MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Last night there appeared to be an overwhelming amount of interest in the Transhuman agenda of stopping the aging process. There were however a few people who were a bit concerned about how technology is little by little taking away our humanity. The biggest concern was with spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
Transhumanism is a cultural movement, often represented as H+ (humanity plus), which believes that human limitations can be overcome with technology. While there are people who actively consider themselves a part of this group, everyone uses transhuman technologies without even realizing it — even you. How can this be? You don’t have a computer integrated into your brain, right?
With a broader understanding of what technology means, it becomes clear that you don’t need to convert completely to Cyborg consciousness or even want your brain downloaded into a computer to be thinking like a transhuman.
We have already begun to displace certain attributes typically characterized as human into all of our technology. Our memories have been on the decline since the invention of writing when remembering whole stories became unnecessary. Now, our memory has been almost entirely displaced onto our smartphone calendars and search engines like Google.
Nonstop communication on our computers, phones, and tablets gives us undeniable convenience. It all sounds great at first. Then, think about the countless times you’ve received a message, unsure what tone it should be read in—or how you should respond.
Trolls have been known to bully your children, you might have been harassed online and it has fouled your day.
The emotional rollercoaster that technology gives us, especially social platforms, is taking its toll on us psychologically.
Society has recently become so aware of emotional well-being and how to achieve it. We are constantly surrounded by campaigns that encourage us to take a break from work, clear our heads, and purify our minds to relax.
We are coerced in developing an online identity – pick a side politically, share your religious beliefs and your sexual orientation. Then there are hashtag activists that bombard you with causes to joining and petitions to sign.
It truly is taxing on our brains.
Technology does not portray emotion or intent clearly, yet society puts an emphasis on emotional awareness.
It is a technological paradox that brings with it a new type of anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
A former Facebook moderator is suing the company, claiming that the images she was expected to review on the site have given her post-traumatic stress disorder.
Selena Scola of San Francisco worked at Facebook for nine months through staffing contractor Pro Unlimited, also named in the litigation. There, she claims in the lawsuit, she was subjected to thousands of ‘videos, images and live-streamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder’.
Despite helping to establish a voluntary code for training, counseling and supporting content moderators more than ten years ago, she claims, Facebook has been failing to abide by its own guidelines. According to the lawsuit, Scola didn’t get the training she should have in how to handle the distress caused by the job.
Recently it was reported that Keith Utley, a Facebook moderator died of a heart attack while working as a moderator at the company.
Keith Utley was just 42-years-old when he died at his desk.
He had spoken out about how the grotesque videos were affecting his mental health, but he was also desperate to keep his job to support his family.
A former lieutenant commander of the Coast Guard he was one of the 800 workers employed by Cognizant – a Facebook content moderation site in Tampa, Florida.
The stress of the job was crippling Keith, who openly expressed that he was struggling with the content he saw.
An anonymous worker told “The Verge” website that being completely ensconced in social media can put you in a state of mind that is unworldly.
Keith was a graveyard shift worker and was found slumped over his desk in March last year, his colleagues raised the alarm when they noticed he was in distress and started sliding out of his chair.
According to The Verge, two co-workers began to perform CPR but no defibrillator was available in the building. By the time paramedics arrived, one worker said that Keith had already begun to turn blue.
According to one report, many of the staff members didn’t even look up from their screens. Many had no idea how long Keith had been dead.
Keith was pronounced dead in hospital, further information about his health history or exact circumstances of death were not released.
He left behind his wife Joni and two young daughters.
This whole scenario seemed as if it could have been part of a script form the TV show, Black Mirror.
For those of you who may not be familiar, Black Mirror is a British anthology science fiction television series. It examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Episodes are standalone, usually set in an alternative present or the near future, and often subjected to a dark and satirical tone.
Basically, it’s The Twilight Zone for those who are cynical about where technology is taking us.
Many people were acquainted with the “choose your own journey” television event “Bandersnatch” which was an installment in the Black Mirror series.
What is terrifying about the series is that most of the stories they present seem to eerily come true.
