Cover Photo: Object and Machine by Daniel Hamilton

Object and Machine

Who owns the future

The dominant narrative of the Silicon elite is machine-centric, it’s reality optimised, it’s physicality but muted. From the depths of the Valley, the automated voice begins to read humanity it’s final bedtime story – the story of technological determinism.

Humankind must remain collectively self-interested so as to survive. We must not give away too much of ourselves to the future. Instead, we must move to ground ourselves in something tangible and resist the temptation to become so detached from our understanding of ‘self’ that we begin to put at risk our own freedom. We are not one with these machines. Neither nature nor technology could ever be truly holistic. Technology is but a fragmentation of human capability, made manifest in an object. There is no object or machine that can engage itself like a human emotion. There is no object or machine that can exercise the consideration of human reason. Without the human-subject, the technological object is neutral, neither good nor bad, neither effective nor ineffective. Similar to a mirror which would reflect nothing if nothing was to stand in front of it.

The real likelihood of technological domination over nature will arise only from our own submission to it. We do not presently use tools to voluntarily suppress ourselves, yet we have consistently imagined ourselves a future of techno-dystopian terror.

We would do well to remember that the future is not always teleological and that the technological singularity is not an inevitability.

Jaron Lanier, computer scientist and tech-guru said in his book Who Owns the Future? that “The problem with technology is that it allows us glimpses at a future where humans are not the heroes.” Though effective in describing the human ‘fear of future’ this description is, in essence, incorrect due to its presupposition of an innate technological narrative. Technology as object has no story except that which humankind has written for it and imbued within it for their own understanding. It’s not technology that allows us glimpses of a future where humans are not the heroes; its humans.

Are we so complacent to our own existence that we will create a surrogate existence to be better and act better than our own? Then, when that’s done what do we suppose we do, simply give up and lie down and die?

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