|COMPUTERS IN THE 80'S|
|by David Eide||.|
I wrote a short story in 1971 about a future loaded up with computers, all connected so that everything could be done by the push of a few buttons. The futurists gave me that idea but I used it well. The government had to sweep the nation of discontents like writers, thinkers, musicians and so on because this new computer world was so effortless and dependent on a populace grateful for the "new heaven". The miscreants were put on asteroids where they were free to write, think, play and do anything that wanted. I had projected that story into the future so I was shocked when I moved to Berkeley in 1975 to see both the computer and the interconnection of computers in play by small bands of nerds.
I am all for computers but I did have my doubts when I was younger. I was reticent because of the experience of new technology like the car and TV. Who knows what computers will eventually do as it competes with the human desire for immortality? After all, the computer and whatever mutation it goes through is going to survive me and it could very well be that the computer will extinguish everything I value and trust while creating a world I can hardly recognize.
This new technology emerges as older technology begins to be comprehended by experience. Automobiles, for instance, which were genuinely revolutionary and did extend the ability of the human being to move around. And we begin to see the consequences of the car. Its' overwhelming effect on the economy, for instance. Its' ability to change the nature of community; therefore, work and family. It removes human beings from the open ground and surrounds him and her with a metal machine casing for significant periods of time, alone with their own thoughts, with the commentary of the talk show, rock music, and the baseball game. It introduced the terrors of machine death. It spewed deadly toxins into the atmosphere. In other words, from being a liberator of sorts it turned into a problem. And that should tip one off to the computer revolution. There are no exhaust pipes associated with computers although there are signs that video terminals have a bad effect on the eyes.
In fact it's quite apparent that the next phase of the technological revolution is to account for the massive psychological and physiological effects it has had on general humanity. That is, individual technology such as the car, airplane, computer, amplified music, tv, etc and the cumulative effect of a technological universe.
Some fool has to stand up and ask, "why are we sacrificing ourselves to this technology?"
The futurists, science fiction writers, some individual scientists have been asking themselves these questions.
The first thing I would do would be to learn as much as possible about technology- the scientific principles that go to make up technology and the history of the technology. I would read up on all of the pro and anti-technological material. I would save significant periods of time to meditate on the role of technology in our own life, the life of community and society. I would think about the types of experts it breeds.
Technology put pressure on society that puts pressure on every aspect of itself, that puts pressure on those working in it, which puts pressure on the family, which puts pressure on children. Society seems to regulate itself this way.
Does this pressure occlude freedom and the need to develop resources that carry freedom further than a few adolescent experiments? Why are people addicted to the pressure that destroys them? That's another question to ask oneself or, at least, struggle with.
And this is why it is imperative to overcome whatever innate fear or awe you have of authority, out of which this pressure comes.
The pressure to conform! What an old time-worn phrase yet, how true! And how pernicious when everything is said and done.
It is being replaced by the pressure to perform which is why so much emphasis has been put on entertainment of late. Culture used to shift that pressure to religion, now it is entertainment. What does it say when entertainers are at the apex of the culture and religion is near the bottom?
Entertainment is the main expression of a corporate culture. It is so massive, all consuming, structured that all value is lost in simply finding your way and so the most profound expression is comical or counterfeit. And the only alternative is to dive back down to the deep, dim past and extract values embedded there and express them.
The one thing that saves this culture is the ability to change.
© 2016 David Eide. All rights reserved.