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Are We Trapped In a Borg-like World?

YOWUSA.COM, 19-August-00
Steve Russell

Does it ever seem like the noise and the pace of the modern world just seems to press down on you so much that  you begin to lose your sense of self? Does it take pill or a drink just to dull the everyday pressure long enough to feel a sense of relief? Does something about all this seem unnatural when you compare your life with that of past generations? If you answered yes to just one these questions then you've taken the first step in understanding the fact that we now live in a Borg-like world that is slowly and surely dehumanizing us.

Star Wars Imperial TrooperIn the Star Trek Next Generation series, Captain Picard was captured by an  android-like race of humans. These androids assimilated other species with a sense of righteousness and in turn destroyed their uniqueness. After being  converted to a Borg, Captain Picard became Locutus

This whole Borg scenario warns us of becoming over mechanized, but it also offers us hope when Picard is  saved by the crew of the Enterprise and is returned to his former self, but  with a new Borg awareness.

This Star Trek theme parallels other great films that also warn us that we could lose ourselves within an overly mechanized society, and in turn become something we do not want to be. The reason why themes like this resonate with us, is that they tap a long  standing and deep-seated fear.

This Fear Is Nothing New

This theme of an overly mechanized society comes back again-and-again because no matter how comfortable our lives  have become thanks to technology. Since the beginnings of the industrial age,  mankind has been unable to escape its fear of a mechanized future.

In what is considered a film classic by movie critics, the the 1926 film, Metropolis by German director  Fritz Lang first codified this human dilemma in celluloid for posterity.

Metropolis by Fritz Lang (1926) In 1926, Fritz Lang's movie Metropolis warned us of what our lives  would become today. Lang's vision of the future has unfolded, and we have  become the automatons he warned us about back in 1926. We seem powerless to  stop this dehumanizing trend, and yet recent films like The Matrix,  warn us of an even darker future that resonates within our deep instincts.

What Metropolis and The  Matrix warn us about, is that there is something fundamentally wrong with our present day cultures grasp of reality. As society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, we are becoming more willing to accept spoon-fed  copies of the natural world that once existed everywhere. If we suddenly found  ourselves in the forest, or out in the desert (without our gas guzzling SUV's, 4-man tents, air mattresses and hand held GPS devices), we would be confused, lost, scared, and probably dead.

Our abstraction from the real world  has increased our dependence on technology to survive. We must be mindful  of the progressive takeover that is slowly turning us into mindless automatons. Technology has dominated our lives because not enough people have initially asked or acted on the question: What harm could this new knowledge do to our society in the future? The truth is, while many of us were preoccupied worrying about new technological robots; we failed to see what was really happening around us. We were not replaced by robots. We became the robots! We are losing touch with our Earth and ourselves, and this begs the question, "Are we becoming Borg?" If so, is there anything we can do to reverse the trend?

In The Matrix, we are shown  a futuristic world where the human accomplishment of creating artificial intelligence has produced millions of robots that have taken over the world. The machines  feed from the energy within humans that are grown in cocoons and harvested  across mile wide landscapes. What The Matrixkeeps  the humans alive, growing, and preoccupied, is a sophisticated virtual reality  program that has complete control of all the senses and produces the reality  that we know and live in today. The main character is Neo, is an autonomous socially respectable computer programmer by day and ruthless computer hacker  by night. He lives and breathes computers. With the help of rebels living  underground in the real world, Neo is awoken from his cocoon after taking a virtual pill (A small computer virus that shuts down the program). There  is no turning back; he must now face the harsh reality of the truth. He realizes that his life has been wasted inside a simulation to provide power to machines  that rule the Earth.

Before Neo awoke from his artificial reality, he was given a choice between a red pill and a blue pill. He was told that if he took the blue pill the story would end. He would wake up in his virtual bed and continue believing whatever virtual reality was presented to him. If he took the red pill, he would stay in a world not unlike the wonderland of Alice and shown how deep the rabbit-hole truly goes. In other words, he  would discover the truth about his life. The truth that he could not see because  of the rules of the reality that constituted his artificial life.

Parallels between our lives and  the underlying meaning of this futuristic sci-fi action movie can be made. Although there are currently no machines that are using our energy to survive,  there are large corporations. The corporations that we work for are the products of a technological society that has been built from the tension of a cold war. Are these corporations draining the life out of us to become a stronger and competitive force in the tough new global economy?

The rules of the virtual reality that preoccupied the minds of the human crops are not unlike the laws and  regulations that have been administered to us by the governments of society. The rules control every aspect of how we live our lives. They stop us from being what we really want to be. They stop us from seeing the truth. We are  born into this society without ever knowing what we could be or do if these  rules did not exist, or were different.

Like Neo, if we empower ourselves  with the knowledge of what is happening around us, we can rise to a new level  of enlightenment that can give us control over our lives and destiny. Now  consider the back button at the top of your browser the blue pill that will  provide you with no new knowledge or enlightenment, and you may continue your  life as normal. The rest of this article acts as the red pill, giving you  an insight into the methodology of our society and the empowerment to regain any control that you may have lost over your life.

What About Your Own Life?

Do you work five or more days a  week for a company that expects more than eight hours a day of your valuable  time? If so, you may be donating up to eighty percent of your life to a company  that is shortening the average life expectancy of its employees. Perhaps you  work in a small office within a cubicle breathing somebody's recycled air, getting sicker by the day. Maybe you work outdoors in 40 degree Celsius heat, performing backbreaking physical labor that is slowly decreasing the amount of days your going to be able to spend on your feet when you are retired.

