Thursday, 20 June 2013
Ghosts in the Machine
In search of inspiration after finding the news full, yet again, of child abuse, rape, sexual assault, homosexual assault, kiddie porn, more rape and yet more child abuse, last night I retired to my hotel room and tuned in to Radio Four. On the news, more of the above... then suddenly it’s 8pm and time for The Moral Maze, a usually excellent, in-depth discussion and a weekly treat. Except the discussion was about, yes you guessed it, porn on the Internet. I wondered what their take would be. As expected it is the apocalypse which will destroy our world.
Not wars, not famine, not catastrophic weather events, nor genocide, disease, plagues or pestilence then? The human race, it seems, is determined to destroy itself and if can’t do it by the traditional, bloody massacre method then maybe we can just exploit each other and masturbate ourselves into extinction. Best get in a stockpile of Kleenex. What a depressing species we are, as it is revealed that a third of the resources of the greatest ever boon to human communication is dedicated to the pursuit of Percy Filth.
But just in time, a solution to save the day. According to a Google ‘futurist’ in about 30 years, humans will be able to upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal and in time we may even be able to replace our frail bodies with machinery.
Unless we end up making machines that can make machines to make more machines in their image this might be the solution to world population levels. Let’s fix it and breed no more, living an eternal life as ghosts in the ether.
Trying to imagine the memory size and processing speed of a computer capable of storing an entire human brain, I realise that we have whole sink estate populations whose combined identities could be uploaded into a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. And we could probably get the average politician onto an Amstrad, which means we will be able to rail against the politics, not of soundbites, but of gigabytes.
Striving for equality will be a forgotten ideal as, just as in our current terrestrial life there will be clear winners and losers – and the poorest losers will just be disconnected. Problem solved. Those who can afford it will baggsy the best platforms available and spend billions to snap up super-fast chips with unlimited instantaneous access to the power of the World Wide Web, with treble back up and cloud immortality.
Lower down the scale the new, digitised middle classes will occupy cut-price storage provided by warehousing facilities, backing themselves up on the rent-a-cloud and forever striving to maintain this precarious existence and avoid eviction to a memory stick in a skip until such time as their arrears are settled.
And then, of course, there will be the black market. For a few bucks you could get yourself loaded onto the control chip from an old fridge or toaster. For mobility some crafty hacker with a sense of irony might manage to commandeer a Sinclair C5 and roam the deserted streets looking for a charge. But for the rest, until real bodies become available you’ll compete for the best available avatars; some will be able to afford to become the Aztec warriors of their fantasies while others will end up as badly drawn caricatures of themselves. Or stick men.
The Honourable Member for Thames Ditton
And of course, in this virtual world we won’t need food. We won’t need houses and warmth and clothing; we will find everything we need on the virtual grid. The world will be at our electronic neuron-tips and all the collected wisdom of the ages will be at our command. Humanity ascended to the omnipotence of gods! But, knowing the human race and its drives, we’ll probably just end up surfing porn and wanking ourselves into oblivion