Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Robocultic Marriage of Eugenic-Eliminationism and Digi-Dematerialism

Another teaching day, and so an exchange posted from the Moot will suffice for today's contribution. Longtime Friend-of-Blog "BizarroFreedom" observed:
I feel more and more that transhumanism wrecks genuine research into human health and life span because of their insistance on immortality and a variety of other body hating schemes but then again that is why i read this blog so i can see you expose them for the cult they are.
I think you make a good point -- people may lose the capacity to assess the costs, risks, benefits of legitimate medical research and qualified results intelligently when all of this gets hyperbolized through techno-transcendental marketing/TrueBeliever narratives of sooper-capacitation, immortalization, hyper-individualization, etc. Mostly, I tend to think this stuff lends itself to gross scams and frauds that reward privileged upward failures and sociopathic CEOs at the expense of the vulnerable. 

Lately though -- maybe because I am re-reading Frank Pasquale and David Golumbia in preparation for an upcoming course -- I find myself wondering more and more about how the fetish for quantification in the epoch of ubiquitous but secretive algorithmic mediation may be even more dangerous than the cyborg ruggedization fantasies of transhumanoid gun-nuttery, encryption-fanaticism, sooper-humanization, and techno-immortality I usually go on about here (though uploading discourse is a key hinge connecting these branches of techno-unhingement): the idea that well-being, longevity, social order, the mysteries of the universe are all matters of cranking the calliope and running the numbers.

A whole lot of rather insensitive dullards are being celebrated as geniuses at the moment (especially the ones rolling in dough) who seem to believe every person and even the whole universe is, at its heartless heart, an algorithm -- which is, in my view, at best to say the least, an only very occasionally and very incidentally useful but all in all flabbergastingly inapt and inept metaphor.

The robocultic sects were indeed early adopters of this fatal metaphor -- what Lanier warned people about as the ideology of "cybernetic totalism" and what Hayles explicated in her readings of formative documents of information science -- with their Bayesian envangelism and information-theoretic death and crypto-anarchic fever dreams in the heady days of fin-de-siecle irrational exuberance before the dot.bomb, the illegal lying war, the crash, and the GOP embrace of its authoritarian tendency delivered us into the maw of The Future.

That robocultic discourses are a white-hot collision point for techno-utopian/dystopian eugenic-eliminationism AND digi-dematerialism makes them, as always, a fascinating and symptomatic iceberg tip of the suicidal-genocidal extractive-industrial-consumer-financial corporate-militarist monster of neoliberal/neoconservative planetarity. But, as always, if you really want to see where the action is, it is better still to read the white papers and watch the conference talks of dot-eyed corporate-militarists from the think tanks or watch the desperate peddlars of cremes and chrome on late-nite infomercials... there you find the throbbing catastrophic death-dealing life robocultic futurologal rhetoric condenses and clarifies and reduces to absurdity.

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