Do Androids Dream of Wall Mounted Art?
Having questions about whether becoming “transhuman” will feel great or kind of, like, weird? Whether the promise of living forever and morphing into a god is something new when it’s presented by science as opposed to superstition?
If so, this new art show probably won’t be of any help to you. It assumes that ushering in a post-human intelligence (The Singularity) will absolutely be super awesome for everyone.
You can understand how an immortality cult of rich, powerful nerds has a need to equate science and art in order to make the idea of evolving into a machine feel less apocalyptic. But I fear they’re gonna have to do better than this.
For example, I give Google credit for their Droid commercials, especially the one of the miners who discover a floating chunk of ore that converts humans into machines – it’s bold and dark and, aside from the presumption that we’ll be given a choice about the conversion, doesn’t sugar coat the horror that would no doubt accompany the process. You’ve probably seen it:
I recommend repeated viewings. Pay attention to the storyline here: Open on what looks like earth, at a futuristic strip mine. A group of folks who cannot breathe the atmosphere enter a sci-fi gate, plunge deep into the earth, pass an empty helmet (it isn’t like theirs – it looks like that of a current-day military pilot), and finally enter the chamber where the levitating mystery ore somehow leads one brave guy to take off his space suit’s sleeve and insert his bare arm into the thing. His arm immediately turns into a machine (with a Verizon-powered Droid phone on the end, naturally).
The best thing about the spot is that it’s fucking cool. The tangible sense of menace in the story raises more questions than it answers.
An earlier spot is simpler, and doesn’t include choice – in the reflection of a closeup of an eyeball, we see someone is simply browsing online and in the process is converted into a machine:
In contrast, here is the propaganda of the Singularitarian cult in its rawest form:
There are no questions here, just answers. It reeks of desperation and fear – fear that no one else on the planet believes their immortalist vision and, therefore, their own day of Transformation will never come.
Relax, guys. Assuming the Machine Intelligence will take cognizance of us at all when it emerges, I’m sure it can resurrect us from the dead along with all of our relatives who have ever passed on. Take a lesson from your religious cousins – have a little faith. If nothing else, it’s more becoming.
Ironically, Google’s approach will probably sweeten people up to the notion of surrendering to the Singularity more than the pure propaganda approach will. It seems that the Google hive mind understands irony better than the wanna-be transhumans. Which is truly, epically, cosmically fucking ironic.