It is said that when the world is at peace, when things are quiet, is when the ground falls out from one’s feet unknowingly, and he who once thought that he was on stable ground finds himself plummeting into an abyss that ends abruptly, and sometimes to his own demise.
A look around Western society, to the careful observer, speaks to this potential to happen right now. In an age of unparalleled advances, technology, education potential, and commerce, aside from the publicly discussed threats in “left” or “right” wing discourse, is the growing possibility of a major war.
This is something that can be observed by all social classes with eyes to see and a brain that thinks. Some of the very wealthy people in the world, however, are attempting to prepare for as what some have called, a “fourth turning” by using their money to isolate themselves away from the world into enclaves and prepare for a new age of blending themselves with machine to achieve never-before-realized human potential:
Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of “the future of technology.”
I’ve never liked talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR. The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.
After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.
They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.
Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”
The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.
This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.
That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.
There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity. As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans are nothing but information-processing objects.”
It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride. Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel…Zuckerberg? These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy — the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention. Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs. Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures — something to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol. The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.
This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.
So instead of considering the practical ethics of impoverishing and exploiting the many in the name of the few, most academics, journalists, and science-fiction writers instead considered much more abstract and fanciful conundrums: Is it fair for a stock trader to use smart drugs? Should children get implants for foreign languages? Do we want autonomous vehicles to prioritize the lives of pedestrians over those of its passengers? Should the first Mars colonies be run as democracies? Does changing my DNA undermine my identity? Should robots have rights?
Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism. Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon). Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.
But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor. The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor. These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)
Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.
This “out of sight, out of mind” externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality. If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become. This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy — and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle feeds itself.
The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug. No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.
Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor. Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.
Our movies and television shows play out these fantasies for us. Zombie shows depict a post-apocalypse where people are no better than the undead — and seem to know it. Worse, these shows invite viewers to imagine the future as a zero-sum battle between the remaining humans, where one group’s survival is dependent on another one’s demise. Even Westworld — based on a science-fiction novel where robots run amok — ended its second season with the ultimate reveal: Human beings are simpler and more predictable than the artificial intelligences we create. The robots learn that each of us can be reduced to just a few lines of code, and that we’re incapable of making any willful choices. Heck, even the robots in that show want to escape the confines of their bodies and spend their rest of their lives in a computer simulation.
The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.
Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space — as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion. And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars — despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials — the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.
When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.
They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.
Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us. We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways. We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.
Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together. (source)
I don’t really want to talk about the essence of this story itself, which is that the wealthiest people on earth want to play God, kill of most of the human race, and enslave the survivors so they can play God in their own sick little fantasy world. This has been the dream of tyrants throughout history and, while they achieve it more or less to some degree, they are always overthrown because there is a God, God permits evil, and in the fullness of time God will destroy all evil. This is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of darkness and establish the Kingdom of God, first coming with mercy as an innocent babe, and then when He returns as an adult, with the flaming sword of justice and the record of the righteous just as the revelations of St. John describe in detail.
I want to talk about the period between the end and now, and how to get through it.
Most people in this world are poor, which while the definition ranges from country to country, basically means they are on the bottom socially and economically speaking. Poor in America, for example, is a lot better than poor in Guatemala, at least as one is concerned financially.
So how does an American of average or below average means deal with the situation above?
The first reality is to accept that what is described above is probably going to happen in some way.
This does not mean that one should not pray or hope for the best. This does not mean that one should resign oneself to a nihilistic view of the future- “blackpilling”, as some say. What it means is that you, John Q. Public, really can’t do much of anything at all to stop what is happening because you are not in control. It’s the “golden rule”- those who have the gold rule, you don’t have the gold, and even if you did have a lot of gold, you still could not stop the collective will of many of these people, because you would be one man against a mob. You might be able to influence, but not fully stop what is coming.
There is talk in Chicago right now of implementing a universal basic income, and the reason for this is not to help people, but as a test run for an expected trend over the next 20 years, which will be massive unemployment due to AI-based de-industrialization. A lot of people are going to be out of work, and as far as policy is concerned, there needs to be a way to pacify the masses before proceeding to exterminate them.
You have no real power over world events. But as such, neither do you bear the prime moral culpability for what is coming too. Indeed, it would be a terrifying thing to face God at the end of one’s life and try to explain genocide or eugenics.
What you have control over is yourself. Your choices. What you do and what you choose not to do.
You have abilities and limitations, good points and bad points, strengths and weaknesses.
What you need to do is to get your life together- body, finances, mind, soul- and prepare for the future because in the future, there is a distinct possibility of a return to “every man for himself” if a major event should come.
I’m talking about /SIG/, or Self Improvement General. Look it up on 4Chan some time, either under the /pol/ or /fit/ boards. It is popular among the Millenials and more so Generation Z. However, it applies to all peoples at all times since as man is aeviternal, he is not God but possesses unlimited potentiality, and so he can always grow. Man will not stop growing ever, and this is great. It means that young or old, there is always hope, and you can always change for the better.
There are two basic ways that a man can provide for his needs- he can pay somebody to do it for him, or he can do it himself. This equals two respective forms of equity- financial and sweat.
Most people don’t have massive financial equity. However, they do have sweat equity. A man who works hard enough over enough time, while he cannot accomplish everything that a person with money has, can direct his actions to several selected ends in order to, if not reach or nearly reach what the wealthy man has, achieve enough of his objectives to solidify himself so he can survive. His equity comes from his sweat through labor.
