Have you seen those ads for Android phones? I find them rather disturbing, and not just because I’m playing for Team Apple.
The ads, which have awesome effects, are kind of like the prelude to a Bionic Pride March.
Not that I have anything against bionic humans. I know lots of people are alive and enjoying a quality of life they wouldn’t have otherwise, thanks to the various bits of machinery that helps their hearts beat, and more.
And it’s not like I haven’t aspired to be a machine, myself. Someone, or more accurately, something who can pound out 450 words in less than an hour, while making sure fluid levels are safe and nothing overheats.
Still – is a Terminator-laden world the future we really want for ourselves?
Machines make lots of cool noises; they point and click, zoom in and out. And they seem kind of infallible.
But only up to a point. Have you ever owned or worked with a piece of machinery that never, ever broke down?
Of course not. Not only do machines break down all the time, even with “Low toner messages” and “Check engine lights,” most of the time they don’t give you any advance warning of their impending collapse.
Of course, these malfunctions usually occur at the worst possible time.
So why do people want to turn into machines? I think part of it is that we like the reliability factor, the idea that we could just keep plugging away at some task, getting the job done, day in and day out.
But, as I’ve just pointed out, machines aren’t always that much more reliable then us human-error prone bipeds.
So I think maybe the most appealing thing about machines is that they don’t feel and they don’t get bored and they don’t get disheartened. They just keep going.
If you’re stuck in a dead-end job, or working several jobs to stay afloat, who wouldn’t want to be a more grimy, macho version of the Energizer Bunny?
So I understand the impulse. But the problem is, even if you’re the toughest Energizer Bunny there is, if you hit a wall or an obstacle, you’ll just keep bumping into it over and over until something breaks. Most likely that’ll be you.
A person who hits a wall feels pain, and decides to do something, like change direction, or polish up the old resume.
Consciousness and feelings can be a real drag sometimes, but they’re better than any warning light a machine can generate. Being aware of discomfort and pain is one of the biggest motivators I know of for positive change.
So let’s stay human, with all of our smarts and suffering. We’re more likely to make ourselves the lives we want, and we’ll use a lot less oil.
by Danielle Dresden