By Brendan Heard
There is much talk of our automated future. Robots and machines of ever-increasing power gradually eliminating the need for busy human hands. Driver-less cars and trucks, crops and fields harvested by fuel-burning advanced appliances, all culminating in an assembly line of processed food and goods delivered via unmanned vending machines and drones. A complex robotic dance that will supposedly take the human touch away from the process we call modern survival. The dream-future culmination of the larval and perpetually seated ‘last man’. While this undesirable, plasticized, and labour-free future is spoken of in hushed whispers as though it were inevitable and necessary, I do not believe that any of it will come to pass. Or, if it comes to pass, it will do so only to a certain degree and only for a short duration, and then only in some farcical programmed accompaniment to disintegrating neoliberal social routines.
My reasons are as follows.
Overconfidence in Technology
Firstly, I would point to the mistaken faith in technology, the failure to understand what technology is, and where it comes from.There is no mechanical replacement for the nuances of the organic human touch in any craft or techne, in any type of creation from the simplest to the most monumental.
What is it? Derived from the Greek, the root of techne is τέχνη, is often translated as ‘craftsmanship’, ‘craft’, or ‘art’. Technology being the artful and functional answer to philosophical questions posed in the spirit of experiment and curiosity. It is not a ‘commercial’ exploit, and its social benefit in any sense is generally incidental. It is the pursuit of knowledge; it is Fleming discovering penicillin and Galileo the telescope; it is derived from the combination of imagination and ingenuity of the people who’s word this is. It is not produced by an ability universal to the entire globe.
What is the functional point of a driverless car over a train? The driverless car faces many variables requiring the organic deftness of a human hand (to avoid the almost limitless random accident possibilities). If it is a matter of perpetually following a single route, what is the advantage of the expensive and intricate technology required to keep the road filled with insentient automatons? And how is their use then practical when it merely displaces a human work force that is then either dangerously mass-impoverished, or in need of state benefits to survive? At what point does the locally grown and made become less hassle than the super-complex system?
Additionally there is the ongoing conundrum of the ‘robot’ as a concept. Robots require enormously expensive, technical, highly trained assemblers and maintenance systems, simply to create a less functional facsimile of a creature (a human worker) which you can create by making love to a woman. As there are abundant humans about, and as their creation is an intricate aspect of our life’s purpose,lives which require employment and fulfilment and meaning, the creation of a less capable, high-maintenance machine to clumsily imitate and supposedly replace a human seems irrational. The ridiculous plastic sex dolls of contemporary ill repute come to mind – a totally pointless carnival trick for the perverse misanthrope. Only by the spoiled American values of luxury-increasing and wilful idleness (an anti-Greek notion) can we rationalize the creation of bordellos of plastic sex dolls which are themselves inferior even to one’s unaided imagination. It is that feeble techno-excitement of the latest iphone, the convenience-culture mob frenzy for the latest ease-increasing knick-knack. Which itself only sets an already declining culture along a new axis, replacing abundant old jobs with fewer much more specialized ones, all to attain a pathetic quasi-democratic pipe-dream that cheapens life for everyone on the seemingly bottomless ride from quality to quantity.
But every ride comes to an end.
Better to have our usable technology made by human hand, than the illusory techno-culture excitedly peddled by our hidden oligarchy, as the chaotic brainwashed hordes bolt randomly through their lives like rats in a maze.
Like the sterile and overly fluid CGI ‘blockbusters’ we blandly endure, a lifeless process is set in motion, where the illusion of an improved system results in a miserable re-organization of labour toward a lifeless and often dysfunctional end result. The work of human hands is a paramount requirement of true art. It is organic change, with its errors and random twists, which increases complexity and heightens virtuous challenges. It is the spreading, dividing branches of the upward-growing tree.
We Are the Technology
We are transitioning from the master class to the slave class, and our technology will fade away as we retreat. Where does technology come from? Obviously, techne is a concept from classical antiquity. It springs from their history and unique worldview, and the apparatus of their combined imaginations, forged in familial united labour, and furthered under a normal functioning society beneath their stewardship. It is the transmitted knowledge of tradition, handed down from fathers to sons, advanced incrementally by each new generation since recorded history dragged us out of plant-like ice-age animism.The very purpose of the automated society will fade, as everything fades in the false shadow of a culture which no longer sees its future in the faces of its children.
But the true technological age is at least partially over, because the men who produced it have lost control of their society and are ruled by the contrivances of said technology. The remnant fire of their inventions are currently maintained only by a very faint pragmatic flame, itself kindled by the necessity of these men feeding their families. Yet they are trapped in a civilization removed from their stewardship, and for this reason both it and they are failing. When all the high technology that is their creation (and which in a natural scenario would be theirs to do with as they see fit) is officially peddled away by those hostile to the idea of that civilization and its history, that technology will begin to fail.
