I would like to bring your attention to love.
Love is something that is largely left out of the conversations about technology and automation – and it shouldn’t be.
Well, let’s go back to the basics. Human existence is mysterious – but I think it is safe to say that the one thing that everybody wants is to feel good.
Yes, we are all different. Yes, the things that make us feel good are very different, too. But we all live for that feeling. We don’t want to be neglected, we want to be in place where we matter, where we are in control as much as we want to be, and where we are not being destroyed.
We want it, and that feeling is not mathematical. It is not dry, abstract, or dissectable. It is vibrant, it is subjective, and it is its own mysterious thing.
What does it have to do with automation? Everything!
Automation presumes that efficiency is good and desirable in absolute terms – but we don’t live for efficiency. See, the tricky and hilarious thing about efficiency is that its defenders typically try to impose it on other people – while allowing themselves to remain just as human and free-roaming as they wish to be.
The famous example is how the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates limit their own children’s access to technology while telling the rest of the world that technology is universally and ubiquitously amazing. Factory owners gladly impose efficiency on the former independent craftsmen and their descendants. Office managers impose efficiency on the office slaves. Makers of software sell efficiency to the general population.
But while walking freely in their own shoes, the salesmen of efficiency like to look at the sky and smell the flowers. At best, they are willing to sacrifice a chunk of their lives to the rat race – so that they can get out of the rat race as soon as possible and do what’s fun – look at the sky and smell the flowers. Slowly.
In a world where no marketers are trying to convince us that being a lonely and sociopathic consumer is great (hello, Seamless), taking the time to walk slowly and look around – as well as to talk to other humans – is a source of joy.
When you go to the store, you don’t just purchase something. You chat with the cashier, you trade stories with your fellow shoppers, and you leave the store with a smile on your face.
If you don’t want to deal with humans, I can bet you anything that it’s because you are under pressure and tired as fuck.
When you smell those flowers – it’s a communion.
These are not ‘experiences.’ This is life itself. Mysterious and fully present. Life is unquantifiable, and those who want to quantify it and sell it back to us, neatly packaged, are assholes. End of story. They are assholes and butchers. They seek to cut the tops off the people’s heads so that we forget about the world in which we could look at the sky any time and feel the awe.
Nobody can convince me otherwise.
When your ‘shopping experience’ makes you feel like you are probably the only person on Earth and everybody else is just a movie playing on the background, you are being cheated out of being a part of the human community.
When the automatic plow touches the ground, it is acting like a creepy mechanical mother that is depriving the unsuspecting child of the unquantifiable human love – with every stroke of her mechanical, sensor-equipped hand.
When a robo-bee lands on a flower and starts ‘pollinating it’, the flower probably feels raped with a cold metal dildo.
A mechanical interaction is a far cry from the magic of interacting with a loving living being. It is an act of cheating. It is an act of spiritual abuse.
But look how nonchalantly, how cozily we talk about it. We don the air of confidence, we pretend that we are rational, mechanical creatures, we make believe that we have it under control. I suspect that it’s because we are too scared to admit to being small, naked, mysterious living beings floating on a small, beautiful mysterious planet, with very little clue as to what’s out there.
But even the scientists have come up with various studies proving that in the absence of mother’s physical touch, children end up a tad fucked up. Thank you, scientists. It is kind of obvious but thank you.
I am waiting for the scientists to declare that Taylorism and systems management were a bad idea. I am waiting.
Any time now.