My title here is somewhat deceiving. I am not talking about science-fiction plots, not those Terminator-style modern horror stories we warn ourselves with about developing technology. What I believe we should focus on is just how stupid our access to everything (in particular the numerous versions of truth cropping up) is making us. How lazy. It makes me wonder: have people reached their evolutionary peek? Is something out there ready to replace us?
Here’s a quote to extrapolate upon: “If every tool, when ordered, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it . . . then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers or of slaves for the lords.” That was Aristotle, sometimes around 320 BC. Nothing summarizes the danger of the modern world has more than these words. “If every tool . . . could do the work . . . there would be no need . . . of . . .” Try to put these words in any context and not feel the chill run down your spine.
But let’s be brief and cut to today. The truth is that we no longer really know anything. Look at the present young generation: they do not read, do not research, and often stare maddeningly at the beeping actions of morons on the internet. They watch clowns, really no different than the creepy characters from 1950s children’s shows, only now they are younger, unmasked, and far more reckless. They attempt stunts and vicious pranks. They try to break records of accomplishments that no one has ever cared enough about to record. They invent their own goals (which, conceptually, should be a good thing), but the puttering end of such exertion either ends with numbness or boredom, giving up and forgetting about ambition “I have 233 straight sign-ins on Instagram!” or “I came in third place on Fortnight!” or even, as another video game reference, “My player is hitting .622 with 105 home runs in MLB 2018, and it’s only halfway through the season!” They take these sophisticated blips on a computer screen seriously, as though they have triumphed personally over the all time greats.
But these are merely distractions from the true dangers of this downward path to utter dependency. The real trouble is the fact that we no longer know anything. We retain nothing. We do not even read directions on how to build or how to play. We ask the computer. With that subdued voice of either a cheerful American woman or an extra polite British man, or whichever other voice is programmed to give you information in any language, we hear the answers to anything we briefly wish to know. How to cook dinner. How to change a tire. How do we bathe our baby? What is a new way of having sex?
What I am stating is not an exaggeration–not by any means. Soon I suspect reading will be entirely a thing of the past, that warning of a post-literate society where everything is controlled and there is no reason to take responsibility for your own life. Everything is done for you. Every answer is on hand. There is no reason, really, to live.
The robots can claim the genetic material to keep humanity in existence, although in an increasingly debased state–the sort of poor creature trapped in the misery of a zoo. And the robots, never developing emotions or empathy, cannot relate to the suffering. It is all experimental. Because computers learn. We have taught them to learn. And they have advanced, they have evolved while we still sit here behaving exactly the same as we did in the Dark Ages. The only change to our social order has been the constant advance of technology. And now it is so far ahead of us, how long do you give humanity until we stop understanding what it is that we have done?