Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The 21st Century Hunter-Gatherer

The idea that Google is conquering the world is not original, but the idea that in the next ten to twenty years they will invent a nano-sized Search Engine microchip which, if inserted atop your cerebral cortex will provide you with all the information ever posted online, is definitely ridiculous…but plausible.

I got this thought while staring at a big black dog outside my front porch. I’d just driven across the country without cruise control so my mind and right leg were shot. But I kept staring at him, and he kept staring back at me, and I thought, what if he could be smarter than me? Dogs are incredible, as a bunch of you I’m sure know, and if any animal were to conquer us from some kind of surprise- advanced evolutionary attack, I’d want it to be shit tzus…millions of millions of shit tzus.

In any case, I didn’t know what breed of dog I was having a staredown with, and, being conditioned by the 21st century techno-human age, I wanted to Google it.

What if the black dog had Google inside his head?

The two owners of Google have stated very loudly and with aggressive fist pumps that they want to create A.I., but I think the next step lies with ‘The Genius Chip’. Advertised like this…

The Genius Chip works by putting on the two paper thin black gloves and putting your hands together. Next, you tap your fingers together “Like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. Yeees. Excellent.” As your fingers make contact with each other, search pages shoot from the tips into your brain, through electric plosives. You can get high-speed by purchasing a chip ‘no larger than the lead on a sharpened pencil’ and having it surgically attached to your frontal lobe.

Would this invention change everything? Obviously. The fiction novel would die because our attention spans would be reduced to a baby needing changed. Multi-tasking would become a religion, and the phrase ‘A jack of all trades, but a king to none’ would become a mantra chiseled into a mountain. Conversations would end in moments, interrupted by frequent bursts of ‘Ooh, check this out’, or ‘Whoa…cool.’ You’d see streets upon streets of people tapping their fingers together and drooling, the world’s information now inside everyone.

How would the world change in this regard? Personally I think I’d see a large spike of economic growth for a period of thirty years followed by a disease called ‘Recessive Brain Control’ (RBC) which would cause millions to randomly freak out while setting cars on fire and hitting them with very large sticks, purchased online from Green Amazon dot com. After RBC, the human race will fall into a deep depression due to a lack of confidence.

The point I’m trying to make is that I’m scared beyond belief that our human goal is no longer to be happy, healthy and wise, but to become info-driven droids, upgrading our gadgets year after year in order to obtain some kind of simulated bliss. While in Japan, I’d watch everyone on a bus soaked into their cell phones. On the New York Subway, the same, while listening to their IPODs. What makes me so afraid, I guess, is that I am one of them too.

But maybe everything I’m worried about isn’t a big deal. I remember seeing pictures and documentaries of businessmen in the 1920’s, all dressed in the same black suit, all of them reading the newspaper. I’ve read books stating how long people need to ‘stare into the fire’, like tired hunter-gatherers did millennia ago. Maybe that’s the only thing that changes…our fire.

Here’s hoping it never dies out.

5 comments:

  1. What a great post! I've often had these fears as well. What really is our goal and where will it ultimately lead? I like to have faith that our basic needs for happiness, health, and wisdom, will drown out the "technology" end of how we think we're getting there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm reading Ray Kurzweil "The Singularity is Near" right now. If you haven't read it, you should definitely check it out. His view is that as man and machine ultimately merge, we don't stagnate but are able to accomplish even more. Whether we choose to do so or not is another another question.

    I admit to being technology enhanced as I have my iPhone permanently attached to my belt and continually looking up something on Google or other sites. But it allows me to be more productive, to get more done faster.

    Here's the best part. Once everything is done, I have more time to do what I want, like watch a movie, or read, or giggle at Anthony's posts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the rec, Douglas. I'll check it out.

    and Lady Glamis, I definitely share the same hope.

    I keep remembering when I was a teenager, and how I had to search so much more to get the answer to something, and it was usually in that long, meandering search that I found something so much more useful. It's kind of like getting lost and discovering something you never thought you'd find.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Once, when I was young and stupid, I thought technology was the devil.

    But then, I thought of how a poor scribe in the 15th Century might have trembled and held his role of papyrus close to his chest as he lamented the onset of the invasive and impersonal technology that would become book distribution.

    Now that I've realized books are indeed technology, I understand that only text messaging, cars, vending machines, high fructose corn syrup, The Facebook, credit cards, debit cards, plastic toys, Furbies, and ugly buildings are the only devils. Oh, and drive thrus. And chihuahua cross-breeding.

    You's gosta take this thing on a case-by-case basis, people.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post. I loved the comment about becoming info driven droids. Also, I liked the following description:

    The Genius Chip works by putting on the two paper thin black gloves and putting your hands together. Next, you tap your fingers together “Like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. Yeees. Excellent.” As your fingers make contact with each other, search pages shoot from the tips into your brain, through electric plosives.

    Somehow I could picture this. I'm right there. This is a world I could spend some time exploring.

    ReplyDelete

Join the conversation, add insight, or disagree with us! We welcome your thoughts.