– William Bramley, The Gods of Eden
Eventually Mankind will have to learn the truth about his origins and face the fact that his gods and ancestors were reptiles, truly monsters by any of our current definitions.
– R.A. Boulay, Flying Serpents and Dragons
Your descendants will not be human forever.
– Elise Bohan, ‘On becoming posthuman’
A very large clinical trial showed that Comirnaty is effective in preventing COVID-19 in people aged 16 years and older.
– Australian Government, ‘Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine’
Misinformation or disinformation? Same or different? Both mislead. Yet the latter – fraud, perjury etc. – is intentional. Of course, not all statements are 100% true or false. Still, the either-or bias prevails: even as gender diversity is progressively embraced by a rabidly PC establishment (suspect, coupled with complacency re surveillance and internet censorship), society seeks to define new binaries (vaxxed/unvaxxed). Do right/wrong and other schisms arise from our bilateral brain structure?
We live and die by information in this digital age, including fake news and fun factoids, whether for work or distraction. Fiction, too, is information, given a little interpretation. In contrast, facts can supposedly be taken at face value.
Enter infomercials, or marketing masquerading as fact – not unlike those scholarly medical articles, easy to find online, based on research funded by Big Pharma. Speaking of marketing, I first saw the brand name of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine on the consent form I had to sign for my mother. Comirnaty: it sounded nonsensical to me, evoking nothing definite, let alone effective. Yet funnily enough, it was designed to combine the concepts of COVID-19, mRNA, community and immunity. Look again and it also appears to include the concepts of comedy, Omicron and Individual Reference Number (as in Medicare… ComedicCare?). Which reminds me…
About two months ago, I had Covid. Apparently. Though I didn’t take a test, my partner tested positive after developing flu-like symptoms, and chose to isolate at my place, rather than put an aged father at risk. And it’s unlikely I caught Covid anywhere else; the first round of lockdowns killed my modest social life, and exclusionary policies re the unjabbed didn’t help. Yet my symptoms remained so mild that my double-jabbed partner, who sounded and felt extremely unwell, doubted I had the same virus.
A few weeks later I saw my GP mask to mask (to get a new script for Chinese herbs), our first consultation since I’d declined to book in for a Covid shot. How had I been, my GP asked. At the news of a bug those clinically trained ears pricked up, so I described my slight symptoms. Covid, my GP confirmed with total certainty. My partner had had it much worse, I said. ‘Vaccinated?’ Double-jabbed (by my GP, in fact). Re my ailing social life, I’d been getting out, though, my GP asked hopefully, since I’d had Covid? (Protected by natural immunity?) I clarified that Covid hadn’t worried me for some time; none of my unvaxxed friends had suffered more than minor symptoms, if any. Everyone I knew of who’d had a bad case had been vaxxed. Oops. The vibe in the room changed subtly yet abruptly. Time to wind up. ‘Have a good year,’ my GP said, sincerely. My genuinely well-meaning GP is a leftie – something we used to have in common before I noticed an odd phenomenon. Charles Eisenstein articulates it nicely:
Has anyone else noticed two opposed sociocultural commentaries? One, ordained by Big Tech, foresees increased efficiency and convenience with the progressive enmeshment of us and machines: a transhuman or posthuman future. AI evangelist Ray Kurzweil predicts exponential advancement culminating in the singularity : the point at which technology becomes self-aware. Impossible, say some. (And isn’t self-awareness relative? Not all humans possess a fair share.) Yet, in the words of Kurzweil
apologist apostle Elise Bohan: ‘Our best hope for the future is to seize the evolutionary reins […] taking care to develop AIs with values and motivations that are aligned with our goals of surviving and flourishing.’
Good luck. If such limitless faith in technology makes you shudder even a touch, why not cut those much-mocked conspiracists some slack? The notion of a microchipped vax is an eloquent expression of a not unhealthy instinctual fear. For decades now, we’ve been immersed in metaphors equating human functions and computation, despite the crass inadequacies of such comparisons – one irony being that technology is numbing and making us dumber as we become more addicted to it, a vicious circle reminiscent of an abusive relationship where the dominant person criticises, shames and seeks to control the child, partner, servant, student etc. to the extent that they lose, or fail to develop, any independence.
