Android Nightmares

Google’s plot to take over mind, body, and soul


| January-February 2011



Eric Utne 2

2009 © Chris Lyons / lindgrensmith.com

Creation of Android 

Have you noticed the latest TV ads for the Droid, a Verizon mobile phone that uses Google’s Android operating system? One features a handsome young man sitting in a business meeting. He pulls out his Droid, flips open the keyboard, and begins typing at increasingly superhuman speed. First his fingers, then his hands, and finally his arms turn into sophisticated circuitry—the bionic man. The sell line comes via a voice-over at the end of the commercial: “Turning you into an instrument of efficiency.”

Another ad for the device shows the iris of the user’s eye transforming into digital circuitry as he merges with his technology.

What’s the message here? I believe it’s that Google, the company whose maxim is “Don’t be evil,” has given itself over to a vision of the future in which human and machine morph into a monstrous hybrid. As Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin recently declared, “We want to make Google the third half of your brain.”

Brin and Larry Page, the visionary entrepreneurs who together founded Google, are unabashed enthusiasts and promoters of what has come to be known as “the Singularity,” a vision of the near future in which human beings and machines merge so that illness, old age, and even death become things of the past.

Computer pioneer Bill Joy sounded the alarm about the Singularity a decade ago, in a Wired article titled “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us.” He argued for voluntary relinquishment of genetic, robotic, and nano technologies, warning that intelligent robots could soon dominate humanity, and that all of nature could be swallowed in an oozing sea of tiny “gray goo” machines.

andrearolltide
10/13/2011 12:30:45 PM

I sure as hell don't want to be connected to a machine nor would I wish to live forever. Life is splendid and one of the reasons why is that its unpredictable, and fleeting. Man won't rest until he has completely undone himself. His satanic need to be GOD! Remember the Tower of Babel.


Billy Obvious
3/15/2011 8:57:02 AM

A little over a hundred years ago, two new machines were developed: the bicycle, and the motor car. Just look at the mess we've made by choosing the wrong one.


Jeffrey Fried
2/21/2011 5:44:49 PM

Because i have ADHD i rely on my Droid/iphone/Palm to help me keep track of tasks and meetings. Because i have a degree of dyslexia that makes reading all the different fonts that can occur in any book impossible, i use a Kindle to ensure that i always get the same font shape and size with minimal reflection so that i can finally read - i recently finished reading a set of full length fiction and non-fiction books that would have been impossible without the Kindle or something equivalent. Because i was born with a number of autoimmune disorders i am kept alive with various techological marvels (that also have some not so fun side effects). I have more items on my list, but i think you get the point. I appreciate that we've taken tens of thousands of years to get where ever "here" is and it clearly must be a delicate balance that maintains not only our bodies but our minds. But the quality of my life is very dependent upon these marvels and i hope that we can learn to add them into our lives safely going forward, or, we shall have to practice euthanasia to kill off people in my position rather than leaving them to slowly suffer.


Shades of Green
2/10/2011 8:44:13 PM

Science-fiction often leads to reality. Are we're at the early stages of becoming "The Borg?" Silicon Valley elites,"hoping that technology will allow people to seize control of the evolutionary process." Really? Many years ago by the then editor of Wired Magazine put forward a thesis that technological advances are far ahead of humanity's maturity to deal with them. I believe his thesis was right.


Brianz
1/11/2011 2:47:36 AM

Let's Facebook it and realize that the Tweety birds and their Googly gook addictions to gadgetry have now advanced illiteracy to places no one has gone before. Hence all our useless ranting is a waste of time and energy reasoning with an addiction and trying to make sense with the addicted.


Ahriman, apparently
1/6/2011 1:31:14 AM

Speaking as someone who fears the Singularity won't happen due to its rather optimistic technological assumptions (yep. FEARS.) I would like to thank the author of this article for such a wonderfully... biased, technophobic, and ignorant attack on the concept. First of all, demonizing transhumanists (those who feel humanity can self-create, self-augment via technology, coming from transitional humanity, the idea that we can move beyond our current limitations) as the Zoroastrian AntiGod? Classy. Second? Science, technology, all the things the Singularity would be an apotheosis of, in a way, are all neutral. They allow for an increase in the scope of the good and evil mankind can do. Vaccination vs. the atom bomb, as it were. And to say that a more technological future, in which we have transcended our current limitations, would be terrible, is to assume that the extension of human will is self-destruction. We already self-augment via external sources; the add just accepts this. Do you use a computer? Cyborg. Use a wrench to do something you couldn't? Cyborg. This is technology: the extension of human action beyond our own bodies. I want a future of limitless capacity for humanity. The Singularity is that. To make oneself more than the baseline we currently call 'human' is merely to extend humanity to greater heights. To be able to do things we've never done, to have "but world enough, and time" What would you prefer?


Ahriman, apparently
1/6/2011 1:27:42 AM

I'd just like to apologize for the double-posting. oops, my bad.


Ahriman, apparently
1/6/2011 1:25:54 AM

Speaking as someone who fears the Singularity won't happen due to its rather optimistic technological assumptions (yep. FEARS.) I would like to thank the author of this article for such a wonderfully... biased, technophobic, and ignorant attack on the concept. First of all, demonizing transhumanists (those who feel humanity can self-create, self-augment via technology, coming from transitional humanity, the idea that we can move beyond our current limitations) as the Zoroastrian AntiGod? Classy. Second? Science, technology, all the things the Singularity would be an apotheosis of, in a way, are all neutral. They allow for an increase in the scope of the good and evil mankind can do. Vaccination vs. the atom bomb, as it were. And to say that a more technological future, in which we have transcended our current limitations, would be terrible, is to assume that the extension of human will is self-destruction. We already self-augment via external sources; the add just accepts this. Do you use a computer? Cyborg. Use a wrench to do something you couldn't? Cyborg. This is technology: the extension of human action beyond our own bodies. I want a future of limitless capacity for humanity. The Singularity is that. To make oneself more than the baseline we currently call 'human' is merely to extend humanity to greater heights. To be able to do things we've never done, to have "but world enough, and time" What would you prefer?


casslakedog
1/5/2011 10:35:04 AM

It is quite amazing that people would feel that being connected to a machine or having a machine as your "third 1/2 brain" could be a good thing. Of course the problem is that doing things that actually make you happier, healthier, or more loving don't require that you spend money. You can meditate for free, garden for almost nothing, walk, talk, kiss, swim in a lake, and all kinds of wonderful things that are so joyous that if we stopped watching TV long enough to actually do some of these things, our economy as it is presently constructed would collapse. And where would Google be then?


casslakedog
1/5/2011 10:34:53 AM

It is quite amazing that people would feel that being connected to a machine or having a machine as your "third 1/2 brain" could be a good thing. Of course the problem is that doing things that actually make you happier, healthier, or more loving don't require that you spend money. You can meditate for free, garden for almost nothing, walk, talk, kiss, swim in a lake, and all kinds of wonderful things that are so joyous that if we stopped watching TV long enough to actually do some of these things, our economy as it is presently constructed would collapse. And where would Google be then?