July 26th, 2010

S.C. Hickman

Mind Control: Nanotech, Biocomputers, and Tyranny?

"Human-machine integration is one of the world’s fastest growing areas of research, the potential for abuse, violation and humiliation of human beings is enormous."
                                - MindTech Sweden

John Markoff in the NY Times recently took up the theme of a global emergence of Artificial Intelligence in his article the Coming Superbrain. Many futurologists have dreamed of a utopian movement toward collective intelligence. Such social prophets as Jeremy Rifkin have been proselytizing for a new "empathic civilization", one that presents a counter-narrative that allows humanity to see itself as an extended family living in a shared and interconnected world, one opposed to the dominate ideology of neoliberal and neoconservative globalist visions (see this...) Others such as Pierre Levy formed a teleological view of this movement of technological progress toward collective intelligence - a conscious biobrainsphere ... a cosmic brain that will bloom like an infinite flower made of love." He even went so far as prophesying that collective intelligence would form the nucleous of a 'religion of the future', one that would fulfill humanities mission of growing a 'global brain' aware of itself. Such measures of fantasy spark other new age prophets like Raymond Kurzweil into visions of a posthuman transcension through the fusion of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics wherein humans will merge with their machines and become something else... homo futuras?

With all these grand visions of a posthuman future around us one wonders what will happen to those poor souls who will be left behind to work the soil, plant the seeds, grow the crops, and live out their lives in a wasteland of urban and social decay. It seems the new global elite plan on transcending the limits not only of Capital, but of the very truth of embodied existence as well. Yet, will they do this in a benign fashion, or will they as all elites in times past use their new found power to enslave the rest of humanity in an even more dystopic nightmare of control and power?

In Sweden a new group is investigating the abuse of power by both corporate and government in experimentation on the populace.Mind Control Of course such conspiracy based theories have been brought forward many times, but none has begun to legitimize the critical process as much as these mavericks. Their study of the new brain technologies in alliance with surveillance in the new military-industrial complex should be on the forefront of any worthwhile oppositional critics agenda.
S.C. Hickman

The Critical Act of Study: Paulo Freire

"To study is not to consume ideas, but to create and re-create them."
          - Paulo Freire, The Act of Study

In The Politics of Education: Culture, Power and Liberation Paulo Freire provides a unique set of criteria for developing a critical posture in the act of study:

a) The reader should assume the role of subject of the act.
b) The act of study, in sum, is an attitude toward the world.
c) Studying a specific subject calls for us, whenever possible, to be familiar with a given bibliography, in either a general subject or the area of our ongoing inquiry.
d) The act of study assumes a dialectical relationship between reader and author, whose reflections are found with the themes he treats.
e) The act of study demands a sense of modesty.

This sums up an accurate description of my critical approach in study. Especially the "modest" apprehension of challenging texts. As he says, "if we really assume a modest attitude compatible with a critical attitude, we need not feel foolish when confronted with even great difficulties in trying to discern a deeper meaning from a text.... Understanding a text isn't a gift from someone else. It requires patience and commitment..."