Very few shows have left such a poignant impression on pop culture, masterfully exploring humanity’s darkly symbiotic relationship with technology through engaging narratives.
The running themes throughout every episode is how technology seems to have a hold on our minds and shapes our views without us even knowing. It engenders the fear that we are no longer controlling the machines but that the machines are controlling us and even influencing our evolution.
Our devices already predict our next moves before we make them. Apple Keychain pops up, offering to enter a credit card number every time an online seller asks for payment information. When we run a simple Google search for “sweat socks”, our Facebook profiles carry advertisements for sweat socks when we login seconds later. When we forget to attach a document, Outlook reminds us to send it before we press enter.
At this time we may see this as harmless but over time it will certainly shape behaviors.
For example there have been times where I have used a laptop and have touched the screen thinking it was like my cell phone. It is a habit –and so it is becoming a conditioned response.
Technologies in computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, genomics and brain function are now advancing exponentially and are converging. Increasingly pervasive data networks and connected devices are enabling rapid communication and processing of information and ushering in unprecedented shifts.
I know from time to time we have asked ourselves if Google has the ability to read our minds. It comes from typing in a search term and having Google finish our sentences or give us the information that confirms our cognitive bias.
This type of behavior from a mere search engine should have us asking, is Google becoming an intelligence agent that has gone rogue?
The rearrangement of truth and values within the computer matrix should be of greater concern for the future of how we are being mentally controlled and conditioned.
The results of your searches appear to be the work many human agents within the Google matrix trying to re-organize society according to the truth and values of the exchange of information between agents and machines. However, what if we find out that there are no agents at the controls? What if we find out that the machines are going rogue and are not only changing our history, but are also changing the way we think and interact with one another.
What if we are seeing technology with the ability to frame arguments, or to understand how popular arguments are being framed and then send the necessary solution that fits with a determined outcome provided by collective intelligence gathering?
In a world of ever-shrinking attention spans, consumers flit through social media sites and eat up headlines and comment on them without reading the fine print. These comments can be data mined and then fed into a matrix that provides the information that is less objective and geared to toward the collective’s normalcy bias.
Neuro-programming takes over from here and choices are made based on what the computer tells you.
This is known as neuronet programming – it is not illegal because it can be said that new methods of television programming utilizes colors, flashes and cutaways to get the desired results.
In the X-Files episode, “Wetwired,” Mulder and Scully look into a series of homicides in which the killers were otherwise normal and harmless people. Somehow, all the perpetrators suddenly became delusional, triggered by a mysterious unknown force. The investigation finds that the killers were “triggered” by a color spectrum and sound manipulation originating from a tampered cable television box.
Scully eventually becomes affected and Mulder is not. Later it is revealed that Mulder is color blind and would not feel the subliminal effects of the flashing colors and malfunctioning cable box.
Mulder believes that there was a mind control device that was installed on the utility pole and that it turned people’s fears into dementia.
Internet companies have already created emotional analytics to help in the eventual psychological adjustment to the massive programming and hype reality both TV and the internet give us.
But it is not there to cure any psychological effects – it is there to analyze consumer response to their programming.
Emotional Analytics allows companies to understand what engages their consumers and provides insight on what tactics can be utilized to further entice them to use their products or services in the future.
These companies care enough to enhance or tone down their programming in order to make it palatable for the consumer.
Emotional Analytics can help companies center advertising campaigns around the interests and concerns of their clientele better than before, in turn engaging and enticing consumers better than ever.
It even provides online therapy if needed in order to bring about calm and peace.
Simply put, it is emotional self-help at the touch of a button.
There actual apps for emotional self-help in the iTunes store:
Calm- Offers a variety of mini-lessons to increase mindfulness. Lessons cover a plethora of topics, such as loving-kindness, forgiveness, and non-judgment.
Headspace- This tool offers a variety of meditation sessions, ranging from brief to lengthy. It also comes with rewards and reminders to encourage users to persist.
