Enslaved

By on June 29th, 2017 in Editorial & Opinion, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Societal Impact

Katina Michael delivers performance of “Enslaved” at the IQ2 debate, Sydney, Aug. 2014.

 This performance art piece was delivered by Katina Michael at the Intelligence Squared (IQ2) debate at the City Recital Hall, Sydney, Australia, on August 12, 2014. The topic of the debate was “Are we becoming enslaved by our technology?” Joining Katina on the affirmative side was the Crikey (an Australian e-magazine) correspondent for politics, media, and economics, Bernard Keene, and Dimension Data’s general manager of security and internet safety Alastair McGibbon. On the negative side was Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, backed by journalist, filmmaker and blogger, Antony Loewenstein, and by Asher Wolf, a self-described information activist. The debate was moderated by Dr. Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre and broadcast on Australia’s ABC Radio National and ABC Big Ideas television program. The debate is available for viewing in full at: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2014/09/04/4081183.htm. The results of the online vote can be found at http://www.iq2oz.com/debates/we-are-becoming-enslaved-by-our-technology-/. As of October 31, 2014, 807 online votes had been received from the general public: 53% of online votes indicated we are becoming enslaved by technology.

 

  • First there was darkness
    • Then came the light
    • And the darkness was called night
      • And was separated from the light
      • And that was called day.
  • First came the knife
    • And then fire
    • Shelter, spear and clothing
      • The boat and the wheel
      • And then eventually the quill.
  • First came the printing press
    • The steam engine
    • The Spinning Jenny
      • The telegraph
      • The photograph
      • The phonograph
      • Analytical and differential engines
      • And the light bulb
      • And the television.
    • Industrial revolution
      • Mass production
      • Mass market
        • Automobiles
        • Urbanisation
        • Mechanisation
        • Computerisation
        • Communications and electronic highways.
    • Mega-cities as big as countries
      • Mega-problems
      • The solution?
      • Why the census, of course-
        • Sense-less surveillance
        • Sensor-rich big data
        • Machine learning
        • An Internet of Everything
        • Atomised bits and pieces
        • Of things and people
          • De-corporealisation
          • Dehumanization.
    • Creating because we can
      • Wars and bombs
      • Radical innovations
      • Computational machinery
      • Spy satellites
      • High-speed trains
      • Drones
      • Brain-to-computer interfaces
      • Robots
      • Hubots
      • Artificial intelligence
      • Brain in a vat
        • Let’s see how far we can go.
    • From inventing for survival
      • Then for the shareholders
        • Then for convenience
          • And finally for the sheer sake of inventing.
    • It’s called need
      • No, it’s actually greed
      • No, it’s called optimisation and efficiency
        • No, no, no, it’s called freedom and liberation
          • Smart grids,
          • Smart homes
          • Smart meters
          • Smart cars
          • Smart clothes
          • Smart people-
        • Yes, yes, enslavement in disguise.
    • This is the upgrade generation
    • The throwaway generation
      • Buy a new printer
      • It’s cheaper and faster than getting a new toner for your old one-
      • Leave it on the scrap heap of e-waste
      • It’s somebody else’s environmental problem.
    • We’re the consumption generation
      • Soldering whitegoods for a few dollars each
      • Impoverished workers suicide
      • Unable to cope with production demands
        • But that’s over there, and we’re over here.
    • We’re the all you can eat fast food and frozen pizza generation
    • The Genetically Modified quantifiable generation
      • Like the lifetime of DDT-
      • Persistence
    • We’re the plastic generation
      • We can’t be bio-degradably broken down that easily.
    • We’re the Do-It-Yourselfer generation
      • Equipped with 3D printers
      • And electronic checkouts,
        • We currently scan out our goods on our own
        • While they’re all-too-busy scanning us!
    • We’re the “always on” generation
      • Mobiles
      • Social media
      • Content
        • Instant gratification
        • Living in the cloud.
    • We’re the generation that witnesses cyberbullying and viral videos
      • And as a result 13 years olds who take their own life.
    • We’re the generation that hears about 3 month old babies dying of dehydration
      • While their parents raise the perfect online child.
    • We’re the generation where 30-somethings forget themselves at Internet Cafes
      • And can’t keep a 9 to 5 job.
    • We’re the generation that manufactures toxic toys for kids under 3.
    • We’re the generation that wirelessly broadcasts
      • Music that glorifies
        • Murder
        • Rape
        • Abuse.
  • We are living a locked-in syndrome
  • Like the moth effect
  • Positive phototaxis–
    • Look for the light
    • It’s blue
