Monday, May 17, 2010
These days, I have been talking to many of my students about the Singularity. As I understand this event, it is considered to occur when virtual reality becomes indistinguishable from the actual reality. I have been using this article to discuss some of the ramifications of the Singularity with my students. This will ultimately lead to a machine nirvana, where our chance for individuality has been destroyed, turned off like a light switch, subsumed into a hive-minded collective will that can be completely controllable and perfectly docile. Then, we will finally have peace on Earth and sing in perfect harmony.
The Singularity has been a long time coming, already we can sense its existence. The unreality that TV and other mass media entertainments have been programming into us is frighteningly anti-human. Watch one of those so-called 'reality shows' to see what kind of vices are being encouraged. Consider blockbuster heroes like James Bond, a man who can kill dozens of bad guys (often brown-skinned these days) and bed the same number of babes, all in one day between martinis, shaken not stirred, and all without a quiver of emotion other than a catchy one liner. Such a person in real life would be undeniably psychopathic.
Like all good cons, we are made to believe that we are free and that we are freely choosing everything that comes into our life , as in the way we can choose which channel to watch. Ever noticed those words- program and channel-and what they connote? In the news media and tragedies of our own lives, from time to time, we get glimpses of the real world that we frantically work to keep at bay through all of our mindless conveniences and entertainments. We work hard to create our own virtual reality. The computer allows us to take this to the next level and beyond. Now that machine worlds are being created for us to play in, while we are fooled into thinking it is just some harmless fun or blessed conveniences that we can't imagine life without, we keep on paying for our chains, helping our masters to construct the perfect panopticon all around us. Like Huxley said, people can be made to love their own enslavement. As a fitting illustration of this point, as İ was discussing these issues with a class, a few students in the class could do not without using their cell phone/portable entertainment centers in class,escaping into their own little virtual reality. Let the dead bury their dead.