The Myth of Progress is Dead?


About 25 years ago I heard a very wise man assert that the myth of progress is dead. Sorry if I didn't manage to inform the rest of the world. Progress is the new leisure it seems. Like the sharks, if we're not swimming, we're sinking. Going where, who knows? Just going. Or, as the priests, politicians, and marketersthose mafia of the soulendlessly promise . . . a better tomorrow.

When the sad news was announced that Steve Jobs had died, there was an avalanche of praise for him as a visionary, the truly enlightened modern day genius renaissance business man. Visionary, or compulsive driven enabler to a culture systemically habituated to consuming gadgets provided by an engine of progress defined in terms of cranking out ever new means of self absorption and distraction? (Too soon?)

The myth of progress got a shot in the arm with the promise of "data". All of it. Faster and faster. Tailored by some smart aleck kid's algorithm so you can even now get the information sifted, sorted then served to you based on what a subset of people like you will want to know.

Beware the algorithm. Don't say I didn't tell you.

Now there's an ancillary myth, the myth of data. It's basically the idea that all we need to sort things out and have the life we dream of is to have all the data, the right data, the timely data, the correct data. Information is power. In the dream. If you earnestly want to improve on the dream you may be a piece of human green fruit too young too soon to even suspect that you might be asleep. It may be a nice, even beautiful dream; but, chappy, a dream nonetheless.

If only for the rate of acceptance of new technology, we could probably even now be living in a world with implanted devices that threw virtual images in the near visual field that could be manipulated much like what now happens on a hardware screen.

Think about it. Whatever you want. Whatever you need. Just enter what you want to do each day and the algorithm will take you step by step seamlessly and effortlessly through. It's a point and shoot world.

The world leaders will be algorithm developers and their statisticians. Not to worry, they have access to all the data. They will be smart enough. Wise? What's that anyway. It's all in the data.

Smart enough to get down to the really granular. Like that old, still to be nailed-to-the-wall question . . . How many wrinkles in a bull's ass? Come to think about it, there may probably be an app for that already. Bend over. Point, shoot.



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