    • It’s coming from over there
    • Let me go to it and see what it is about
      • Oh, I am alive
      • Reaffirmation I’m not alone
      • Well, I’m lonely, but at least I have-
        • 1,007 online Facebook friends following me
        • And I don’t know most of them,
        • But who cares it gives me something to do
        • Better than being bored.
  • I’m coming to you, oh screen, where art thou?
    • Watch out—don’t get too close
      • Because if you get too close, then you are no longer
      • Like the moth that is drawn to the light-
      • Tzzz-
        • Zap
        • RIP
        • Too late.
  • Hang on-
  • All this technology
  • Surely some good can come from it!
    • In touch every second of every day
    • Out of touch however physically–
      • I text you “I luv u”
  • But I’m too tired and too scared to
    • Kiss
    • And embrace you
      • And make love to you
    • This technology is desensitising
    • Seductive.
  • “Hang on love-just another email from the boss”
    • The clock is ticking but that “thing” is pinging
      • A voicemail
      • Another email
      • Yet another status update
        • [Message received – whistle sound from Android device.]
      • Megabytes
      • Mega work
      • Mega nothingness
      • What a nightmare-
        • The botnets are coming!
      • Oh-another virus, I’ve accidentally executed.
      • I wonder why my supervisor hasn’t replied yet-
      • I wonder if they got my message,
        • If they’ll respond,
        • If they hate me,
      • Oh, I get so anxious these days
        • That I cannot cope with all the traffic buzzing in my head,
        • It’s terrifying really.
      • Oops!- I didn’t mean to press SEND.
  • Long hours behind the computer
  • Burning back aches
  • Fingers arthritic
  • Red eyes from red alerts
  • I’ve got to get home-
    • Mind melt-down
    • Electronic slavery
    • Technological treachery
  • Hang on I’ll just relax a little and play some Minecraft or Starcraft
    • Oh, I wonder what’s happening on World of WarCraft
    • WOW-wwweee….
    • No one will notice if I am using the board room to strategise for my
      • Second Life
    • 17 windows open all at once
    • Why can’t I concentrate like I used to?
    • Why can’t these new recruits pen something that makes sense?
      • So many spelling errors
      • No structure-
    • I’ll have to redo their work, but what’s the time?
      • — Oh she’s onto me again
      • I should ignore her instant message
      • But I just can’t say NO.
    • Virtual hands
    • Virtual death
      • Respawn
    • Virtual lust-
      • “I’d like to get it on with you”
      • “How old are you?”
      • “Do you use Skype?”
      • “Wanna do some Google with me and let it Hangout?”
    • Virtual sex-
      • It’s not real
      • Don’t worry, everybody does it!
      • It won’t lead to anything
      • It doesn’t mean anything
      • What the missus doesn’t know won’t hurt her-
        • She cannot give me the same fix
        • The real is just so boring
        • The virtual is limitless
      • But why do I feel so damn guilty?
        • I’m sure the police will never find out
          • Just in case she’s not 18.
        • But anyway it’s just a game
          • Everything’s a game these days
          • Even the trolls are making light of it!
        • But what if she’s really a he?
        • Oh, what have I got myself into!
    • Augmented reality
    • Digital glass
    • Dark glass
    • Dark matter
    • Dark space.
    • Oh, this is too hard to fight against
      • I hate myself-
      • I’m so addicted.
    • [Sound of child throwing tantrum over ipad.]
    • Oh these kids
    • I just fell asleep again after YouTubing all night-
      • –“I wan iPad” can’t be coming from my two year old, can it?
      • “Get off the computer
        • You’ve got to go to football”!
        • I tell my 10 year old off.
    • He responds throwing a tantrum:
      • “I wan iPad!”
      • “I wan iPod!”
      • “I wan Google Glass.”
      • “I wan iPlant!”
    • “What?”
    • “iPlant?”
    • “Is that what they’re talking about now?”
      • Weird!
      • Sick!
      • Wicked!
      • Wretched!
    • No, it’s probably the mark of the beast
    • Embedded implants for single sign on log-ins
    • That will save so much time-
      • But there’s never enough time
      • And there’s never a winner or
      • An end to those massively online multiplayer
      • Role playing games.
    • I wonder if they’ll invent more than just a kill-switch
      • What embedded security hacks?
      • How’d that work?
      • Remote controlled?
      • What control?
      • What do you mean I just jack in?
      • Aha-no choice to remove
      • A total loss of control!
        • They know who you are
        • Where you are
        • Where you’re going
        • And what condition you’re in
        • And they can even prove it biometrically!
      • Michael had dubbed it uberveillance long ago.
    • Big dog beckons as do the microscopic drones
    • A world of watchers about to explode-
      • Some of the hubots will even be paid to watch you
      • And record
      • What you do as you go about your business.
        • High-tech mimicry
        • Manipulation of the masses
        • Exploitation!-
          • We believe Wikipedia
