AGE OF CONSEQUENCES

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Homo sapiens and its technology have become inseparable. At the beginning, the animal depended on very rudimentary means to withstand the vagaries of nature. Gradually, its discovery, creation and usage of technology secured its continuous survival, at least till now. The species’ cunny manipulation of the natural world, via technology, allowed it to dominate all and sundry. As it stands, the unison, i.e., between the never (almost) changing animal and the ever compounding tech, seems to have gone beyond manageable. In fact, role reversal between the two might well be in our future. AI (artificial intelligence) is one potentially realizable trajectory that might seal the arrival of the looming role reversal. The unwieldy tech regime or the technosphere, operating over all aspects of collective existence, is causing incalculable damage, not only to us, but also to the wider bio/ecosphere. Something has to give!
In light of our current as well as very probable Frankenstein future, why is the dominant animal so complacent about the whole thing? Allowing the non-biological self-perpetuating entity to dominate over the primacy of biological existence, not only of our species’ but also that of other life forms cannot be a benign phenomenon altogether. Worryingly and given the continuous development of the technosphere, what will the future hold? These and other issues must be debated and deliberated upon, if human survival is still desired. Admittedly, free and open discussions on such matters have not been encouraged by TPTB (The Power That Be), for the obvious reasons. But this discouragement by dominant interests should not be taken as an excuse for not engaging in this critical matter. Humanity’s infatuation about many of the temporal miracles of the technosphere must be deconstructed and interrogated because of serious consequences that have been impacting the very life support systems of our planet. Very dysfunctional social configuration that might boil over and overwhelm harmonious existence between peoples of the planet is another of the consequences of the technosphere!
Inherently unstable and lopsided irrational schemes of the modern world system, like the global economy, have been facilitated and encouraged by the technosphere. In these realms, collapse is also threatening. The underlying narrative of the economistic world system goes like this. Economic growth can go on forever across the breadth and width of the planet. ‘Limit to growth’, due to, amongst other things, shortage of resources, is not crucial in world of the technosphere. To a large extent, capitalist modernity, which is the prevailing socio-economic construct, is the byproduct of the increasingly unwieldy and cumulative technosphere. Today, growth in the technosphere is construed as growth in the economy, at least according to the usual simplistic analysis of the establishment. The concept of ‘limit to growth’ is anathema to the thinking of the prevailing modern world system, buttressed by the celebrated interstate system of rigid political arrangement. Therefore, efforts by the status quo to thwart off alternative socio-economic formations are only expected to increase in time. Here again consequences are already visible. Polarization on world scale leading to mass exodus, to presumed greener pastures, massive pauperization within the confines of the nation-states, crimes and instability, etc. are all indicatives of consequences. As former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen observed; ‘It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority.’
Trying to deconstruct the cumulative impact of the technosphere on the human animal, particularly in the realm of the psychology, culture, religion, relations, etc., has not been a welcomed thread of enquiry, even in academia. This subject has been generally slanted, even by most independent and capable critics of the world system, save the few Avant guards like Herbert Marcuse, et al. Classical psychoanalysis as well as modern psychiatry tend to blame the flimsy and weak individual who hardly has any say in the scheme of things, while condoning the insanity of modern society. For the most part, the implied verdict of modern psychiatry is: it is the individual that is sick and not the larger society! Such intentionally biased conclusions also have consequences. Intensely subjected to the logic of the technosphere, increasing numbers of victims are resorting to all sorts of drugs/opioids (legal or otherwise), alcohol, etc., to find relative solace.
This editorial was first published in 2020