progression, in new orientations, in new rhythms and sizes and shades.
If surrounded constantly and intimately by others, our own personal magnets, spiritually speaking, can’t help but line-up with theirs. Anything attempting to turn even slightly against the overwhelming current will be pummelled… The rebel-spirit will be beat back into submission and forced to accept the herd’s course– or else he will be, in one way or the other, terminated… Roadkill on the information superhighway.
The future is coming, alright, barreling down on us like an out-of-control freight-train. And what is on the way is no longer some science-fictiony dystopia– it is real, and it is at this point unstoppable, and I weep for humanity.
One day, just as inevitably, there will rise a new Moses who will lead the people out of this coming super-abundant, Egyptianesque enslavement, but unfortunately –the captivity itself, the slavery to the machine– is unavoidable. The course of future days is mapped across the sky as clearly as words written across a page.
We could think of this unstoppable future as the drifting of the great World-Spirit through time. Or, for those of us more practically oriented, we can simply ask the question: Who benefits financially from a LESS integrated, less gadgety society? Basically, no one– no one who counts anyway; perhaps the weak and a few oddballs might be better off by the return of a free and individualistic society, but not the world’s financial institutions, not the corporate giants, not the movers-and-shakers who have their hands upon the levers of the world. The power-players in the game have the world to win by relentlessly pushing this interconnected, tech-dependent, highly leveraged, speculatively lucrative socio-economy.
Just the fact the population can continue growing if tamed and corralled and kept in precision line is reason enough for big business to see huge bottom line potential in this newly emerging form of humanity. Same as it ever was: follow the money.
To always be findable– a thought so chest-constictingly suffocating for me– is already largely a reality. We can be tracked by our phones, by our internet devices, by our transactions, by security videos, by satellite… But hey– what’s all that matter, really, since we’ve long lived in a world in which those who violate predictable patterns and routines will quickly find themselves out of a means of livelihood?
Some of the coming soul-killers Kaku talks about seem harmless… For instance, the internet glasses and contacts on the way which will allow us to look at the sky and see before us a display mapping-out, for us, the constellations. Also, we will be able to go to most any tourist trap and be guided by the internet on our own personal tour. “Self-guided,” they call it… but this is Orwellian Newspeak. “Self-guided” is when you go some place and have a leisurely ramble, allowing your feet and whims to guide you. Not when you’re following the instructions being radioed into your ear. Similarly, when you look up at the sky and you only see there what they tell you to see, then you are not really seeing the sky… you are seeing a construct. Somewhere behind that construct will be the real sky, the sky of freedom, the sky our ancestors knew.
We stand facing the dawn of a not-particularly-brave new world, one in which, as Kaku enthusiastically states, “you will not need to memorize anything” — Shouldn’t that statement alone scare the bejesus out of anyone still possessing his own, privately beating heart? Memory is Identity. There is no continuation of the personality without memory.
The human brain is capable of memorizing an amount of information which would blow most of our grown-lazy minds to even contemplate, but if the capability of memorization is lessened within us by socio-evolutionary causes, then our personality will be diminished, that which makes us an “individual” will dwindle. In a perfectly meshed and internet-coordinated world, we can at last become that for which we’ve been aiming the last two hundred years or so– a vast, brutally efficient and productive assembly-line for the production of… of what? That I do not know.
What I do know is that we sowed these sad seeds a long time ago. Now the harvest is due.
Fear the reaper.