Postmodern classic?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Technology taking over the world

I’ve just watched a movie called ‘Stealth’, about advanced technology taking going haywire. An experimental fighter jet is run by a program that malfunctions, giving it access to all kinds of military information and power, making it a military threat first to enemies but then eventually to the builders. Turns out all right in the end, but it did make me think of a few things in the process. It’s another rehash of the ‘technology’ taking over archetype, most perfectly represented in the Terminator series. Or the malicious Hal 2000 in ‘2001’.

This threat of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is a recurring theme in popular fiction, but if I think back on it, it isn’t new. By definition, archetypes point at the primal urges of our psyche. This fear of the inanimate animating itself can be seen to me most clearly as the civilized looking down at the uncivilized, such as the ‘Barbarians at the Gate’. The men and people of the Classics had the latest technology and tactics of the day, and always worried about keeping them away from their enemies. They did this by enforcing a separation of them by tradition and culture. The Spartans worried that, as a part of Lycurgus’s laws, if they waged war too much on their neighbors they would learn their methods and be able to defeat them. As Epaminondas eventually did later with the Thebans in their uprising shattering the Spartan rule. The Romans worried about training the tribes, in the fear they would turn against them. And they were right to worry, as seen with Arminius uniting the Germans, as well as later the Roman-trained Huns sacking Rome, along with the Gaul’s numerous attempts.

They considered these people to be barbarians, incapable of civilized thought or actions. Contradictorily, they feared them wielding the tools of civilization with their modern military methods of the day. The Iranian situation is a good parallel, or WMD’s in general- undeveloped, theocratic or communist enemies wanting the power of nuclear weapons to make up for other shortcomings. Although that topic is relevant I shall have to restrict it to another discussion, as I am raising it here only to show it’s comparison to this recurring archetype. We seem to have this surprising parallel with the contemplation of computers, although I would suggest that this is probably more to stay in the annals of science fiction than present reality. But the idea of barbarians- those incapable of civilization or logical thought- remains a fear of our people. Of those educated in the Western civilization, we rightly fear those who don’t share our values. Therefore, empowering them with our technology would be very dangerous, you don't want to wake up with the Terminators putting their feet on your neck! The problem with the development of technology is not that it develops out of control, but that it is easily abused by the people it is now accessible to- when prior it was unavailable and inaccessible.

What to do about it then, do we sit around with our multi-cultural niceties, or do we destroy those who would do the same to us (but seem to only lack the means)? The movies seem to usually have a good ending, maybe it'll work out that way here as well. Haha...


  • i agree with you on some parts. But i do believe that we are making robots "TOO" smart! I mean we already have robots that can think for themselfs and make their own decisions without any human interaction at all! Either way i think that we as a human race are, in a sence "morons". We are killing our planet, and i am not much of an enviormentalist at all or anything. But if we where to dissapear off of the earth, everything else would flourish without our existance. We are a "disease" in a way of saying. In my opinion, out of the whole universe, i think kansas said it best with the song, "dust in the wind" that is all we are. we are nothing that will change anything in the future of space or the universe.

    By Anonymous jonathan, at 10:33 AM  

  • i disagree with every thing you put on your website. And really do think that robots are going to take over the world.If your someone like me who always goes for the real facts, you would know that robots aren't going to take over the world and eat our brain ,eyes and any other organ in and out.After reading this if you still believe that robots are going to take over the world well here's my advise "you watch TOO much t.v and STOP WATCHING T.V FOR ABOUT YOUR LFE AND START READING BOOKS ABOUT ROBOTS AND HOW FRIENDLY THEY ARE.(That means they're not going to take over the world)

    By Anonymous Lara West, at 3:17 AM  

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