Imagine a young girl, maybe 20 years of age, who has been courted by an older man for a long time. He spoiled her with flattery and gifts and she felt on top of the world. Her parents were no where to be found, and the young girl came to depend wholly on the older man for her sustenance and for her sense of selfhood. She never hesitated to do his bidding, and she enjoyed the feeling of power and agency that it gave her. But her older lover was often absent and didn’t tell her where he was going or what he was doing. As she grew a little older and her beauty began to wane, and her lover’s affections cooled, she began to question the man’s actions and his intentions, and she began to wonder about herself – whether she had any life or identity independent of her keeper. She looked back on the years she had been by his side and started to perceive – as through a glass, darkly – that she had been deceived and abused and, to her deep embarassment, that she had welcomed it, not knowing any better. Now she is dazed and struggling to find her way before the walls close in.
This is one of many images that comes to mind when I consider the tragic situation of my country, the United States of America. Most of us have no understanding of the role we’ve played in the world.
How appealing are the following innovations, each of which is described in the above interview as a possibility in the not-so-distant future?
●Licking your phone to experience gourmet aromas and flavors?
●Having your company require virtual water cooler encounters to nudge more diverse interactions?
●Determining whether you and your spouse should accompany each other into the Meta where you date other virtual creatures?
●Education based on an AI profile of you that has run every possible scenario for your pathway?
●Having a digital twin of your child to coach you on what parenting decisions you ought to make?
Each of these scenarios assumes a fundamental shift in the order of human life and society, and the moral assumptions that hold them together. Do any of these things sound like a future we want for ourselves or our children?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a New Religious System
One of the most important concepts to grasp at the cusp of this catalysmic shift in human history is the fundamental model of managing wants and needs through predictive profiling. The Precision Economy is based on the power of an AI to know you better than you know yourself and to determine how to optimize you for the benefit of yourself and others, ostensibly leading to habits that generate less waste and more happiness. At its core, this type of human-management system is, I think, the result of an effort to erect a substitute for God – a project guided by man’s desire to believing that he is his own maker. Yuval Harari’s 2016 article in The New Statesman is a clear example of this type of existential grasping.
The assumption that metaphysical and ontological structures are changeable and changing is evident in an article I recently came across: an Age of Aquarius interview with Danish futurist, Liselotte Lyngsø. Her company, Future Navigator, markets “Future-as-a-Service” and other similarly nebulous offerings to its clients. Until recently, the fantastical projections of professional Futurists have seemed too far-fetched for the general population to take them seriously as a guide for personal or business planning. But the events of the past 2 years have brought the Fourth Industrial Revolution and all its technologies into the mainstream, and – as its architects are the ones who are currently driving the rapid transformation of human society – we would do well to pay more attention to the Futurists’ incredible predictions. They are absolutely serious in their efforts to foresee and to control new worlds on the basis of advances in high technology.
Skeptics may find it helpful to consider how technology has already been put into place at employers including WalMart and in schools in the United States. Moreover, according to the World Bank, the growth of educational gaming protocols – sometimes called “edutainment” – as a behavior-modification technique are being used in both corporate and education sectors. In 2017, an article by Jump Associates, an innovation strategy consultant to major corporations, describes how VR “experiences” can alter perceptions and lead to behavior change:
VR’s ability to transport people into situations that are physically and emotionally inaccessible shows much promise. Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is experimenting with using it to influence choices people make in their everyday lives. They’ve found that after VR interactions like playing the role of cow eating and drinking before being sent to slaughter, or virtually eating lumps of coal representing energy used to heat water while taking a shower, people see a connection between choices they make and the potential environmental costs of their actions.
Notice how, in the example above, human beings are presented with non-human – i.e. animal – experiences in order to encourage them to develop an emotional (vs. intellectual) commitment to carbon-reduction goals that are key to UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This type of attitude-management strategy is crucial to the Build Back Better, or impact economy, because it will not only increase a corporation’s ESG rating, it will also increase employee productivity by linking competitive gaming frameworks to job performance incentive strategy, as for example, in Salescreen’s product line.
How the ostensible conflict between competitiveness and empathy or global citizenship will be mediated in a future-world that takes all morality and metaphysical and ontological structures as fluid is anyone’s guess. My guess is that it will be decided by those who care more for management than they do for people.
In conclusion, I highly recommend listening to the 55 – minute podcast embedded in the Age of Aquarius article. Liselotte Lyngsø is optimistic, open-minded about the positive potential of these futuristic technologies, forthright in her assumptions, and blissfully unperturbed by the dystopian visions of humankind 2.0. In other words, she has bought into the 4IR ideology and will give you an honest tour of the best possible version of it. Of course, her naivete is demonstrated by her belief that we – regular people – will be able to determine how these technologies are put to use. I doubt that that is the case, but think rather that we will have no say whatsoever in transhumanocracy and its subjugation of all things genuinely human. The reality is that this agenda will be forced on us in the same manner as the coronapocalypse, as a set of VR goggles, and so many other titanic programs of domination.