Monday, December 14, 2009

The Human Factor

So who's in control, Kasey wonders, us or the machines?

Dan says that ship may have sailed:

Aside from a post-apocalyptic Terminator or Matrix scorching the sun so the
machines can’t live but we survive in a stone age world, I think that what I
want to stress, which McLuhan would agree with the contrary, is that human
beings should be in control; we should be using machines and technology to
better our lives, when in fact, we have become a slave to them, unable to live
without them. It is scary reading McLuhan’s book knowing it was written in the
60s. The fact that we are dominated by machines proves McLuhan’s idea that since
the message is the medium, it has changed the way we as a society thinks and

Interesting how many of us thought about SkyNet this week.


Should we be nervous? That is one of my questions as I consider the significant
power of the internet in our lives. In thinking about the notion that artists
are more sensitive to shifts in culture, especially when it comes to media, I
can’t help but ponder Terminator, I Robot, Minority Report, and even that flop
of a film with poor Sandra Bullock, The Net. All of the stories behind these
films show a world taken over by the machines, and that world is scary and out
of control. I think humans have always been at least a bit dubious of machines,
computers, and the internet. I remember when people were reluctant to begin
using debit cards.


Is this the maximum depth? Can any more information be available to us than
there is (or potentially could be) on the internet? Is the next step a Sky-Net
or brain implants? It's scary to consider, but given our proclivity to do
exactly as McLuhan warns against and adopt new technologies before thinking of
their consequences, it might just be possible.


But then there's a separate set of issues about who stores stuff and where that
stuff is stored. I don't really speak the language of server farms and clustered
networks ... yet. But I feel like that's important in a way most of us don't
get. I mean, it's like "Terminator." A lot of power is flowing over to the info
equivalent of SkyNet. It's probably too important for us to let ourselves be
stupid about it, you know?

John, at some length.

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