Just One More Instrument To Oppress Each Other With

If computers become our rulers, they will nevertheless be in the hands of the
powerful. If they seem to replace us then at last Rousseau's paranoid fantasy,
that we were born free but somehow put in chains by someone  other than
ourselves,  will turn out to (seem to be) true. But in fact nothing would have
changed. There is no-one else there. Computers are us, we are computers, just
as Rousseau's exploiters weren't anyone else, it was ourselves all along.

Computers or not, if we allow the powerful among us to decide over us without
regard to our own will, then we will be taking a step backwards.

My friend told me there's a book, there are several, there are films too,  
describing the future in terms of there being no use for humans any more and
that humanity or that which is specifically human in us  is seen as being in the
way of what is now regarded as paramount - information, data.  Data that seems
to have an autonomous life. Computers, robots  and the sheer volume of data
they can hold dwarfs anything humans can rival. The status of humans goes
down, anything purely human  doesn't give a good outcome. An example in the
book apparently, was the Google Earth car, (the Google machine is one of the
biggest algorithms?, no single person understands it, a huge team of people look
after it guarding it like a beast at the centre of the labyrinth) the Street Google
car going along, an automatic car, someone steps in front of it and it stops, it
doesnt run them over. The car behind, driven by a human, crashes into it (and
shunts it into the pedestrian) because  the human being..., well the example said
he was admiring the sunset but in fact he was more likely texting. The conclusion
is that the human aspect is the gremlin in the works. The person is killed, an
example of how humans would be better replaced by machines. One might
though say that by preventing the one car crash, you turn the whole of society
into a car crash in which instead of the one run over pedestrian, both her, her
children and her children's children are doomed to servitude or even, apparently,

We've been worrying about this for years, and now as research into Artificial
Intelligence is progressing so well, people are worried about the future.  People
are getting ready to accept their fate and believe in this as an inevitable process.
The answer that it ISNT better and therefore loses all its justification is a simple
one, too simple for people.  People see a computer controlled future containing
the  destruction and the end of humanity, and yet think its inevitable because its
better. A bit of a contradiction.
You could eradicate all car crashes by stopping us driving and  make us drive in
robot cars , saving 400 lives a year. You could end starvation by organising the
food supply system. People think so because they presume that computers will
have a better political will, a default position on politics that is better than the one
we have. Similar to how pro EU believers, who accept the abolition of
democracy, presume life is better under an unelected dictatorship, putting their
faith in an imagined default position of that unelected dictatorship that they fancy,
with no justification, to be better than what we provide ourselves by democracy.
It is essentially a longing for paternalistic government, a longing for a big daddy
who will make our decisions for us, a longing for totalitarianism. Better, cleaner
and tidier, and less plagued by “human” failings than democracy. So they believe.
It is an extension of the Rousseauan fallacy in a sort of reverse, where the
OTHER is benevolent instead of malevolent. Infantile whichever way round it
is. The truth is that it is US.  We are both. But the system is different, it is the
system of government and other powers that we arrange for ourselves, that
determines what aspect of human nature gets the upper hand.
People anticipate not being able to justify anything human at all. We are simply
worse than computers. In other words they chose to believe that computers or
robots will embody all thats good and that humans will be left embodying all that
is bad. We will have invented a big daddy, a paternalistic governor, or master
race, to live over us and rule us, and, some say, even to replace us. This is
misanthropy writ large, but it is nothing new.

Religions have often contained large doses of self hate, and sought to condemn
large parts of human nature as sinfulness and godlessness. The current great
surge in secular ideological puritanism is another version of that tendency, that
seeks to condemn and ban aspects of human nature and communication.
Puritans are normally autocrats, and autocracy is on the rise. The young
bourgeoisie positively wallow in it.

Misanthropy is actually rather popular. The left, which used to be founded on a
postive outlook upon humanity, now has been redesigned by the bourgeoisie and
includes a heavy dose of misanthropy to justify its political about-face to a stance
that is more or less hostile to the poor.

Middle class disdain for humankind is a curious component of a left wing outlook
but it goes well with a desire to eradicate democracy and to exclude the ignorant
(sic) masses from decision making (the EU). They declare them unfit to vote,
ignorant and bigoted (sic), as if they themselves were not. It is easy to imagine
that this same class will willingly usher in a robot dictatorship and will do so
because they will picture themselves, as now, sitting by default at the top of the
pile, with all things good preserved for them, nothing taken away, and the mob,
the unworthy, kept at bay, rather nicely and very thoroughly by robotic
instruments of power. In other words that it will be a dictatorship in their
interests. One cannot help knowing that this is likely to be true.

This vision of the future can most easily come to pass when, like now, there is a
power inequality between the prosperous and the un-prosperous, who are
treated increasingly as slaves/low paid , migrants, morally and intellectually
unworthy of participation in the democratic process. After a quite brief heyday of
democracy things have swung too far out of their hands and the world, an
integrated international arrangement of the victorious, as it ever was, is
controlled by a combination of the corporate powers and the bourgeoisie who
interests it guarantees (and, where it cant guarantee them, transforms them by
advertising and propaganda). Even elected governments have limited ability or
even inclination to resist  the global control of supply and demand plus the
concentrated ownership of assets and raw materials of the one, and the
vociferous “opinion-forming” of the other.

We are priming ourselves for a non democratic world where decisions will be
made by an imaginary logical necessity, a default position provided for us by
computers and so seeming to represent a perfection of good sense and ...logical
necessity, a dictatorship of information, whose divine right will come from a
fallacy that it is in possession of all the possible facts and all the possible best
interpretations of those facts.  This default position will  be first used to argue
against democratic decisions, then to obviate them altogether. There will simply
be no need, it will be said, for the inexpert input of an electorate. That is in fact
already the premise of the EU government which believes itself  uniquely best
suited to manage the capitalist economy without any intervention of its 450
million citizens, and to find a balance between its needs and limited
accommodations to the middle class will. It is an arrangement the middle classes
of Europe are largely happy with, for now, (why wouldn't they be?) but it is not
democracy. The role now played by the  Deutches Bank will be played by a
multitude of data intensive bodies that know best. In fact though, political
decisions are always being made, but they are not presented as such, and that
will contunue to be the case. The mass of people will believe in the divine right of
data, those in the know will wield power as they have always done, covertly.
We will be going backwards in time to the era in history when it seemed nothing
other than necessary and right that those in authority over us should wield it
absolutely and unquestioned, as they were the best suited for it.  It will be a
mistake that will take us some generations to realise. It is a development that
doesn't need computers, the seeds of it are in our present conditions anyway, in
the anti democratic tendencies of the middle classes and the corporate owner

We will have gone full circle. At some point in the quite near future our children
may be living in a world where very few people believe in democracy, where it
will be thought of as a retrograde and regressive idea, one that represents the
error and confusion of the human mind and the darkness of its heart. In fact, it
will be the triumph of dictatorship that represents that shadow side of the human

copyright Gregory Motton 2018