The Vine

Friday, October 07, 2016

This Halloween's Haunted House Will Be In a Car

It is Hallowmonth and death is on my mind. How will you die, and when? My closest friends know that I am very afraid of death by motor vehicle, (not just for myself, but whenever my loved ones are out and about by car I am worried sick for them) and after 3 close calls today, as a pedestrian, and after witnessing multiple wrecks on I35 returning from Utopia, I am bewildered at why nobody is as afraid of car death as I am. Everyone thinks I am crazy, and that I need to see a psychiatrist (which I am totally okay with) but nobody seems to think it is crazy to accept a 1 in 113 chance that as a citizen of the USA, you are going to die in a car wreck. This might seem like good enough odds, but it dwarfs all other non-disease or old age causes of death, (most of which are lifestyle deaths of choice which I must accept and respect) and car death is about 3 times more likely than getting killed by guns, and death by terrorists? snakes? spiders?...are not even statistically graphable, so I will say in my defense, I am not crazy, I am just good at math.

At Hooping Happy Hour today, I insinuated myself into a conversation among some apparently well-to-do millenial architects. They were talking about how humans fear machines, and other forms of technology that have liberated us from grueling forms of labor...washing clothes vs washing machines was our example. 

I asked them if they had seen any of the performances at The VORTEX, and they had, but they had not seen R.U.R. which I had seen produced there by Summer Youth Theater. This 1921 script by Carel Capek introduced the concept of "the robot" to the world even before science fiction was imagined. Anyway, in the play it is no sooner than robots are created that humans see their creation as a threat. So i extended the analogy, it would seem that we as humans have this godlike ability to create, but like god we create in our own image. If we fear our own creations, (as we do in R.U.R. and so many other future fictions) we are really fearing and distrusting our own selves, reflected to ourselves in our progeny the robot/machine. 

Back to the washing machine, which the other fellow in the conversation posited as the straw man for our the time it was invented people were afraid that every technological invention was going to rob them of their livelihoods. Which it did, so sorry to you Ayn Rand apologists. 

What I suggested to these folks, and they all seemed to take the question in to heart, WHAT IF the early science fiction writers had it right all along? And the Luddites? Maybe they feared the wrong thing but the fear was justified. They had no way of knowing that these machines would not only rob them of their livelihoods but also would collectively make the planet Earth uninhabitable for humans, mammals of all kinds. They just knew that these robots, and technologies beyond our moral capacities to govern had the potential to bring ruin. And a few of us would have to realize this and would have to think our way out of the seduction of comfort and complacency and chart our way back into the sweet/harsh reality of ReGreening planet Earth. 


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