At the end of 19th c.-beginning 20th c. and in the spree of the unprecedented technological achievements of their time, some graphic designers used their fantasy to attribute the future world as it would look like in 100 years from their time. Their drawings somehow attract sympathy for their diligent effort. Some of these pictures proved visionary (like those that depicted distance communications with image and sound, like nowadays video-conference, airborne mail delivery with drone-like flying machines -although there was an operator riding on! etc), and generally depicted technological developments that have been accomplished so far, more or less. It is understandable that the designing style looks naïve today, as there was no designing software available at the time, neither did they master contemporary aesthetics. But generally, the idea of the sketches was to magnify the technological achievements of the time to the maximum and project them to the future.
The main idea, nevertheless, was that the Machine, as a concept, would be intensely present to every stage of everyday life in the future, with the form of gadgets, automations, strange vehicles etc, that was generally proved correct. What they could not imagine however, predict and consequently depict was that the Machine would not only become a basic element of our life but would penetrate into our consciousness! What we mean is this:
We could definitely consider personal consciousness as a machine that transforms outer -and inner- stimuli into impressions, memories, ideas, sentiments, sounds, shapes, colours… a necessary prerequisite would be that the personal consciousness possesses the self-sense of its subjectivity at some point, that would set it independent from its environment (we do not claim that it possesses this self-sense from the beginning). By combining all these products that the consciousness manufactures, it develops intelligence, it learns and as a living system tries to reproduce. Therefore, apart from the biological reproduction, personal consciousness creates, through the art of Mechanics, its likes: machines that process and transform energy, matter and information. The latter, particularly, develop faster and easier and to such a degree that out-perform the initial mother-Machine/Consciousness, concerning, at least, practical matters. Therefore these machines can better calculate, can reach more objective decisions, can formulate infinite scenarios of the development of an effect or a process.
At the same time, limitless interconnectivity, allows develop a super-human Machine/Consciousness, namely Internet, that through its “neurons” handles and transforms huge amounts of data, forwards images, creates ideas, determines attitudes. This super-Machine/Consciousness is based on Technology and its features: just like Technology achieved distributed computation capacity through networks, it is characterized by decentralization of its system, with continuous creation of new hubs for stocking, forwarding and generating data and ideas (it is a different issue whether it can be controllable centrally!). And what is more important, Technology that makes extensive use of the Probability theory, does not anticipate the outcome of an effect/process with the bipolar approach of black-white, good-evil, success-failure, but offers more alternatives and minimizes the rate of negative scenarios for a specific project. This is particularly important because it affects our consciousness, both personal and collective. Practically this means that we are not confined in dilemmas and face our life with positive mood. Obviously, this positive development of the consciousness has not prevailed yet but at least, its signs are visible (eg medicine).
On the other hand, all this unbelievably huge offer (and demand) of information decreases the quality of the transferred information, increasing this way, the entropy of this global interconnected system. Let us not forget that most of the posts, and news, are quite commonplace, if not copy-paste products, and consequently of low information value. A direct consequence is that the human language, through which all this information is rendered, wears out slowly. It possibly develops into a meta-language that, in essence, is a psychological interface between humans and this super-Consciousness namely Internet. And when the language loses its value, then the institutions based on language (communication, politics, science etc) lose their value too and along with them, the individual consciousness, that is basically expresses itself through language, retreats. This way, and the more we connect with it –and finally depend on it, this super-Machine/Consciousness is enforced and the capacity of our individual consciousness is reduced. With a metaphysical, so to speak, way, the super-Machine/Consciousness expands continuously receiving energy through posts, clicks, likes, forwards, fora, trends, memes. A powerfully structured bubble vs a weak and dismantled reality.
All these features constitute a new world, that seems to hugely differ from the world envisioned by those amiable graphics designers +100 years ago. However, some questions arise (actually many questions arise!):
Does this super-Machine have the power to affect global developments? Should we be afraid of it? Has it finally create a new reality or a parallel reality? consequently, which are the forces that move History? How does this Machine alter traditional political systems? Is Time a real or artificial parameter of our life? To mention but a few. Obviously, the answers cannot be given within a few lines. But let us simply keep the main characteristics of what was mentioned above as the super-Machine: it is a technological super-Consciousness and as such, it is able to generate and handle many alternative scenarios concerning the development of an effect/process/project and also, it substitutes the individual consciousness slowly. A strange combination, a new challenge that we are summoned to face.
In the frame of the above scattered thoughts and under the shade of a big war that is under way in Ukraine -for the moment!- let us deposit our comment, faithful to the super-Machine we mentioned:
“Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very streets today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
I tell you love, sister
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away…”
“Gimme shelter” 1969