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You know those movies where killer Robots take over the world? I, Robot or Terminator are good examples of this genre. In this type of movie we are supposedly cathartically living out our fear that one day our technology will usurp our authority. The father is killed by the son as it were. And somehow, that doesn’t ring true for me. I don’t think our greatest fear is that our machines will take over the world. I think our greatest fear is that they already have.
I wait for bank machines to approve me. Complex computer programs are used to calculate how trustworthy I am to get a loan. Facebook tells me how many friends I have. Even this blog tells me how popular I am by the number of times people have clicked on this page.
More and more each day I am authorized, approved, or judged by an inorganic entity. Even childbirth is so mediated by technology that caregivers tend to look to the machines and not the person. I remember being strapped up on one of those labour monitoring devices while giving birth to my first. I gasped to my husband after a contraction “Oh, that one was really bad.” To which he replied “It wasn’t as bad as the last one.” Because you see the numbers on the screen readout hadn’t gone up as high as the previous contraction. “Uh, excuse me. I’m the one experiencing the pain here, not that G-D readout box.” Oh, my poor husband. Really, he was just trying to be comforting, and in his defense, there probably wasn’t a correct response at the time. My point is that I became just the wall outlet for the machines. They were plugged into me and I was emitting interesting data for everyone to write down (and ignore, but that’s a post for another time) on charts.
But beyond becoming the source by which we buoy up our self-esteem (or ride the wave of self-loathing), numbers dictate what it is that we like and think of as good art. Read this eye-opening article.
Scary stuff eh what? If I’m reading this correctly, it means that a widget is not just validating our artistic choices, it’s dictating them. Surveys do the same thing for politics.
Coming to a cinema near you, the action-packed drama starring Will Smith (there, I’ve mentioned a celebrity’s name, so now I’ll get more page hits)…