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


  1. That post really made me giggle. It was also quite thought-provoking.

    Look, I've gotta come kleen(ex), the internet would be a much duller place without decent porn. I mean, porn really set the Video Cassette Recorder World on fire didn't it?

    What all this started off about was child porn, the abuse of minors. It has now been adapted into 'porn', which covers a whole host of categories, not least, actors or exhibitionists having sex on camera.

    Child porn exists because people watch it. It's cruel, it's disgusting, it's vile and I'd like a list of everyone that has searched it or watched it and then I can castrate them, make them eat their own testicles, and behead them. Then nobody would watch it, so there would be no market. I see this as a very simple idea. When most of the BBC inner circle of offenders were operating, there was no internet. Neither was there, or is presently, a reasonable deterrent. Watch or participate in it, eat your bollocks, lose your head. Easy.

    My first computer was a Spectrum, and I've used the internet and bulletin board services since I was 12 (ish) on dial-up. I have never seen a child porn image, and you know why? Because I've never searched for one.

    This common sense reasoning says a lot to people that possess a brain capable of independent thought.

    Men like boobs and watching shagging on a telly, move along.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. You may be missing the point. As a bloke I am not allowed an opinion on any of these matters so all I can do is take the piss. Please find something to laugh about or else we're doomed as a species!

    3. Gah! I stupidly deleted my post to try and edit it. But anyway, it was actually a reply to the previous comment. I enjoyed the article, especially, "I realise that we have whole sink estate populations whose combined identities could be uploaded into a Sinclair ZX Spectrum." :)

    4. It's not just about child pornography, though. What about children watching adult porn?

      The truth is, there is no way of stopping children having easy access to porn unless there is a wholesale rejection of pornography in our culture - and I can't see that happening any time soon.

  2. But who would maintain the computers - quid custodiet ipsos custodes?