Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Has Spell-Checker Been Canceled?
Okay, I know, I know, giving it two ells is an "acceptable" alternative spelling, but it makes me shudder. Anyway, this is just to say that the Spring Edition of H+ is out, the glossy futurological front-mag for the Robot Cultists of the World Transhumanist Association. That "H+" is short for "Humanity Plus," in case you didn't know -- and if you think that's an odd sort of thing to admit to imagining yourself to be just because you have joined a techno-utopian Robot Cult, well, that probably just means you're Humanity Minus, anyway, as far as the HumanityPlusTrons are concerned.
Humanity Plus is, of course, what the World Transhumanist Association has decided to rebrand itself as. Think of Amway hoping that changing its name to "Quixstar" makes it not Amway anymore. Think of Blackwater hoping that changing its name to "Xe" makes it not Blackwater anymore. I must say, one almost has to feel a certain wry fondness for the rather clumsy awkwardness of an effort at PR refurbishment in which cultists take their stab at mainstream respectability by explicitly declaring themselves better than everybody else.
To the question posed by the magazine's cover, a question that testifies to anxieties among the Robot Cultists along the lines I was uncharitably emphasizing yesterday, the answer is, of course, that "The Future" has always been canceled. "The Future" is always a non-starter in what seems to me the very particular and problematic sense promoted by its various PR flacks and "visionaries." "The Future" is, not to put too fine a point on it, a fraud sold to rubes involving hyperbolic mischaracterizations of and opportunistic credit-taking for the actual work of collaborative pragmatic problem-solving and democratizing social struggle and diverse exhibitions of consensual creativity -- and by those who often have less to contribute to these marvelous processes than they have the willingness to skim the benefits and credit for them so long as they are allowed to get away with it.
By the way, it is to be regretted that people I respect like Jamais Cascio and people I rather get a kick out of like R.U. Sirius are involved in this project, but their involvement neither diminishes my appreciation of them in any substantial measure nor does it enhance my appreciation at all of the superlatively silly company they are keeping.