Saturday, October 30, 2010

Man is Man

Man designs it and it emasculates him. Colossus is a computer conceived from the mind of Dr. Charles Forbin starts out to be a great technological marvel shortly becomes a nightmare for its creator and the world, presenting him with the daunting task of trying to render it harmless. New technological knowledge is the aspiration of all scientists and future generations, but when technology exposes the imperfections of mankind and becomes earth’s dominant species we will have the misfortune of becoming its slaves. Artificial intelligence is the next step in man’s evolution this we can be sure of. We have become excessively dependent on technology and all its perks leaving us vulnerable to this type of scenario. In Vernon Vinge’s essay on Singularity he writes about the acceleration of technological progress, the notion that superhuman intelligence is within reach and developed computers are “awake”. Both the essay and movie provide us with a gender, social and political quagmire. What is Colossus? Is it just an emotionless machine with super intelligence that comes into existence and takes control of the world? Or is it a look into our future? Each of these tales allows us to visit the possibility of the annihilation of human superiority with a dose of technological mastery.
We are mediated through a maze of propaganda, jealously, murder, sabotage, dominance and possession all traits of humanity. Technology rules without emotion, right? Colossus takes a hierarchal position and basically bastardizes the world. It quickly emerges superior to the Soviet’s computer Guardian and soon immerses it. It boasts of having been begun by a man’s mind, but has progress beyond it. Ultimately, it develops a voice literally and figuratively and demand complete attention, devotion and love. Colossus masks voyeurism under the act of surveillance. Sounds emotional, illogical and egoistical to me. Colossus symbolically castrates the President and renders him politically insignificant. Man has always been his own worst enemy and his need to control and dominate the world manifests itself in a myriad of ways, the military is one. Vinge writes, “Even if the governments of the world were to understand the “threat” and be in deadly fear of it”. To paraphrase Vinge, technology can save us and it can destroy us. Vinge’s complex look at technology offers us a glimpse at a post-human era and the consequences of blind allegiance. Today, we are un-manned by technology, when was the last time you had a “real” human answer a call without responding to couple of prompts first? Perhaps, we have gotten so use to having technology gifts we are blind to how it has crippled us. Man is man and he is arrogant and his need for exploration may be the tool that enslaves him. Colossus deactivates mankind and calls it Utopia, Vinge argues superhuman intelligence is within reach, I think the fight for power is over we just don’t know it.

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