Op-Ed by Brandon Smith
Technology can be dazzling but also debilitating to real human progress, and when I say “progress” I do not mean advancements in the world of machines but advancements in the world of people, and one does not necessarily lead to the other.
First, I fully recognize that whenever anyone attempts to criticize technological innovation they take the risk of being labeled a “crackpot” or an “outdated fossil”, a barbaric relic of a foregone era. However, this attitude is an ignorant one. It assumes that the path we are on as a species is one of perpetual improvement as long as we continue to follow the great technology god; but what if this assumption is completely wrong? What if we are actually devolving rather than evolving?
I’m not here to grunt and shake my spear at the wheel and the combustion engine and the programmable computer – I like all these things. But, what I don’t like is the dark future I see when humanity turns machinery into a great metal, polymer and digital “nurse maid” and we lose our ability to take care of ourselves. Dependency is the cornerstone of slavery, and our civilization is becoming increasingly dependent.
In my time on this earth I have had the privilege and suffered the pain of watching the digital age come to fruition. I’ve witnessed the creation of the home computer, the birth of the Internet, the proliferation of cellular technology, and now the spread of “artificial intelligence” and 5G. I have also seen the decay of an entire generation of millennials into uselessness and despondency, lacking any practical skills of production or survival and completely reliant on digital technology for everything, including building up illusions of friendship and intimacy. I have witnessed the pussification of America.
The counterarguments against this will vary. Some will say that our society has simply become more convenient and more comfortable, and this is a good thing. Others will claim that skeptics like myself are afraid of the social changes that come with the globalization that the digital age brings. Still, others will maintain that centralization and dependency are “natural” extensions of man’s evolution; that it is inevitable and so we should embrace it.
These are also the classic arguments of the Futurists, a subculture of ideological zealots who believe that all old ideas and ways of living must be treated as obsolete and thrown out to make way for all new ideas and ways of living. The notion is that all new ideas are an automatic improvement; that each new generation is superior to the one before it as they supposedly have access to more knowledge, and thus they are more wise. But knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom and it is often misused to achieve rather brutal and vulgar goals.
What the Futurists will never admit is that there are very few new ideas in the world, only old ideas rehashed and recycled and repainted to look different. In the grand scheme of history, freedom as an idea is very old, but it’s social application on a grand scale is something entirely new. Centralization, whether by force, manipulation or technological entrapment, is hardly a revolutionary concept. It is the oldest of philosophies.
The trend today indicates a path to swift centralization, and according to the evidence this is not a natural progression but the consequence of a deliberate agenda by elitist groups that wish to remain in power for centuries to come. The advent of many technologies today is not necessarily the problem, it is how these technologies are being applied in our society that is infantilizing the masses.
Let’s discuss some specific examples…
Cell technology and the Internet have changed the world. With a Web-connected computer in your pocket, you will always be able to communicate with others, you will rarely get lost, and you can even record video of everywhere you go and everything you do – instant memories. Who knows how much time this technology has added to a person’s day, or how many lives it has saved. But let’s consider the darker side…
First, attention spans of Western nations have shortened to less than that of goldfish since 2002; right around the time that cell phone and Internet use began to explode. According to overall research, the average person now spends up to 4 hours a day just looking at their cell phone; and combined with daily social media use at home and at work I expect that this number increases dramatically. In fact, American adults spend approximately 11 hours per day interacting with various media. That’s most of their waking life being distracted by minutiae.
The parts of the world that have instant access to this technology are being zombified and they don’t seem to realize it. Over-saturation of information and instant gratification trigger an oxytocin and dopamine response in the human brain similar to the response we get when we socialize normally, but there is evidence to suggest that the strength of human interaction has a lot to do with the level of pleasure we receive through a dopamine response. Social media interactions are a poor proxy for real relationships. So, social media creates a near-constant flow of dopamine, but also weaker and less significant. This has led to a new form of addiction, perhaps more invasive than any chemical drug in existence.
Interaction with other human beings without social media or instant gratification has become unthinkable, but the real world does not function according to personal whims, and so, people have begun to discard time when functioning away from the Web; they become grossly impatient, like small children. When forced to do the “remedial tasks” that are required for survival they grow frustrated and complacent. They avoid the pauses or quiet moments in life, refusing to ponder experiences and explore the deeper meaning behind the events they read about briefly each day in their news feeds. All the information is at their fingertips, but they have no clue how to absorb it and apply it critically.
