Technology is advancing rapidly, in the last 40 years a computer the size of a room has been surpassed by smart phones and hand held devices. Artificial hearts have been created to extend life, artificial limbs allow amputees to walk again and even athletic augmentation through pharmaceuticals are used to push the limits of the human abilities. This quickening pace of technology is explained by the mathematical theory called ‘Moore’s Law‘, which states that technological advancements will double every 12- 18 months, and according to Ray Kurzweil by 2045 we will reach what is called “The Singularity.” This is the point in time when artificial AI might surpass human intelligence. These future technological advancements might allow human kind to live longer and avoid ‘the hardships of nature,’ allowing us to stay young, become smarter and according to ‘The 2045 Initiative“, achieve the ultimate enlightened state called ‘neo-humanity.’(2045 video). Who controls this technology and owns it? Who gets to have this technology and who gets left behind?
We have reason for great concern when billionaires and technocrats are at the forefront of these advancements, This control will continue to further the binary division between the classes by continuously enclosing technology on human kind and alienating nature.
The 2045 Initiative
The promotional video depicts human civilization as an unyielding antiquated society fighting a losing battle with nature. According to ‘The 2045 Initiative‘ the goal is to “create a new mankind” and the company’s promotional video cleverly points out that in order to do that “we need technical revolution” and “the deepest social transformation.” The technologies that ‘The 2045 Initiative” state they are working on are as follows: Nano Technology; Bio Technology; Information Technology; Cognitive Technology; Genetics and Robotics yet oddly enough nothing on social structure is mentioned on the web site nor any detail in the promotional video.
’The 2045 Initiative‘ was started by Dmitry Itskov, a 31 year old Russian media mogul who hopes to someday live forever. Itskov claims that by the year 2045 humankind will have evolved through several stages all of which are cybernetic, and in the end we will become so called ‘Neo-Humans’ an assemblage of cybernetic parts connected to a human concessions. Now this end goal may seem far fetched, but the advancement of some of these technologies are quite possible in the next 20 years such as ‘Nano and Bio Technology’ which could rid the world of diseases, increase cognitive ability’s and usher in extended life for humanity. The promotional video shines a negative light on human development and nature as cruel, slow and stagnant, and that we should finally take responsibility for our own evolution through technology. Interestingly this anti-nature aspect is also seen in Adley Huxley’s book ‘brave new world‘ were a technocratic society trains it’s citizens in ‘nature nausea’ in order to disconnect the natural world with humanity, reinforcing the rational technocratic way of thinking.
The Technological Enclosure
The last time the world underwent a large technological change was during the industrial revolution. At that time the captains of industry were helped along by technocrats like Frederick Taylor, whose methods provided the ground work for deskilling multi-skilled farm workers in order to create a task orientated efficient system of labour, through his ‘scientific method.’ It was proclaimed that these revolutions in technological industrialization would give people prosperity and leisure, and that the benefits of these things would be shared between management and workers.
Theodore Kazcynski commented on this in the uni-bomber manifesto “Oh’ said the technophiles, science is going to X all that! We will conquer famine, eliminate psychological suffering. Make everybody healthy and happy! Yeah, sure. That’s what they said 200 years ago.” (Kazcynski, Manifesto) The industrial revolution did not make life better for everyone and moving people from the commons to the cities removed them from communal life and the diversity of the labour that they owned.
With the enclosure acts in England people were forced off common held land and into the cities and into the labour of industry. “The enclosure movement probably peaked from 1760 to 1832; by the latter date it had essentially completed the destruction of the medieval peasant community.” (Moore, Barrington1966)
The billionaires and technocrats behind the 2045 Initiative could be cast in the same light, as the captains of industry and the technocrats during the industrial revolution. The promise of salvation from nature as seen in the promotional video, freeing us to enjoy an eternal life devoid of negative aspects of humanity is what is being sold, and only the rich can buy in of course. In order to gather further funding Itskov has published an open letter to the world’s richest people, urging them to back the initiative and consider volunteering themselves as potential avatars. “I urge you to take note of the vital importance of funding scientific development in the field of cybernetic immortality and the artificial body,” Itskov writes in the letter, first spotted by PopSci.com. “Such research has the potential to free you, as well as the majority of all people on our planet, from disease, old age and even death.” (Katie Drummond, 2012)
The Enclosure during the industrial revolution was not only taking property from the people, it was forcing them into labour which was not their own. Thus the capitalist could control and manipulate the labour force, commodifing and dehumanizing people like ‘cogs in the machine’ as Max Weber would say: “Once capitalism came about, it was like a machine that you were being pulled into without an alternative option.” (Weber, 2002.) With this new enclosure, the technological, humanity itself will become the machine and the enclosure on our very being will take away not our land but it will take away our autonomy as individuals, “ A further reason why industrial society cannot be reformed in favour of freedom is that modern technology is a unified system in which all parts are dependent on one another. You can’t get rid of the bad parts of technology and retain only the good parts.” (Kazcynski , Manifesto)
These promises of health and prosperity due to technological change are the same promises made by the same people during the industrial revolution. There is no talk about the social ramifications, no talk about the less privileged in the world that can not afford these changes.
The enclosure of our very being by technology is whats being proposed by ‘The 2045 Initiative‘, removing the natural flaws in favour of the technological instrumental rationality. We might very well lose what it is to be human, and elimination of all suffering, pain and anguish would also deprive the world of potential great works of art and music not to mention the disconnect from nature.
There is no discounting we are at the beginning of the next big revolution, but unlike the time of the industrial revolution, we have a learned history of these changes and the negative and positive implications. Fortunately today the internet has allowed us to share ideas, forge political bonds, and become much more aware of the social divides in our society. We need to force the debate about the implications these technologies will have on our society as a whole. It’s quite clear that these new technologies (if they even work) will initially be for the super rich, and even at some point if they are made more available, it is doubtful that the poor of even the first world nations could afford it. This will further the binary divisions between the rich and the poor, leaving the majority of the world either as indentured slaves constantly saving or going into debt to keep up with one and other, or the emergence of two human species, one technologically superior and one naturally inferior. This time however we need to take control of the rudder rather then letting the greater felons guide society.
“The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.” (Anonymous, 1821.)
This time we know who the villains are.
By Mike Roy (TheIndignants.org)
April 8th 2014
- The 2045 Initiative http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01hbkh4hXEk
- Ray Kurzweil: The Coming Singularity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uIzS1uCOcE
- Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek5vse2_Aq0
- Russian Mogul to ‘Forbes’ Billionaires: Limitless Lifespans Can Be Yours http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiedrummond/2012/07/19/dmitry-itskov-avatar/