This wonderful Abney Park song shall be the theme song for this post.
I particularly like this song. In case you didn’t listen, it’s all about getting rid of modern technology and ideas. Which is obviously a good thing to sing about. There is a certain lie modern people are fed from birth that is very insidious, and the lie is that all progress is both inevitable, and a supreme good. I suppose this lie has been around for quite awhile, but people didn’t used to buy into it so much as they have in the last couple of hundred years. The desire for progress is natural. Everyone wants to progress in something, be it deeper into a relationship, further along the path to a black belt, closer to a goal of becoming a physician. On a collective level, those desires might be to progress toward peaceful relations with another country, toward winning a war, toward curing a disease. Don’t misunderstand me: progress is often good. But not all progress. Not all advancements in technology. Not all new ideas. And of course, progress itself is not inevitable, and it seems to me that often a progression in one area results in regression in another.
Humans have reached a point in their society where, now more than ever, they must begin making choices about which paths of progression to follow. Do they continue marching forward and developing new technologies? Or do they take a step back and evaluate which technologies are needed, which are not, which can be gotten rid of? It seems fairly obvious that the more technology humans develop, the more technology they “need”–the more they rely on it. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, and the only way out is to have the willpower to defy conventional ideas of progress and realize that a progression of wisdom is more important than a progression of technology. True progress is in having the maturity to make a wise choice, not in blindly accepting everything as it comes.
For example, one thing I find frustrating is the Singularity. This is the idea of a greater-than-human superintelligence arising from technology, i.e., artificial intelligence. It’s a big deal because it’s seen as a point beyond which events cannot be predicted, since this hypothetical intelligence would be greater than a human’s and therefor impossible for them to fully comprehend or predict. The Singularity is considered inevitable. They say it’s only a matter of time, and “they” don’t know whether the human race will be safe from this superintelligent machine. It seems pretty obvious to me that this is an occasion to step back and ask why. Why are we doing this? What will we gain from creating such a thing? Why would we want to? Why continue advancing technology to that point? But no, progress is inevitable and good and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. But humans are built to make choices. There is always a choice. One can choose to throw overboard destructive modern ideals and unnecessary modern technology, or one can decide to keep it and the consequences that come with it.
Now let’s all go be Luddites and destroy ALL the computers! 8D