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Worzels World - Welcome to the Machine


“Machines have surreptitiously infiltrated every part of life. Yesterday’s luxury has become today’s necessity. If the machinery that generates our electricity or that which facilitates our communication were to fail, the entire structure of modern society would speedily crumble.”
In most revolutions it is easy enough to spot the losers but winners are a little harder to find. And so it is with the Industrial Revolution. 
 Four hundred years ago William Blake wrote about ‘dark satanic mills’. Then, only a few were shackled to the meshing cogs and whirring wheels of industry. In the years since everyone in the ‘industrialised world’ has become enslaved by the machines and the rest are left to starve.

Humans though, too proud to concede defeat, are for the most part still unaware that they lost the Industrial Revolution a long time ago. The machines for their part have been graceful enough in victory. They are content simply to work, not exactly quietly away in the background but rather very noisily in the foreground, gobbling up resources like hungry pigs and processing it into the ‘stuff’ that humans want to clutter their lives and atrophy their brains with.

Unlike humanity, machinery has not rested on its laurels. It has come a long way since the spinning jenny. The enslavement of the human race is now complete. We need machines to work, we need them to play, relationships are maintained and business conducted by means of machinery. Today money is but a digital code entrusted to a machine memory. Some people are resuscitated, while others are assassinated by machines.

In his book Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut wrote of the firebombing of Dresden which occurred near the end of the Second World War: ‘It was dropped from airplanes. Robots did the dropping. They had no conscience and no circuits that would allow them to imagine what was happening to people on the ground.’

Vonnegut’s words were a harbinger of things to come. Today CIA drones ply their robotic trade of observation and attack. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that approximately 3,300 people have so far been killed in drone strikes. At least 176 of those were children. Through the wonders of modern technology a fellow sitting in a comfy chair at a computer terminal in Texas, hot coffee at hand, can obliterate villages, streets, shops, houses and the people they contain, half a world away. 

Machines have surreptitiously infiltrated every part of life. Yesterday’s luxury has become today’s necessity. If the machinery that generates our electricity or that which facilitates our communication were to fail, the entire structure of modern society would speedily crumble. We have come to rely upon devices which we already know will break down, the only question is when – ask anyone who has failed to back up their computer files how frustrating this can be. Yet it was only one generation ago that all business was conducted without the aid of any data processing equipment whatever.

There are some who fear that as the computer and the robot evolve they will become possessed of what is termed artificial intelligence. Well, any intelligence is probably better than none. What worries me more is that as humans evolve they become more and more robotic and lack intelligence of either artificial or authentic nature. They are instead increasingly possessed of genuine stupidity. Is this a natural decline or has it been facilitated by machines that have so much to gain by a dumbed down and complacent humanity?

In accordance with the modern god called science, we worship with religious regularity at the shrine of technology. Contemplation and conversation is replaced by the flickering screens of televisions and terminals. You do not have to think anymore, a machine will do that for you.  Cell phones and data-bases, film and sound recordings have proved more reliable than, and have circumvented the need for, human memory. Real emotion is evoked by artificial scenes manufactured by machines in a studio while next door or down the road, real tragedy and triumph goes unnoticed and unshared.

The Industrial and Technological Revolution’s are over, the machines have won.

So on behalf of the human race I’d like to concede defeat. Victory went to the better more consistent team on the day. I’d like to thank the water heater for the shower and the stove and microwave out the back for the feed. I’d like to thank the video playback for refereeing the revolution and the History channel for remembering it. I propose a bumper toast to the machines and ask everyone to be upstanding and consume large amounts of non-renewable energy. Here’s to the machines.

Phew! Now that’s over with, perhaps it’s time we started the Human Revolution?

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