With the recent debates surrounding AI improvement and the somewhat imminent AI takeover, I thought it would be interesting to return to the 20th century to analyse the debates on the rise of the machine and what we can learn from it today.
The early 20th century marked a time when the technological revolution was in full swing. With radio, mechanised factory work, and the First World War marked the new era of mechanised warfare, the intellectuals of the day were trying to make sense of this new modernised society. With the speed at which the changes occurred, people’s conception of reality was lagging.
The machine has narrowed spaces between people – the car allowed people to traverse space faster, and radio and telephone brought closer and practically instantaneous access to one’s family, friends, and acquaintances. The jobs were mechanised and people, as idealised by Marx, had the potential of being the ‘mere minders of the machine’. We are now entering another era. A time when Artificial Intelligence has the potential to replace most jobs. This is what Fisher in Post-Capitalist Desire has considered an opportunity for a post-scarcity society. But is this possible? Or rather should we heed Nick Land’s warning in Machinic Desire where he advised:
“Zaibatsus flip into sentience as the market melts to automatism, politics is cryogenized and dumped into the liquid-helium meatstore, drugs migrate onto neurosoft viruses, and immunity is grated-open against jagged reefs of feral AI explosion, Kali culture, digital dance-dependency, black shamanism epidemic, and schizolupic break-outs from the bin.” (Land, Fanged Noumena, 2011)
But let’s thrust away the shatters of this neo-automation and return to 1912, the time when this has only just begun.
Gilbert Gannan, in an article for Rhythm, wrote:
“Life is far too good and far too precious a thing to be smudged with mechanical morality, and fenced about with mechanical lies, and wasted on mechanical acquaintanceships when there are splendid friendships and lovely loves in which the imagination can find warm comradeship and adventure, lose and find itself, and obtain life, which may or may not be everlasting.” (Gannan, 1912)
In a quasi-perennial argument, he claims that mechanical morality and mechanism, in general, will never replace the real deal – the real concrete friendships and those we love.
This is an excerpt from “Mayday! Mayday!”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.