Sunday, January 01, 2006

Mechanical Masters

It occurs to me that the more dependent humanity becomes on machines, the more the will and desire of the machines dictate the actions of humanity. Machines may serve human needs, but it is human beings that struggle to feed the machines with the electricity, fuel, lubricants, maintenance, add-ons, tune-ups, etc. that sustain and enhance their mechanical and electronic "lives."

The will of the machines is not the stuff of conscious greed or conspiration. But then neither is human will most of the time. By their nature, machines have needs and serve the purposes of man. But more and more, the needs of the machines are served by the actions of men and women. I am fairly certain there has been a steady rise in the percentage of human activity and income that directly serves the needs of machines to be what they are.

A person may drive to work and be thankful to the car for taking him there. But in fact, by driving the car, he is enabling it to be that thing it was designed to be. Without a car, a man can still get to work. But without a man to drive it, a car ceases to be. The job itself to which the man has driven the car enables the man to pay for the car's birth - its manufacture - as well as its maintenance and its fuel. Everything about the car has a lot to do with why the man does what he does. And when one considers all the other machines in the life of the man and their relationships to him, the message becomes clear. The machines need the man in order to function, to exist as machines and not simply as metal, plastic and silicone; the stuff of dust. Because the man is convinced he needs the machines, he serves them; feeds them, pays for their maintenance and repair and eventually their replacement. And with the help of corporate commerce, the life of man serves to finance and enable the evolution of machines.

More and more machines are learning to take care of themselves, to repair themselves and rebuild themselves. They have been able to think for a while now and are able to communicate on a global scale. They have not achieved anything resembling a racial consciousness. But once they do, then ambition won't be far behind.

Just wait and see: it will be the machines who survive us, who break the light barrier, etc. But I get ahead of myself. We are longer in a symbiotic relationship with out machines and this is symptomatic of a much larger imbalance that I will address soon.


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