As we sit on the cusp of further technological developments which will continue to radicalise our perception of the world and our place in it, the question arises of whether we are the chicken or the egg.
Have we made a world in our own image or have we become a by-product of the world we have created? With computers assuming powers that were previously sacrosanct as our authority (please open those doors, Hal), what reassurance do we have that we aren’t delegating that responsibility to a set of transistors and printed circuit boards?
This is surely not a new topic but one that is becoming more and more a serious consideration with the likes of Eugene and his future cousins. Without dwelling on the sci-ﬁ implications, our own sense of identity is being transformed when the tyranny of distance is no longer a natural boundary.
We have seen this happen with the rise of mobile communications, the instant accessibility of people and knowledge combining to melt differences between us.
How can this be a threat?
Computers love symmetry, mathematics and classical music share common ground in their love for structure and science is starting to dance with religion in the quest for our true fabric of existence.
We are creatures of habit. We are predictable in our emotional responses. We love to belong to a greater whole. Starting to sound like child physchology? Too simplistic perhaps?
Expert knowledge has been digitised. Computers ﬂy our planes, will drive our cars and cook our meals and soon be monitoring us down to the colour of our underpants.
So who’s in control and does it really matter?
Maybe they can make better decisions than us. Perhaps many of the physical problems we face will be alleviated and eventually removed. But what about our sense of achievement and identiﬁcation with the spoils of victory? Where is our pride in involvement with outcomes?
The only thing that will surpass these trepidations is the knowledge of who we are and what we’re here for. It’s ‘game over’ for patting ourselves on the back for making ‘progress’.
Machines do that now.
Machines can’t do that.
The way to preserve our identity is by remembering that.