I was listening to a program on Radio 4 today at around 5pm. The program was discussing building robots that learn and had a boffin from The University of Ulster. They discussed a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo and the boffin was asked what the potential benefits of all this nonsense was.
He replied that in the future we could have shopping trolleys which lead us directly to the shelf where we can find our desired items. He went on to say that we would be able to get our own personal genome information downloaded to our phones and the phones would then advise us on the health aspects of the food items we choose. Information on the food we chose would then affect our health insurance premiums.
I have regularly ranted against modern society and particularly against the submissiveness of western governments to corporate capital. In my view this has reduced too much human interaction to that of corporation vs consumer.
I turned 50 this year and of course it is possible that my dissatisfaction is merely the ravings of an old git but Jesus Christ! When I was a teenager the vision of the future was of colonising the galaxy, space craft and artificial intelligence. Now we have some cutting edge scientist expounding his vision of the future and it turns out to be nothing more than a talking shopping trolley and men in suits penalising us for eating donuts!
If this is progress then I ask: progress toward what?
Since the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and the rise of free market capitalism throughout the world humanity appears to have given up on envisioning a positive future. Instead of promulgating a collective vision that we can all work toward our leaders emphasise that we are all competing with each other and that the only choice we have is between Coke and Pepsi.
The vision of the future which emerges from such hopeless thinking is that all political power will move from elected governments to corporate capital. Corporations will become so powerful that democratically elected national governments will be powerless and our leaders appear to have no wish to avoid this this future presumably because they all have large stakes in the corporations.