"Life  is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament."
George Santayana

Many people are working in jobs  simply because they need money, instead of because they enjoy the work. Do you wake up on a Monday wishing you did not have to go to work? Do you find  yourself wishing that Friday would arrive sooner? If so, perhaps your life is something similar to this summary:

The hours between six and eight  in the morning is the Monday that you wish you did not have to wake up to. Nine to eleven is the Tuesday where you just wish the lunchtime break would  arrive. Twelve to one is the break at lunch, the Wednesday where you have made if halfway, you are now on the home straight. Two to three is the Thursday  where you cannot wait for the end to come. It is so close you wish you could fast forward time. Four to five, Friday, it is all over. While you have been wishing and anxiously waiting for Friday to come, your life has been ending  one day at a time.

If this roughly resembles your feelings throughout the week, ask yourself: What have I accomplished? Who  has benefited from my time? Perhaps it is time you finally looked for that  dream job you have always wanted. Take some time off to do the necessary study  to take control of your life and become satisfied with your achievements each week.

And To What Ends?

Are we are wasting our lives on  companies that sell us products beyond our own basic needs? Yes. These products come in every shape and form with the promise of many great advantages. The marketing campaigns of the corporations are nothing more than a disguise to conceal the detrimental consequences that could occur from owning or using their products.

"In  an autocracy, one person has his way; in an aristocracy a few people have their way; in a democracy no one has his way."
Celia Green

Sales people are trained in the  psychology of the consumer's mind. They tell us nothing more than what we  want to hear. As consumers  we should be investigating what disadvantages could result from what is being  offered. Sadly, we often listen to what we want to hear, and so the destructive  aftermath has the enduring effects on our lives.

New products are the result of research and development by our scientists and engineers. The majority of which think in a similar fashion to Albert Einstein who said, "I never  think of the future. It comes soon enough." Not enough people first  ask or act on the question: What harm could this knowledge do to our society  in the future?

There  was once a time when we could walk where we pleased at our own pace, without  having to obey any traffic regulations. When motor vehicles were introduced,  they offered to increase mans freedom with advantages of comfort, protection  from the elements, and speed. However, the introduction of motorized transport  quickly changed our society in a way that greatly restricted our freedom of movement. Once the number of motor vehicles reached a breaking point, the government had to regulate their use. In densely populated areas, we can no longer go where we like at our own leisure. Our progress is governed by the  flow of traffic and by numerous traffic laws.

We are tied down by various obligations  like licensing, driver tests, renewing registrations, insurance, maintenance and monthly repayments. Today the use of motorized transport is no longer  optional, although the illusion still exists. Since the introduction of motorized transport, the arrangement of our cities has changed. We no longer live within  walking distance of our place of employment, shopping centers and recreational areas. We are forced to depend on our automobiles for transportation. If we choose not to own one, then we must use public transportation, in which case we have even less control over our movements. We move toward our destinations  when the lights are green, we stop when they are red. We are controlled and restricted by the intensifying rules in our society.

Where Are We Going In Such A Rush?

The first sheep, pigs and cows have already been genetically cloned. The first stage of fully understanding our own genetic code has already been completed. We cannot even begin to imagine what research is being done in secret with this technology for use in biological  warfare. The lawsuits for discrimination and the cataloguing of humans will increase prejudice thinking and divide us as a species. We as a society have  failed to ask and act on the fundamental question: What harm could this knowledge  do to our society in the future?

"I never worry about action, only inaction."
Sir Winston Churchill

The problems with asking such questions, are the answers. Its not just the advantages of technology that are abundant,  the disadvantages are just as frequent. The problem lies in knowing which  predicted problems are going to be more relevant and detrimental than the other ones. All we can do is be mindful of what is happening around us and  take action when it is necessary.

The industrial revolution was followed by a technology takeover, the worst of which still has not occurred, but is  progressively on its way. Citizens initially raised their concerns about a  predicted influx of artificially intelligent robots and computers that would  takeover jobs around the world.

"The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future  is that we may become robots."
Erich  Fromm

The truth is, while we were preoccupied  worrying about the robots, we failed to see what was really happening around us. We were not replaced by robots; we became the robots! Computers have made our lives so easy Terminatorand  our jobs so much more manageable that the workload has increased along with expectations. The dramatic and sudden increase in expectations has resulted in elevated levels of stress and violence in our families. When our families  lose control, society starts to erode. Our children are now in the streets  shooting each other with intents to kill.

We now do more in a single day than we ever did before. There are so many things expected of us in a single day from nine to five, our behavior has become robotics in nature. Our lives revolve around the clocks on our walls, wrists, computers, microwaves, televisions, cars, video players, and beds. Every morning our computerized alarm clocks  tell us to wake up, "The Company needs you!"

When we have a shower, we follow a standard procedure that is completely automatic and robotic in nature. We have a procedure for ironing our clothes, dressing ourselves, washing things, brushing our teeth and driving to work. We have figured out the quickest way  to get to work so we can arrive early and start making companies their money. How and when did we discover the most efficient route to work? Our lives are becoming automatic, on schedule, and robotic in every way.

The biological functionality of  our brains consists of nothing more than electrical pulses. These electrical  pulses are rapidly switched on and off. This on and off state of being is  equivalent to the ones and zeros that combine to make the entire language  of our robots and computers. Are we not then superficial biological robots  following the procedures of a predetermined software package with a set of instructions designed to include the ignorance that grants us the illusion  of free will?

"We  have to believe in free will. We've got no choice."
Isaac  Singer

If we lived like every other animal  on this planet, eating, sleeping, reproducing and surviving; would we really care about, or be interested in our hobbies, sports, jobs or education? These  are all activities that help to provide the illusion of free will and remove us from nature at the same time. The task of surviving is taken care of for us so long as we continue to support the system. This means we become bored and must preoccupy ourselves with these essentially useless activities that do nothing more than keep us entertained and feed the power of a system that exponentially takes us to higher levels of abstraction from reality. The reality  around us is controlled.

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