Inviting The Watchers Into Your Home
People do a lot of stupid things in the name of convenience, including opening their homes to surveillance and tyranny under the guise of easy living. While a cell phone is essentially a listening device, video surveillance device and tracking device in your pocket that governments and corporations can exploit anytime they wish, the problems do not stop there. The future of technology is fully interconnected homes in which everything is digital and everything is linked to the “Internet of Things”.
We have seen some of this exposed recently with controversies over Amazon’s Alexa tech, which is essentially a large and sensitive listening device which people pay for with their own money and voluntarily place in the middle of their homes. Amazon has been caught on multiple occasions collecting vast amounts of data from their Alexa network, including recordings of customer conversations which employees and even the government then have access to.
But this is a less subtle example. Consider having ALL your home appliances linked to the Web and what this would mean? Government surveillance of daily electrical usage and appliance usage; which means they would know when you are home and what you are doing at all times. This might not seem like a big deal if you think you “have nothing to hide”, but in a world where carbon Nazis are attempting to dictate every aspect of our lives over fraudulent global warming claims, your electrical usage might become a legal issue one day. Not to mention, if every single device in your home is voice activated for convenience, then this means your every private word becomes subject to bureaucratic scrutiny.
Take this a step further and consider a society in which digital connection is required in order to live. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are building the foundation for a cashless economic system in which privacy in trade becomes a long-forgotten memory. Every transaction can be tracked, and monitored. And while crypto is being sold to the public as “decentralization”, the reality is that it is even more centralized than fiat currency, as all trade must flow through a government and corporate dominated Internet and be recorded on the blockchain in order for the cryptocurrency to proliferate. Not only this, but many crypto innovations are being accomplished by people deeply connected to government surveillance agencies like the NSA, and the infrastructure is being built by globalist corporations like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
Privacy is the foundation of freedom. All tyranny relies first on the invasion of privacy and the removal of private spaces. The 4th Amendment exists for a very good reason. The argument that “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” is a very foolish one. Governments are commonly made up of fallible people who are often corrupt or psychopathic, but frankly NO ONE has the objectivity and wisdom necessary to oversee the private actions and conversations of millions of citizens and then judge them fairly. Politicians and bureaucrats are the least qualified and yet we give them the most power to oversee our lives, all in the name of technological convenience.
Artificial Intelligence And Automation
When it comes to technology the mass surveillance issue is the subject most discussed, but there is a problem that concerns me even more – automation. There are plenty of menial tasks in this world that probably should be handled through industry and robotics, but some things should be required learning for every person. For example, do we really want the complete automation of food production in our society? Well, that is the goal of corporations, and it could destroy our ability to provide our own necessities in the future simply by removing the knowledge from our social memory.
The ability to grow food and harvest food, as well as collecting seeds for future harvests, is integral to human survival. The concept of hunting and gathering is so far removed from the average person’s daily life that it is almost a lost art form, but we have not lost all knowledge of food production yet. What I see though is a bleak future if the current path of technological centralization continues.
Imagine a world in which nearly everyone is hyperconnected to media, to the point that they wear their devices like clothing at all times. Imagine a society where the average person is so enveloped by data that they no longer pay any attention to the tangible world around them and almost all human interactions are achieved through the middle man of the internet. Imagine people so infantilized by convenience that they no longer know how to do ANYTHING for themselves. They no longer know how to produce goods. They no longer know how to fix anything that is broken. They no longer know how to grow food or find water, nor do they even know where it comes from. They are completely dependent on automation.
They live completely on the grid – they are born on the grid, and if you were to pluck them from their life of comfortable slavery and place them in the middle of the woods surrounded by food, water and potential shelter they would still die. Now realize that this is basically reality today for many people, and the virus of dependency is spreading.
Technological advancement serves no purpose to humanity except as a crutch or a cage unless it serves the purpose of liberty and is tempered by the conservation of ancient knowledge and skills passed down through generations. The two ideologies must balance each other out. Those who say otherwise are trying to con you into trading your freedom for a fantasy.
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