You’re in the queue in the bank and the woman comes up to you and says: “What are you in for?”
“Er, to do some banking” you offer defensively.
“Would you like to do use one of these machines that can’t do any of the things you need?” she asks.
“No, I’m fine thanks” you reply quietly wondering that the queue would be so much shorter if she was behind the counter.
Still it’s good to realise that the women will soon be replaced by a gangly door-opening robot dog who will no doubt usher me to an other machine.
— WIRED (@WIRED) February 13, 2018
Meanwhile, in other news that is sure to bring a glint of romance to even the most cynical eye, Scotland is to be the first place in the UK to open a ‘sex doll brothel’.
The Evening News reports:
“The brothel is ‘serviced’ by a single doll, Faith, which owner Stephen Crawford pimps out for £60 an hour from his semi-detached home in Quarter, a small village near Hamilton.
Crawford told the Sunday Mail : “My doll is called Faith – as in ‘Faith I will succeed.’
The News continues: “Crawford has said he has already had 50 enquiries from men aged between 30 and 40, and had two paying clients already pay Faith a visit.”
Aw, how sweet for Valentine’s Day!
That may have give you the boke – so it’s good to hear that we’re outsourcing killing as well as sex.
The US Navy has announced a crewless drone-ship. It’s a brutal grey trimaran thing that skids across the sea ‘hunting’ submarines by radar.
“The machine could usher in a new era for military warships as it is designed to travel thousands of miles without a single crew member on board.”
So that’s money, sex and death taken care of. Shopping too. As some joker pointed out the other day, “In Communist countries you have one giant store with sub-standard goods to chose everything from” posted next to a photo of a gigantic Amazon store.
There’s not much of this that’s attractive or alluring. It’s like some fresh hell that is being imposed completely divorced from social utility.
The idea of technology as ‘liberator’ seems further and further away as social media, ‘tech’ and automation descend on an already ravaged society. The gap between the excitement of technology and the reality is becoming a gulf. It’s like the gap between the air travel experience of Frank Abagnale and Dr. David Dao.
“As citizens, we justly mistrust the ‘unprecedented times’ mantra. After all, it would seem to give implicit emergency powers to elites whose behaviour has precipitated such crisis. Most people, justifiably, want to simply get on with life and make progress without being burdened by external threats and upheavals. Indeed, much of Conservatism’s power as a political creed is that it taps into the compelling illusion of this possibility. But in an era where we face species-threatening imperatives on population, climate, a broken financial system, flatlining growth and real wage reductions, it’s fanciful to imagine that we can sustain this delusion.
These factors, in conjuncture with our information technology revolution, are pushing us towards a different set of social relationships and a new type of society. Now the dispassionate view is one that used to be reserved for neo-Marxists; it sees Western capitalism in technologically driven decline, with its ability to provide economic growth and employment prospects for its citizens rapidly receding.
Our awe of the latest technological advances, with robots like Baxter, Watson and Kiva being given the C3PO/R2D2 media treatment, bizarrely means that the notion of ‘machines taking our jobs’ still retains a sci-fi extravagance in our imaginations. However, this is simply the historical reality of industrialisation. What is totally unprecedented is the scale and speed at which this is happening. In Britain, Deloitte and the University of Oxford have predicted that 10 million unskilled jobs could be taken over by robots.”
The startling thing about the bank queue, Faith, Boston Dynamics and the Sea-Hunter is not that they look and feel dystopian but that they are here now. People have been saying this for some time but suddenly it’s here.
Marshall McLuhan predicted our current Infowars nightmare almost fifty years ago writing in “Culture Is Our Business” (1970):
“World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.”
This morning the radio informs us that software has been developed to stop the spread of terrorism propaganda online.
That seems, even if technically feasible, a little optimistic.
Almost everything now has a technical solution, even if it’s clearly not a technical problem. So world hunger will be resolved (somehow) by GM. Climate change will be ‘solved’ by carbon capture and storage. This is redolent of a society that has run out of ideas, the only idea left is: technology.
“Automation, the reduction of the need for people in jobs, was once seen as a positive process, liberating us from backbreaking, mind-numbing routine work. We could enjoy more leisure and holidays, make love and write poetry, go canoeing and abseiling. Karl Marx, despite the grim Soviet experience of communism, and the relentless distortion of his ideas, was primarily interested in human freedom: the removal of external dictates by other individuals and systems.”
” …automation, once identified as both the route to a possible anarchist utopia and the destruction of the worker’s consciousness and psychological wellbeing, is increasingly associated with a future of stagnant income and worsening inequality under a crumbling capitalism.”
On Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or whatever you want to call it we should reflect and re-start.
I think we maybe have this thing the wrong way round.