The Computer has contributed to the extreme social stratification of the society we live in now. Stratification that has occurred in a number of ways.
The most obvious, of course, is economic stratification – the top one percent have done very well. This is closely linked to the power structures in society – especially in Business and Government – which have merged to become Globalization. The few at the top of these structures – mainly the Transnational Corporations – have become extremely rich and powerful.
This was made possible by the Networks that now control us – the Television and then the Internet and Wireless Networks. Which have one overriding objective – to eliminate the people in them. By making them stupid. And they have succeeded in this admirably.
And people involved have never noticed.
Perhaps someday historians will poke around in the ruins of our culture – trying to figure out what happened – especially in the last half of the 20th Century – when the wheels really came off the wagon.
They will have no lack of material to work with – in fact, the problem will be far too much material, in the form of digital records. Conveniently stored for them in The Cloud – if the coming economic collapse has not eliminated it by then.
Classical culture was reconstructed by the Renaissance in a frantic search for ancient manuscripts – which had mostly disappeared – or had been only saved (in Arabic) by Islamic scholars. The burning of the Library of Alexandria had destroyed many manuscripts much earlier – which could never be recovered.
Digital technology has made it possible (and indeed necessary) for many copies of everything to exist – scattered around in different locations – the redundancy is necessary to make it reliable. This is what The Cloud amounts to – which is actually many clouds – each trying to grab as much information as possible – because information in the Information Age is Power.
This is referred to as Big Data – the latest Idol that we worship.
One would logically expect that this new intelligence would make people more intelligent. But, unfortunately, it does not work that way. The Computer sucks the intelligence out of people – and uses it for its own.
The Computer – I must remind you – consists of Hardware, Software, and the Internet and Wireless networks – a quadruple whammy! As the Computer gets smarter – people get dumber. The reasons for this must be complicated – but the end result is clear enough – and is visible all around us – for anyone who wants to see it.
Now I must switch into a book review. The book is Memes in Digital Culture - which I just got. It is part of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series. You can read a summary of the book easily enough by clicking on the Amazon link I just gave you.
The author, who lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, gives us an excellent example of Computer Idiocy at work. Computer Idiots – which are common – are superficial beings – flocking instantly to whatever everyone else is interested in.
They have no interest in the technology underlying these latest marvels – such as YouTube. They just know it is wonderful – and they have to have it – and, as she says – build on it and make it their own. This is what a Meme amounts to – and to her credit she uses the concept, and builds on it – with, however, severe limitations to make it more palatable to her readers. Who want to continue to believe they have a free will - and can exist as independent beings – which is impossible.
And I want to make one more point – the intelligence going into Software Development is astonishing! These people – who are a very small percentage of the population – are doing amazing things. And being well-paid to do it – because they have a critical skill. This is social stratification of another sort – but it is hidden in the storm clouds of the vast social destruction that is going on.
Which everyone is vaguely aware of – but cannot get a grip on.