Let’s end the technopoly

Technology is accelerating faster than ever.

And it’s no longer taking us with it. Technology is leaving us behind as it vaults and skitters into a post-human future. Spasms of electrical circuits, spitting out strands of code and silicon across every area of life.

Media and communications theorist Neil Postman says our relationship with technology has passed through three distinct phases.

First we used technology as a tool to solve specific problems of physical life. Using a water wheel to mill grain faster, using steam to power a locomotive.

Second the rise of industrial capitalism superseded existing structures in its relentless pursuit of efficiency. Rural communities were gutted, inequality amplified, humanity sidelined. Tradition, social mores, myth, politics, ritual and religion fight for their lives. Culture surrenders to technology.

Third sees this technocracy rule triumphant. The fight between invention and traditional values is resolved, with technology emerging as the clear winner.

Neil describes the submission of all forms of cultural life to the sovereignty of technique and technology. Innovation and increased efficiency become the unchallenged mechanisms of progress.

Any doubts or dreams are vanquished. Any alternatives to such a totalitarian technocracy simply disappear. Technology doesn’t make alternatives immoral or even unpopular. It makes them invisible and therefore irrelevant.

Human intelligence is subsumed by artificial intelligence. Technology and technologists pillage our own humanity and sell it back to us.

The supposed masters of the cosmos, these doyens of space and time are nothing but petty thieves stealing the works of writers and artists without consent, credit or compensation.

For what? For the supposed promise of enhanced efficiency and productivity gains. While this may benefit business, how does it benefit humanity? how does it benefit us?

Generative A.I. is reshaping the world. Currently it’s being driven by ambition, fear and money. (Never the best of friends at the best of times.)

We don’t have to step blindingly into a future where we have no say, where we are exploited by technology even when we sleep. We can open our eyes.

We can create works that subvert technology’s relentless march forward. Slivers of culture that sabotage the algorithms, that halt and catch the code so it irretrievably destroys itself.

We can lay down the foundations of a new future.

We can become the means of our own liberation.

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