BY CAZ WALLACE
The best laid plans of mice and men… and Henry Bemis… the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis… in the Singularity.*
I’ve been working with the book The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil for a couple weeks now. Im quite taken with the idea and I’m hopeful to tease out a comparison between the Singularity as described in this work and Rosi Braidotti’s vitalist take on Zoe, but here are my political mutations so far:
Kurzweil laboriously outlines the means of technological acceleration to argue a completely integrated and conscious totality between what was once divided as man and machine, biology and technology, unconscious and conscious. No way around it, this is a religious argument but it doesn’t rely on apocalyptic warnings like that of Elon Musk.
For a few years now I’ve wondered about my conversations with the internet. The predictive and persuasive powers of capitalism presents the internet as an almost messianic prophet, offering me the products I didn’t even know I wanted or needed through absorbing my causal conversations and stoned internet searches.
I like playing with random generators and sabian oracles and I stop myself when I drift toward wondering if my habits are resolutely OCD tendencies or a little secret communion with powers above or beyond. My eyes glazed over on the more technical sections of Kurzweil’s book as I comforted myself- I don’t need to understand how it works. I won’t understand how nanobots will be just as much of me as all of me is now because all of these predictions erode into questions of consciousness, of ‘me-ness’ and of life.
Who is there for you when you want to pursue your dreams of owning a house or adopting a puppy dog? Who is there to help you make a pipe bomb or chose a gift for your mom? And who is there when you fear that maybe that little bump down there needs medical attention? We are more honest with our google searches than we are with our closest friends and family. So much of our thought, so much of our own computation and emotion is created through the relationship to a technology currently outside of our own body. Consciousness today does not originate in my brain or the living networks of the internet, it grows from the meeting of these two. Thus, Singularity will occur when there is no lapse in time between the connection of the biological brain and technological networks and no lapse in space between my connection and your connection.
Last week in the news the group Antifa made making headlines, bringing the term anarchy back with it. It seems like any ‘leftist’ organization that engages in violence gets labeled as anarchic without much thought or cause. I agree with Chomsky’s critique that blocking talks provides further gas for the alt-left’s fire and I posture further that blocking any communication is itself a fascist act. I can’t imagine what kind of hate has been uttered under breath at local watering holes all across america since the beginning of this country. Is private hate talk more or less perversive that public? Which one betrays the notions of freedom more? As of now there’s no way to monitor what is thought and spoken in any sphere but it seems like type of controls will be upon us before we know it. Free speech isn’t pretty but we must defend it as free and your personal morals have no place in this discussion.
I bring this contemporary political debate up in regards to Singularity because both Anarchism and Singularity represent a lack of distance between with is thought and what is. As we approach Singularity with a pace exponentially quickening we can begin to recognize it as definitely decentralized and formless, much like Speculative Anarchy as termed by the Ecosophists. Singularity and Speculative Anarchy go beyond power and the ability rule and define because more than that, it’s what is, what is existence- and that is still unknown… Both concepts must grow from ceaseless speculation or else they will succumb to fascism.
Debates on cybernetics, new ethics of technology and the questions of what is conscious, what is human, should employ the techniques of Speculative Anarchism to carve a non-fascist future, yet speculation paralyzes. Before you can reach a conclusion, whether it be philosophical or political, you are forced to return to the questions that founded your ability to question in the first place. Is it possible that being locked in the debate is the only way through avoiding the pitfalls of fascism? Is it’s everyone’s personal will to decide between confusion or subjugation? At least until that decision is finally made for you? What does the desire to be anti-fascist and conscious actually produce? Must it negate action?
We must begin now to defend Singularity from future fascisms using Speculative Anarchy. Consciousness is at stake. The challenge herein lies to define what Speculative Anarchy is and what it means for political activity in the United States today.
What has man deeded to himself?
These are the terms of the race to which not an inch is meant to be gained.
*Quote is taken from the concluding narration from season 1, episode 8 of Twilight Zone entitled Time Enough At Last. I have inserted Singularity where Twilight Zone was spoken.