The other, alternative narrative, thriving at the margins, espouses or amounts to counter-cultural reality hacking. Typically mixing knowledge of history, ecology, ancient mysteries and/or esoteric ‘technologies’, it offers ways of shifting lenses, or accessing other dimensions unaided by VR goggles, brain implants etc. (You might even pick up some gardening and healthcare tips.) According to this narrative, increasing climate instability, dwindling resources (just one hindrance to transitioning to renewables), and the fall of not just the US empire but modern civilisation, guarantee that technology will fail to fulfil its promise. The writing’s already on the wall. Kindle has yet to put books out of business, while who can afford a driverless car? And the richest man on our planet has launched a shitload of satellites into its orbit, polluting our atmosphere even more (forget SpaceX and think CongestionX) – but what of Elon Musk’s plans for a manned Mars mission? Given such stellar examples of what passes for human intelligence, should we be surprised if or when machines exceed it?
There is so much to think about here.
The frightening thing I feel is that, as part of the ‘life force of creation’, humans have access to intelligence that is limitless, which then gets corrupted through our small computing system we call a brain, mix that with this phenomena of a psychological ego and personality, which is loaded with habitual and karmic wounding and we arrive in something like the mess we find ourselves and the ‘monster’ of AI.
I love your story of the visit to your GP.
Thank you as always for your insights and capacity to voice and create provocative essays.
Thanks for reading & for your thoughts. What you say re psychology & wounding seems hugely important – it’s the elephant in the room; the messiness of being human that AI proponents seem so bent on avoiding/denying, & which no doubt accounts for some of the deformities of AI’s manifestations to date.
I no longer know…anything. I think, perhaps, no-one does, which is why we are in such as mess. I suspect many of us are just doing what we think is best for us and, if we are so inclined, for our family, community and world. Others seem to think it’s a game and just do without a second thought, especially if it creates some new invention or it makes $$$. Humans, and nature generally, are incredibly inventive yet we are just not so good at predicting repercussions/outcomes. Nature just adapts because it is forced to, humans think they have the right to resist and fight. In the end, if we don’t get it right, whatever ‘right’ is, we will be forced as well.
Thanks for your thoughts, as always, Annette! Not knowing anything – which is not my experience of you, BTW – strikes me as an apt characterisation of the general climate of Western society these days. And yet I think there are different ways of knowing, some of them not entirely unreliable. Instinct. Intuition. Reasoned reflection that takes personal & collective history into account… Google searches or asking Alexa are part of the problem, IMO. A balance between head & heart seems helpful when it comes to knowing what’s best. ‘Trust the science’, advice I’ve often heard in the last 2+ years, sounds like a directive to delegate my critical, analytical faculties. If science doesn’t make sense, maybe it’s gotten entangled w/ vested interests. I’d rather trust my gut; let the microbiome guide me.
I doubt my views on automation are so lofty as yours. I’m marginally aware of the Singularity, a surrogate Communion of the Saints. However, I’m skeptical not of the potentially but of the execution. Every iota of technology had been subverted to commercial means following, more or less, WW2. The more automisation occurs, the more irrelevant exponential swaths of mankind become. The more apparent the dunce bracket you mentioned seems. Perhaps this explains the histrionics about Eugenics – whatever that is – among some circles. They sense the impending inevitability of their sector society as the margins between elite and hoi polloi, lumpenprole et al, are ameliorated. Perhaps not a conscious reckoning, but a sublimated reactionary pulse. After all, how meaningful will all these arbitrary contrivances about social constructs be when Spellcheck becomes self aware and checks your pronouns? Anyway. You’re a very thoughtful writer. You bring up interesting thought exercises.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Part of the problem for me re the execution, as you call it (& one meaning of which evokes some folks’ worst fears about machine sentience), is that our civilisation has come to rate left-brain logic, such as it is, over right-brain holism. If that’s what we value – statistical analyses etc. – then we grow ever more dependent on & subservient to Big Tech & AI, hence disposable: a logical progression from treating the natural world as disposable. Eugenics: such a loaded word, having been politicised to the extent that folk can’t think clearly when they hear it. So they don’t see it when it appears. Like, shopping for a superior sperm donor has nothing to do w/ selective breeding. 😉 And don’t get me started on pronouns…
My pronouns are can’t/keep/up. Ah, statistics. Every armchair autist’s best bloody friend. There was an interesting episode of the Art of Manliness I heard the other day which made an interesting case. That Gut (instinct) is the result of complex calculation undertaken by the less actively conscious parts of the brain with a rapidity that the frontal brain would only bog down. As to statistics themselves, I think they’re a ticket to lazy thinking. Statistics are like the hammer to make the square peg fit the round hole. That whole one-size must needs fit all mentality. Convenient, saves us from measuring variables against expectations.
Seems to me that statistics were one of the main tools used to instil fear in the mass mind (such as it is) during peak Covid. Most folk don’t really understand statistics, or how readily they can be manipulated & selectively reported. But most folk are used to trusting statistics: thinking they’re ‘scientific’. Lazy thinking is a generous assessment.