Sunday 25 September 2016

What is the biggest coming threat to modern salvation? Probably implanted 'smart' technology

I think that computers and the internet may represent the biggest threat to humanity ever - the transhumanist nightmare - because people want them and they are addictive: a lethal combination (far more dangerous to the soul than coercion).

As the technology gets 'smart' so the actual people get dumber - and in a subtly deceptive way: they can (to an extent) fool other people by passing-off the external data as their own knowledge - as with cut-and-paste or memorise-and-parrot.

And modern evaluations are seldom able to tell the difference between personal knowledge and re-presented stuff (only human judgement in sustained interaction can do that - and such evaluations are deemed subjective hence personally-biased).

If we consider the cognitive psychological division of input-processing-output - then the input is already almost monopolised by the mass media; the current step is for more and more processing/ thinking to be done online (in 'the cloud') with humans as small scale participants.

When both input and processing are determined - then output - i.e. human behaviour - is also determined.

In other words if/ when the Establishment are controlling what goes into thinking, and if thinking is being done by programmable computers - then everything that happens will be controlled.

At present most people voluntarily carry smartphones and use them nearly all the time - the next step is to make them wearable - but this may be leapfrogged and the technology will become implanted into the body - for extra convenience, and because people are addicted to distraction and want never to be separated from their internet and social media access.

And of course once the technology is implanted it cannot be avoided - so by controlling input and processing then humans will (so the theory of cognitive psychology goes) be controlled by whoever, or whatever, controls the computers.

Will modern man mind about this; or will he continue to labour and queue and pay to be the first and get the latest and most controlling tech? Will there be campaigns, demonstrations and riots protesting that some people are excluded from the implant revolution? Quite likely - if things ever get that far.

On the positive side, cognitive psychology is just a model, certainly not the whole truth - so there are many factors left out of the input-processing-output description that are important; and control of input and processing will not (when it comes to it) fully control human behaviour.

Nonetheless the degree of success of the mass media control of input is striking; and when processing is added onto it - it is likely that humans will indeed become highly, if not completely, controllable.

Against this actually being achieved is the decline in human intelligence and creativity combined with the exclusion of intelligence and creativity from modern institutions; then there is the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the ever more pervasive bureaucracy (now constituting one massive, multi-system, linked bureaucracy) - which is further contaminated by endemic dishonesty.

And then there is the interdependence and fragility of the global system; self-paralysed increasingly by self-loathing and the covert wish for self-destruction and civilisational suicide. 

Technological capability is already declining - and this may go so far and so fast as to prevent the transhumanist nightmare. 

Like so many catastrophes - it is a race against time - and the only thing that stops it may need to be failure, rather than good sense or good morals.

More on this at:


Joseph A. said...

Western man has embraced his fetters willingly -- and with enthusiasm. Our fate trends more according to Huxley than Orwell, it seems. To go back a bit, though, St. John's prophesy appears even more frightening . . .

I always suspected that people would accept the mark of the beast with mixed intentions -- willingly but only because they wished to avoid persecution/starvation/suffering. I never considered that men would relish the thought of getting branded -- would choose to stand in long lines to be among the first to wear the seal. The insanity of today's techophiles might be a foreshadowing type for the apocalyptic damned -- cheerful slaves of forces who tirelessly work toward their (the slaves') destruction.

Bruce Charlton said...

@joseph - It is interesting that women are even keener on this kind of thing than men - for example twice as many young women as men engage in self-mutilation via tattoos; and it is celar that smartphone addiction is far stronger and more frequent among women.

(Of course, most women are lost souls, adrift, deeply-confused, and incipiently subject to being overwhelmed by self-loathing in this post-religious and anti family/ marriage world; hence the pitiful grasping at social and virtual peer approval.)

I wonder whether the social engineering of near-ubiquitous tattoos (plus extreme piercing) may have been, in part, a psychological preparation for the implantation of monitoring and control technologies (masquerading as entertainment and communication devices)?

Nathaniel said...

I see "virtual reality" as a serious threat, and not just a curiosity. Of course, we all seem to live in "virtual reality" to some extent, where media enters our lives and those around us.

I definitely see the desire of virtual reality as society decays, of fantasy and escape. Most of my life I'd have rather been at Hogwarts or Middle Earth than where I was.

The threat from implanted technology is already here, I think. Smartphones already actively report your location, activity, etc. There is no definite escape from the comprehensive tracking - though the mask hasn't completely fallen off yet - it's not used in a Communist fashion - yet.

(Even just to comment on this blog we're assisting the "artificial intelligence" that interprets photographs)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nathaniel - "Even just to comment on this blog we're assisting the "artificial intelligence" that interprets photographs" - there can be no escape from this - but we can create enough space to start work, and then we can raise our conscious state to a point that we are immune.

Rainforest Giant said...

Weaker vessels. Women need social approval in ways men do not or not to the same degree. I expected more men than women would have tattoos. It was certainly true when I was a boy. Only sailors and criminals had tattoos.

Now you see it all the time.

Albrecht said...

"Technological capability is already declining…"

I won't dispute this, but can you cite specific examples?

Bruce Charlton said...

@ALb - One of the most influential posts from this blog gave the example of space travel

My book ( Not Even Trying discusses this in more detail. Another book The Genius Famine explains some of the reasons why we hardly ever make intellectual breakthroughs - although I don't mention that this decline in power and capability may have divine reasons, and be for our own good - i.e. to prevent the transhumanist nightmare.