Akira, Meditations on Moloch, Existential Terror, No Seriously, this is kind've a bad trip and a recurring nightmare of mine. Read at your own risk. :/
Honestly though, this movie really does get at the heart of a lot of things that have been worrying me. If you're not up to date, these are the sources you may need to read, or skim, to really get what I'm going on about here:
Like, All of our problems now stem, not from the lack of power, but from our poor use of it. We could solve all of our problems if we chose to. We could feed everyone on earth, we could end all wars, we could clean the oceans and cool the earth. It would be easy, if we chose to. We don't lack for power, we just squander it.
And I'm worried that maybe this is no accident. Maybe that's simply the nature of life. To grow without thought to the consequences, to consume all available resources, to turn to infighting, waste, and cancer. That the true nature of life is hunger and violence, and everything else is just window dressing and foolish dreams.
"What if an amoeba had ultimate power?" They mention at one point. What would it do with it? Would it make something beautiful? Or would it simply consume all in it's path? I dunno. But, the orthogonality thesis holds that intelligence and goals are unrelated. That there is no reason that that ultimate amoeba would see anything beautiful. That it would, in fact, merely consume all.
And I'm worried that they might be right. That there will be no day when our efforts pay off, no day when the horrors cease. That all our wonders built so far will turn to horrors and dust.
To go on, people talk about the decline of American manufacturing? That's a lie. There's been no decline in American manufacturing. We make more stuff now than ever before, and if you look at the graph, it's a steady upwards line. The only thing that's declined have been manufacturing jobs, and those were automated. Factories that used to employ thousands now employ less than a hundred. The areas that used to rely on those jobs? Well, that's ground zero for the opioid epidemic.
Isn't that horrible? Bold new technology, hope for the future, and it's killing people. The Horn of Plenty, spilling out garbage, ruin, and death.
And I'm not sure this can be changed. As Scott said in meditations, "The reasons Nature is red and tooth and claw are the same reasons the market is ruthless and exploitative." Or, more simply - patterns that are more capable of enduring, of propagating themselves, expand. Whether these patterns are the genes that form influenza, or the policies that drive colonialism, or the memes that drive capitalism, the outcome is the same. And if that pattern means unemployment and despair, if it means a "blizzard of prescriptions", if it means garbage and concrete, hunger and deprivation before the horn of plenty - then that's how it will be.
The hope of course, as in Akira, is that we will survive and rebuild, and that one day we will learn to control our power, learn to control ourselves, and solve all things. Or, at the very least, that things will go on.
But I'm worried that that's too optimistic? That ultimately, the world will be reduced to an endless expanse of machines, building machines, building machines, a pattern growing and expanding in all directions having forgotten why it was born, universal cancer, mechanisms in the image of hunger and violence having forgotten even the substance of these things.
And, yeah, I know this sounds like kind of a ridiculous worry, but... If you told a caveman of our world, it's ridiculous powers and how foolishly we waste them, wouldn't they laugh? Farms, factories, missiles, nukes? Homnelessness and poverty? Landfills and concrete? What a ridiculous fantasy. How could that ever come real? The earth is vast and green, you fool! In the face of such power, how could you possibly waste it? If you really had such things, it would be utopia, obviously! And indeed, by all rights we should live in utopia. By all rights, we should be able to sweep aside our problems like dust, like spidwerwebs! Swoosh swoosh, out the front door, into the street! Clean it all up before supper and sit down to eat in a clean, beautiful house.
And yet, here we are. Now, yes, things are getting better, a little bit, in some places. But this has been driven by our vast increase in productive potential, more than any increase in fundamental wisdom. Indeed, if anything it's made us more foolish. Intoxicated by our success, thoughtless and overconfident. Eager to rush into war, heedless of the waste. Confident that the consequences will be somebody else's problem.
I dunno, this is just my nightmare, more than anything coherent. But it is a persistent nightmare. Ask if you want me to explain anything here in more detail, I skimmed over a lot of things that deserve full posts of their own, instead of single sentences. Might take me a while to get back to you though. XD
The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!