Computers Have Taken the Place of People
This is clearly impossible: computers are not animate, and can do nothing on their own. To be accurate, we must say we have given computers our power and made them rule over us. And even this is not true: a new force has arisen composed of people and their computers, which has acquired an independent and all-powerful identity of its own.
This happened because people have always wanted to be something greater than themselves (the religious impulse). Something that is clearly impossible. But that impossibility has happened, and happened completely.
We are now everything and nothing at the same time. A complete success and a total failure. A total failure at being ourselves, but a total success at being something else: computers.
A short definition is in order here. When I refer to computers, I mean the total package of computer hardware, software, and the Internet (the CSI). And beyond that, the merged identity of us and it. We have become it, and it has become us.
This is possible because the CSI is capable of manipulating the environment directly – and being controlled directly. It is a network of information-processing robots that do exactly as instructed by its software – even when these parts are widely separated. Nothing like this has ever existed before. A new universe completely at our command! But a universe that runs by its own rules, not ours.
The most important part of the CSI is the Internet. Immediately, when it was invented, we knew we were on to something big.
Immediately the world of business took it over and made it it’s own. The importance of this cannot be exaggerated. It meant a complete return to the rule of the rich and the powerful (since they now had the ability to control everything), and a complete retreat from the rule of the people, who were now powerless. How did this enormous power switch happen?
It happened because of an explosion of technologies, each more powerful than the last. Of course technologies did not happen on their own. They happened because people became obsessed with making more and more of them, each one building on the last. This in itself was not critical – what was critical was its effect on people: they started focusing more and more on their technologies and less and less on themselves.
A more astonishing change cannot be imagined. The net result was that people existed less and less and their technologies existed more and more. They became more and more real, while we became less and less real. Eventually we became nothing but an illusion having no power at all.
This could not have happened when our technologies were only machines, such as a steam engine. We were quite capable of organizing our live to suit them (to suit the automobile, for example), but they didn’t have much intelligence on their own. When intelligent machines (the CSI) appeared, we immediately started making them even more intelligent – and insisted that they control us. We, in our new incarnation, wanted to become as powerful as possible. We never noticed that the human part of this new thing had been reduced to nearly nothing.
Still, we had our illusion that we were real, and to us that was real enough. If all power was elsewhere, it didn’t matter.