Are we witnessing a psychotic break? Or, has someone with physical features strikingly similar to his own spotted an opportunity, and seized it?
In our modern era, we like to congratulate ourselves for our sophistication, knowing that we have doubtless created a world that our feckless ancestors could never have imagined. Actually reading the works of those ancestors would disabuse us of any such notion, and E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops is a case in point. Not only does it seem that Forster has contemplated the ubiquitous ‘Zoom’ call, but he correctly sensed the deadening of the soul that would accompany the faux-mastery of Nature, expressing itself through technology.
In The Machine Stops the height of mankind’s advances was The Machine, and it cared for every aspect of human experience, and anticipated every human need, until such time that there was nothing left for humans to do except eat, and, if the algorithm approved, procreate; and when the algorithm decided Euthanasia was due, then Euthanasia was happily accepted. The Machine was not just the pinnacle of human ingenuity, it was Progress Incarnate. And then… the Machine Stopped. Today, we hail our own progress, technological and societal. If our machine stops, what then? Do we really suppose it is eternal?
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