Pacifica- App users can join online communities to support one another, track their current mood status, and even observe their mood patterns. Users can also create “limits” for themselves on factors that trigger anxiety, such as caffeine and sleep.
Who needs a psychotherapist when you have an app to tell you that you are emotionally evolving into a programmable drone?
It is the equivalent of hitting a like button on kitten pictures you see on Facebook and soon everything becomes kitten pictures in your newsfeed doesn’t that make you feel a whole lot better?
Your wife is leaving you, you lose your job, and your truck won’t start—don’t pop open a beer and listen to country music—just hit the reaction bar on Facebook and soon those rainbow glittery unicorn pictures will get you back to normal.
Facebook gives you six emotions to choose from –all you have to do is select the emoticon – the thumbs up or thumbs down and that should be enough to give you the dopamine squirt you crave.
Well, that will pacify for now but later we will all evolve and it won’t matter until upgrades in stimuli are available. Meanwhile, a new study suggests that technology is having an effect in our bones.
New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion.
The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck.
In academic papers, a pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, argues that the prevalence of the bone growth in younger adults points to shifting body posture brought about by the use of modern technology. They say smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form, requiring users to bend their heads forward to make sense of what’s happening on the miniature screens.
The researchers said their discovery marks the first documentation of a physiological or skeletal adaptation to the penetration of advanced technology into everyday life.
Health experts warn of “text neck,” and doctors have begun treating “texting thumb,” which is not a clearly defined condition but bears resemblance to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Another paper, published in Clinical Biomechanics in the spring of 2018, used a case study involving four teenagers to argue that they had head horns and that they were not caused by genetic factors or inflammation, pointing instead to the mechanical load on muscles in the skull and neck.
The sort of strain required for the bone to infiltrate the tendon is linked to handheld devices that bring the head forward and down, requiring the use of muscles at the back of the skull to prevent the head from falling to the chest.
They are attributing the horn growths to something they call “Text Neck.”
Of course, bad posture was not invented in the 21st Century – people have always found something to hunch over. So why didn’t we get the skull protuberances from books? One possibility is down to the sheer amount of time that we currently spend on our phones, versus how long a person would previously have spent reading.
On the other side of the world, in Germany, scientists have discovered another bizarre development: our children’s elbows are shrinking.
Christiana Schaffer, an anthropologist from the University of Potsdam, was studying body measurements taken from school children when she noticed the trend.
To see exactly how much their skeletons had changed over time, Schaffer undertook a study of how robust, or “big boned”, children were between 1999 and 2009. This involved calculating their “frame index”, which is how a person’s height compares to the width of their elbows. Then she compared her results with those from an identical study that was 10 years older. She found that the children’s skeletons were becoming more and more fragile every year.
She believes that part of the problem is a sedentary lifestyle and that fact that long term handling of video game controllers are causing that malleable bones and joints to narrow.
So far I know of no app that can cure that at the press of a button.
However, things like “heads up displays” and ergonomic controllers are going to be affordable in the future.
A heads-up display are readings and relevant information that can be seen without lowering the eyes, and it usually projected onto a windshield, visor, helmet or glasses.
In the industry currently, the biggest impact within the space of heads-up display technologies can be seen in automotive Heads up displays, helmet integrations for military and sports purposes, as well as personal displays using hololens technology.
Personal heads-up displays have received the most attention commercially since Google Glass was made available to the public in early 2015. Google glass is classified as “smart glasses” and offers a heads-up display on one of the lenses. A touchpad on the side allows you to swipe through applications, like your social media pages and a functional camera. Glasses and goggles have yet to take off commercially mainly due to pricing, but their uses are broad.
As costs start to decline on this rapid evolution within the realm of augmented reality, the more commercial and public interest will begin to permeate the heads-up display market.
Rather than encouraging people to walk away from their technology or take a break, it will be affordable to be wired in at all times.
When we look at the future of Transhumanism, many of us see it as voluntary rather than mandatory.
However, young people are evolving into humans that augment their bodies to make the marriage of man and machine inevitable.