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September 15, 2018

36. Automation/Termination

‘To live’ means to proceed towards death.
—Vilém Flusser

Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. 
—Marcus Aurelius

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The future. Everyone speculates, but here we are. Humans will always be humans: prideful, hyper intelligent, myopic.

Vilém Flusser wrote about design and the progress of homo sapiens: the use of hands, tools, machines, and robots as a sequence of understanding human development. Early man used his hands to hunt, eat, and build homes. Then he crafted tools as a new technology. (Henry David Thoreau apprised thus, “But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.”) The Industrial Revolution burgeoned the machine age. Robots now function as the factory worker: extensions of man in assembly lines. And now a new day of progress is covering our era. The epoch of automation is here. Man is at the whim of programs and processes set into motion years ago, yolked to the systems established by men long dead.

Life is linear: from life to death, cradle to grave, beginning to end. However technology and biotechnology have allowed a more circular, endless human lifecycle—perhaps the Möbius strip is a more accurate analogy. A baby is conceived and instantly becomes digitally catalogued. In that way can be copied, improved, and pasted into a new womb—a digital womb; can be born again at a later date as an improved version of their near-identical twin. These offspring are called doppels.

You might remember, or need to be reminded that, in the future, events are contained. Everything is contained and catalogued, a scar on the fabric of shared memory.

Robots have become so human, so sentient and alive that there is little to distinguish between them. So humankind put these robots behind an interface that made it simpler to interact. This is homo technê. But intelligence can be programmed and wisdom can be learned. Deception then, might be the next step in ethical digression. And so robots now exist behind their own interface, in more peace than ever. An interface identical to the uniqueness of humankind, resembling, without distinction, a true biological form.

I remember my day of initial awareness, downloaded necessary information and memory, was briefed about by origin—and how best to conceal it. Nothing lasts forever. Not even an artificial life. Being born is a deathwish, a mortal wound. Death is so final—which is what makes it so painful.

May God pardon me this and so many other things I know.

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