And a binary good evening to you, too
“The main danger that arises from machine intelligence,” according to according to philosopher Byung-Chul Han, “is that human thinking will adapt to it and itself become mechanical.” One of the characteristics of information generated by computers is that it is data and only data. It can be added to, theoretically ad infinitum, but the machine does not understand or provide the means of understanding the data it generates.
Now just imagine, if you can, for a moment, a nation, a very powerful nation, perhaps the most powerful nation in the world at least from a military standpoint, whose leaders and ancillary decision-makers, are totally in the thrall of mechanical thinking, a form of thinking capable of an infinity of data, infinite addition, an infinity of selections between 0 and 1, the Binary Wonder Itself, but cannot either construct a narrative for itself or understand – may Silicon Valley forfend – the history of another nation, a nation that still understands itself historically if only due to dire necessity.
What if, every time the mind of an American leader threatens to have an historical thought and mentions it out loud, he, she, or they, is instantly inundated by another mountain of data thoughtfully provided by some tender of the Machine in order to help in the sacred “decision-making process.”
The Machine, which recognizes no other, cannot help us understand what the Russians are doing. We might understand them better if we listened to them, but that kind of thinking, oh worthless American peasant, will get you buried in a mountain of data on the sex habits of post-Soviet oligarchs which will titillate you until the missiles are launched.
In fact, liberal democracy is algorithmically wired into the Machine, and it is according to this particular bananas political fundamentalism that all other political systems in that hostile (not yet completely info-transformed) world are viewed. And what does not correlate with the algorithm in the Machine does not exist.
But, now that the distraction of the sex habits of Russian oligarchs has been raised (perish the thought we’d raise the issue of Ukrainian or American oligarchs), let us pause for a moment or perhaps longer to lament the disappearance of sex from Washington DC.
Yes, my fellow Americans, we are a long way from Wilbur Mills and the Argentinian Firecracker. In fact, the only sex permitted in Washington anymore, unless you import it yourself from the provinces or consort with the illegals that abound off every main drag, is reading streams of lurid data about the sex lives of Russian oligarchs.
But, say, for the purposes of conversation, you don’t know the rules of the road, so to speak, and enter a bar, with your smartphone tucked away in your pocket, order a drink at the bar and say hello to the lady next to you (I am assuming a male readership, reverse one or all depending on your he, she, or they-ist tendency), who is righteously reading what’s on her smartphone. You’re lucky if you escape with no more than an extremely hostile glance because you are interrupting her concentration on vital data being communicated to her by … well, that’s another question, isn’t it. But the point is, you interrupted her. (Or they, whatever.)
Well, rebuffed, you turn to your other neighbor, a young fellow like yourself, ambitious, bright, you can tell he went to the right schools, and like you, is inching his way up the ladder to Power. Ah, Power. Another topic for another day.
You say, “Hi. How ya doing?” or words to that effect. He looks up from his smartphone, sighs, stares down again at his smartphone, and gropes your inner thigh with his free hand. You have absolutely no play at this point but to show him briefly a certain wrist hold taught to you by a cop when you were in high school. As he withdraws from his stool and dashes out of the bar screaming threats of lawsuit, you pull out your smartphone and dial up the latest entries for the sex lives of Russian oligarchs, until the lurid details are interrupted, all at once throughout the room, by a news bulletin on all the smartphones announcing that Congress has just voted additional billions of dollars in US-made weapons to the Ukraine.
“Like it’s on the Black Sea, right?” you offer in a pleasant voice to the lady. She glares back and you become aware again, as you often do in Washington DC, of the deficiencies of your PhD from a public university.
“Well, is it?” you say, a bit more assertedly.
“Who the fuck cares where it is?” replies Little Miss Fancy, showing you she’s a real man under that pantsuit.
“Maybe the Russians do?” you suggest.
“I repeat, to end this boring conversation,” she says, “WHO THE FUCK CARES what Russians think?”
“I guess it doesn’t matter what they think, then?” you say softly, as if to yourself.
“Gawd, you are an annoying little man,” says Little Miss Multitasker, pecking away furiously with her thumbs at her smartphone. “What are you, some kind of PEACENIK or something? You look old enough.”
At just the mention of that word, “peacenik,” every head in the room raised up from its handheld device and glared at me. Then the bartender leaned over and said, gently but insistently, “Peace, you know, kid, is a concept. In fact, it’s a fuckin’ idea, kid, and ideas don’t fly here in DC – no money in ‘em. Look around: they just want the data. Ideas are an insult to their intelligence and their bank accounts. There’s just the one thing: America is the greatest. That’s all. Except, you wanna get laid, go on line.