          • And rely on Google search
          • We want to share our GPS coordinates
          • And take pictures of our food
          • And our nakedness
        • Benchmarking
          • That’s what it’s about
            • Benchmarking how fit we are
            • Or how unfit in mind and body we are.
      • But wait till our every day objects come alive-
      • Like the smoke detector that never lies and
      • Answers all your questions from the ceiling of your own home.
      • Just look-
      • Let me demonstrate:
      • [Looks up to ceiling and then questions.]
        • “What should I eat for breakfast?”
        • “What is the fastest animal on earth?”
        • “Now tell me the truth-who or what should I believe in?”
      • It’s all propaganda.
        • Disinformation.
        • Information annihilation
        • No body knows you’re a dog on the Internet
        • And soon no one will know the difference
        • Between virtual and physical
          • Illusion and reality.
      • It started with the ENIAC
        • And then from the ENIAC to the mainframe
        • From the mainframe to the minicomputer
        • From the minicomputer to the desktop
        • From the desktop to the laptop
        • From the laptop to the netbook
        • From the netbook to the wearable
        • From the wearable to the implantable!
      • Can’t you see the pattern my dear friends?
        • Can’t you see what we’ve become,
        • And are becoming?
      • Marching to the beat of the machine
      • It’s the elephant in the room.
        • Look, can’t you see it?
      • It’s the emperor parading naked down the street
        • Look, there he goes-
        • Really, there he is.
      • Internet addiction is real
        • Mobile addiction is real
          • Gaming addiction is real
            • The social implications are real
            • We all know their real because
            • We all know someone who is suffering!
      • It’s like the Elephant and the Emperor
      • We all know it’s around us
        • Right here
        • Right now-
    • So when, when are we going to take responsibility?
      • ***
    • To the question, “Are we becoming enslaved?”
      • I say “no” we’re not becoming enslaved,
      • Because we’re already deeply enslaved.
      • And instead of saying “STOP”
      • We keep asking for more?
        • But more surveillance does not equate to transparency
        • More information does not give us knowledge and wisdom.
    • Dear Techno-god
    • Thank you-
      • For the loyalty cards
      • For the barcodes
      • Smart cards
      • Spychips
      • ePassports
      • And for the CCTV cameras in every street.
      • For the 16 likes I got yesterday and 3 retweets
      • For the 167 iTune Apps I downloaded and never use
      • But which are probably tracking me.
      • For the gift of metadata and for data retention regimes
      • For the electronic gulags we are building
        • Enslave us even more
        • So we can fulfil the algorithm.
          • Amen-
        • Oh yes, and how about that
        • Permanent delete feature you’ve been promising?
    • Ladies and gentlemen, does this make sense?
    • Have we forgotten what it means to be free?
      • I never told you to switch off your computer completely
      • To give away your dishwasher
        • Your washing machine
        • Your day job
        • Or to stop talking to your friends on the phone-
        • Or to stop using email altogether
      • I’m asking you to get real.
        • Go home and have a look in the mirror
        • Have a good look at your eyes
          • Are they sunken like you’ve been wearing an Occulus Rift?
          • Do you get my drift?
        • Think for a change, just don’t do.
          • “Who am I?”
          • “Who have I become?”
          • “Who have we become?”
        • Switch off those devices-
          • Stop.
          • Think.
          • Open your eyes.
          • Reclaim your life-
            • Your kids, your spouse, your friends
          • Go outside and feel the chill
          • And see the natural sunlight
          • You are alive
            • But the technology is dead
          • Your heart is beating
            • But the batteries are forever dying.
      • Do we really wish to be the ones to breathe life into the machine?
      • What will be the consequences of this homo electricus we’re building?
      • The predators will become the prey
        • We will become victims of our own creations.
        • Yes, driverless cars,
          • But who is at the helm steering?
        • Out of control
        • Out of this world
        • Is this really what we mean by calculated progress?
        • Do you think we won’t be harmed?
        • We just can’t keep throwing technology at technological problems
          • Domino-effect
          • Parabolic trajectories-
            • What goes up must come down
          • Forget the singularity.
        • Where has all that precious time gone?
          • Sucked into vectors of nothingness.
        • I ask you to listen, to reflect,
          • To ask two questions:
          • “Why am I here?”
          • “What’s my calling?”
            • It’s to embrace
            • It’s to look up
            • It’s to be human, once again.

Author

Katina Michael