Jaron Lanier On The Danger Of Letting Computers Do Our Thinking For Us
A key belief of cybernetic totalism is that there’s no difference between experience and information; that is, everything can be reduced to “bits.” When you don’t believe in experience anymore, you become desensitized to the subjective quality of life. And this has a huge impact on ethics, religion, and spirituality, because now the center of everything isn’t human life or God, but the biggest possible computer. You have this cultlike anticipation of computers big enough to house consciousness and thus grant possible immortality.
If American politics is more religious than it has been for a long time, we are not alone. The world of Islam is undergoing a tremendous religiopolitical revival. I’m not sure I understand what’s behind it. I have the sense that the explanations we read in any paper or see on television are not accurate. September 11 caught us all off guard, and we still have not digested it.
The day I met Harry, he was drunk and desperate. We were in a bar with a group of work colleagues, and he was ranting about how a woman had mistreated him. There was something about fumbled sex on a beach, and a long train ride, and a wound to the heart. His tone was dramatic, misogynistic, and self-pitying. I thought he was the most obnoxious man I had ever met.
I was riding in the back seat of my Aunt Belle’s Cadillac when my cousin Joanie whispered, “You want some gum?” then leaned over to me and stuck her tongue in my mouth. When she sat back, smiling, I found that she’d left her gum behind. It was gnarled and cold and foreign-tasting, I suppose because it was wet with someone else’s saliva.