For example, two men get on a boat. One is rich and the other is poor. There is only one life jacket, and the rich man has access to it. The poor man, thinking ahead because he has to, fashions a makeshift lifejacket out of plastic jugs and some buoyant material before the boat takes off. The boat has an accident. The poor man grabs his makeshift life preserver and is able to float. The rich man has to go and get the jacket prepared for him. He may be able to get it, and he may not be able to. If he can, he is saved, but if he can’t he dies.
While it is good that the rich man was able to use his money to guarantee himself a lifesaver, he did not know how to make one. The poor man, who was forced to make a makeshift one, did so and survived. This is not to criticize either, or say that one is better than the other, because often times, the ability to have purchased something is better than making it by hand due to the time and labor required. That said, one must say that the poor man was more aware of his surroundings due to his situation, and his ability to survive increased because of this, while the rich man, while having the peace of mind knowing there is a life preserver set aside from him, was able to rest, and while usually this would not be an issue, was naturally less aware of his surroundings.
Situational awareness will stress anybody out over time because it is an active investment into one’s surroundings in addition to the many other things that call a man’s attention. However, for a man of lower means, it is the best tool he has to compensate for that which he lacks financially.
When applied to this case, of the social changes with AI, what this means is that average man has his portion in the form of sweat equity cut out for him. John Q. Public has to ensure a means of providing for himself economically speaking, keeping himself healthy with minimal involvement of doctors, keeping his mind sharp and ready to respond to the changing landscape, and spiritually ready to meet God, because one must always be ready to render an account of one’s life and deeds. In all this he has to make sure he is able to stay out of the entangling arms of interests who would seek to enslave him as much as possible.
It’s a weighty burden set before the modern man. I’m not saying there are things that are easy to do. I don’t take it lightly either. But it is not impossible to do. In fact, if he does not do this, he will find himself consumed by the very society he believes exists to maintain his freedom and security, waking up to the walls of prison build around him while he witnessed its construction and was unaware of what the end would be.
The answers are for the most part simple. However, they require a lot of work and massive sacrifices.
For example, I speak of debt. Most people in the USA are in tremendous amounts of debt, with the average household as of 2017 at over $137K USD. The average American does not have $400 to his name in his account for an emergency because he is so strapped for cash.
The reason why such debt exists is because, primarily, of maintaining a certain lifestyle. American life is wonderful but it is also very expensive, and if American life were to be adjusted to fit actual incomes so that people generally lived within their economic means, there would be a massive reduction in the levels of “prosperity” in the USA. The USA would look more like a second world nation in many parts than a first, and more so than it does today. This would not be a bad thing, but it is something that most people do not want to accept, especially the women.
Would you live in a house with limited heat during the winter, or keep the internal temperature at 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit? Would you live in a house without AC, having just a fan or two to keep you cool in the summer? Would you be content to have parts of your house still under construction, unable to finish it for months or even years because of a lack of finances?
Would your husband or wife accept it? Would it affect your marriage? Would your kids be angry with you?
Yet, would you accept such circumstances if it means paying off debt?
What do you value?
Likewise, consider fitness and exercise. It is said that most jobs are “eight hours a day,” but this is bunk. The average employer demands his workers take a minimum of a half-hour unpaid lunch, increasing time at work to 8.5 hours. An employee also cannot just walk into the office at the start of shift, as the employer expects him there usually 15 minutes early, and since the employee cannot leave until the exact end of the work day for most employers, there is another up to 15 minute overlay after work and walking to one’s car. The average work commute time is 25 minutes, and assuming a half-hour each way to work, this adds another hour, making the total time 10 hours. If the average man needs between six to eight hours of sleep a day, assuming he has to get up, eat, change his clothes, it is very difficult to squeeze in. This likewise affects proper nutrition, and general physical health, let alone time to read, spend with children, or do anything of personal value.
It is known that the society we live in today is not set up at all for the edification of man, but for his reduction to a replaceable gear in a massive machine that does not care if he breaks or is thrown away. This has always been an issue throughout cultures, but with the massive technological changes, the intensity, impact, and ability to reproduce the same consequences faster over a larger area to the same logical conclusion are unparalleled.
The way out is also the same for most, which is a difficult struggle made of personal sacrifice, pain, and enduring that which one’s parents did not have to for many.
The evils of which those who have power and money and who are attempting to become “god” with the use of super technology must be exposed. There is little that one can do to stop them.
But there is much that you, the individual can do for yourself, your family, and those physically closest to you. No prayer goes unanswered, God sees and is over all, and all will be made well in its own perfect time. And while having Faith, persisting in hope, and doing charity, improve yourself. Get out of debt, stop indulging in vices, eat clean food, take care of your physical body, say your prayer, keep your mind in good health with books, and prepare for what is likely going to be a future defined by war and conflict. Find ways to reduce dependency on public utilities, provide for your own needs, learn how to become your own nurse, and learn to endure some of the general pains of daily living that humans endured for centuries and still do in many parts of the world.
Watch and improve on how to manage your most precious resource, which is time, because the time is running short. Martin Sellner of the Austrian identitarian movement boasted earlier in 2018 how in “five to ten years” the entire world would change.
Given the rise of AI, the changing economy, the posturing of European nations for war, and the general chaos that one sees increasing, what would the world look like in five to ten years?
One can only imagine what it will look like.
The future is coming, like it or not, but one does not have to be trapped by the narrative it will bring. By making better, conscious, well-thought out choices, one can live in the present while being solidly anchored in both the past and the future.
The choice is yours.