Like poisoning the roots of a tree and still expecting its branches to bloom.
It will lose purpose, it will evaporate in a cloud of cultural confusion. It may morph and alter goals, so as to survive for a time, but its very impetus, its kinetic energy, must alter as surely as different tribes of men have diverging goals. Thus, when we go, so does our creation. The liberal hysteria-dream that creative power is universal, and that only happenstance and cruelty gave European men any advantage, will be left naked in its deceit. Smooth technological ballets of driver-less cars and intricate robotics (requiring impossibly Utopian low-crime and riot-free environments) will not exist when Western countries are officially ruled with an iron fist by entitled managerial feminists, speculating corporate conglomerates, and gangster-rapping mayors. These systems will increase in tension and dysfunction and eventually collapse. We will not be able to run so much as a bus service, let alone some naïvely optimistic Jetsons-world of automated conveyor belt idleness.
And yes, we will be displaced, and we will be suffering, before it is all over, because the average man was too cowardly to face his cognitive dissonance, or his new relationship to technology. But in the cycle of things great sweeping changes are as inexorable as the wind.
If the goal is to put most of us out of work, with the remainder literally enslaved to keep the machine turning for foreign masters, this too is perhaps an irrational religious mistake on the part of our money-power overlords. They overestimate their own abilities, and the nature of the disparate groups they are grating against one another. A peaceful and intact global shopping-mall world of their imagining is a foolish dream which over-optimistically ignores the chaotic laws of entropy, parsimony, and tribalism.
The Human Hand Does It Better
People need rewarding employment, not increased luxury and lethargy. There is no mechanical replacement for the nuances of the organic human touch in any craft or techne, in any moulded and intricate invention, in any type of creation. The assembly-line process and its supposed time-saving fruits benefit only the profiteers among the economy-manipulators, the materialist bosses and the nefarious middle-men, all of whom are concerned only with wealth-accruement for its own sake, and work-avoidance as spiritual credo. Materialism and gold-collecting were once considered vices and not virtues. In this sense it would be better to have open slavery, for we ourselves are already in a situation of early enslavement – albeit undeservedly, as we have enslaved ourselves. But we falsely feel we are free.
Nothing can change the reality that dictates that in terms of final product it remains better to use human hands, in employment or labouring under whatever motivation and in any medium, than to seek recourse to the lifeless work of machines. We have no work end-goals today of any value, and pat ourselves on our backs for our freedom-values which are fed to us by manipulators.
There is no replacing a human hand for a machine, for the ‘human touch’: that is, the exciting and baffling nuances of eccentricity, of excellence-in-the foibles, of creating things that resonate with spiritual value as well as utilitarian. There will never be a purely technical replacement for the human being, who will do a better job or who will dream up purposes that require jobs to begin with.
In summary, in my opinion the automated future will simply not come to pass for the stated reasons: Because we are better off using human capital, and we can create humans by natural reproduction; and this human, who emerges naturally, can hopefully feed himself most his life without a machine’s maintenance cost, not to speak of the fact that he always has the potential to become his own wealth generator. There is no hidden potential within a machine lying beyond its explicitly designed purpose. And should the naturally created human face the choice of slavery or death, it is best not to be distressed by this fact, but to hope that he will spend his time in some worthwhile endeavour. We today have had easy lives but no proper purpose. But the creation of life is the affirmation of life, and whatever nature’s plan, we must seed our plot and strive ever upwards, never shirking from the duties imposed by life’s harsh necessities.
Automation will not happen because complex machinery has additional limitations and drawbacks in terms of unpredictable accident-creation (due to cognitive reaction limitations). It will not happen because of its pollution, its fuel-necessities, its expensive high-tech upkeep, the aftermath unemployment for the humans it replaces, and the new lower-ability unemployed who will have neither the ability nor the interest to maintain it. Parsimony is built into existence, and increased complexity is very rarely the easiest or best route to any pragmatic result.
And if none of those reasons are convincing, then finally and most importantly, automation will not happen because technology is above all the artifice of a certain tradition of man, and is gradually now in decline along with him, and will fail completely when he is removed absolutely from its preservation and husbandry. The very purpose of the automated society will fade, as everything fades in the false shadow of a culture which no longer sees the future with heroism or optimism.
Nothing at all of any value will happen until we once again have our own space to breathe freely. All grand predictions and projects will be half-hearted and futile, even those that are planned toward further suppressing and dissolving us, for all peoples sincerely believe themselves to possess the abilities of the men who developed techne.
They do not.