I am on a futuristic kick.
Courtesy of Jim Russell of the Pacific Standard, I was able to check out a piece by Andrew McAfee which led me to a book published last year. It’s The Second Machine Age; Work, Progress, And Prosperity In A Time Of Brilliant Technologies. McAfee, and his MIT colleague Erik Brynjolfsson, take us where so many others have gone before; to the future. However, as I read the text, it proves to be an interesting, well-written, and carefully researched work.
As the above clip (via Youtube) from Woody Allen’s 1973 sci-fi comedy Sleeper shows, visions of a future where robots can go beyond making things to doing tasks normally considered to be the domain of humans (in this case one telling the other to “drop dead”) have been around for some time. However, as McAfee and Brynjolfsson show, some of that future is now. They went to Silicon Valley and rode in one of those self-driving cars by Google, show how fast the digital revolution occurred that turned the music industry, and even how he take photographs, upside down. They also cite data that I’ve seen in other pieces, rising concentrations of wealth from increased productivity among the few, the risk of many jobs being eliminated, or wages slashed, due to technology, and also the vast opportunities for a better life these innovations can create for us.
However, as I read all this I did go back to some scenes from this classic film and discovered a far more frightening look at the future than Blade Runner and the Terminator ever conjured up.
As the poet Luna (Diane Keaton) shows, having everything you want (thanks to amazing technology) can on some levels be just as hazardous as acid rain and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am about to start Chapter 10; The Biggest Winners; Stars and Superstars and still have to process what I’ve read already. Now, back to reading the book.