Damn. That took way too long, readers, and you have my apologies. I've been embroiled in freelance and day job projects, and the Breaking Time has been neglected in the process. So let's start our return properly, with this piece from Damien Williams on the latest manifestation of the urge to smash everything.
The aftermath of an Aug. 8, 2011 attack that wounded two professors at Monterey Tec. Individuals Tending Towards Savagery claimed responsibility. Their statement, if you can bear to read it, is translated here.
I've spent the last few months trying to lay the groundwork for a better world. That's a bit pompous. What I've really been doing is sitting around writing about the philosophical problems of cybernetics and cyborging, and relating them to various television shows, because I firmly believe that people can be made to see more than the potential terror of technology if they can see it in entertainment and then made to think about it.
So the real world comes along to remind me what I'm actually up against, out here: The Group known as "Individuals Tending Toward Savagery" (and isn't that just a fantastically uplifting, human-centric name?) has claimed responsibility for the 2011 shooting death of Dr Ernesto Méndez, a leader in the field of biotechnology, and they've promised more of the same, and worse, for any nano- or biotech experts who continue to do work in the field.
All of this death and terror to try to prevent the fabled Grey Goo Scenario which has been inimical to nanotechnology since it became known to the public imagination. Now, the nature of these "anarchists" seems to more be one of posturing and half-tactics, rather than what many would claim a "credible threat"-- their claims of responsibility are spotty, while their threats are many and varied-- but that doesn't mean they aren't stepping up their game.
And for what? To scare people into a Luddite fear of technological advancement? To act as a reactionary, loom-smashing gestapo- boogeyman? What's gained by this? What in these tactics and aims makes this world a better place?
I'm reminded of Warren Ellis' Global Frequency, and the story "Detonation." In it, a terrorist group (caveat: terrorists are not necessarily anarchists, nor vice versa) called the Red Right Hand seeks to devolve the world into a state of constant war, because the leader believes that it is only when we're at war that we reach our full potential. Or some utter bollocks like that.
You see, that line of thinking makes a valid argument. That is, if its premises were true, then its conclusion would necessarily follow. But what people always forget about the difference between validity and soundness is that validity doesn't make the premises true. "All aliens are secretly Jewish people and every Jewish person has a personal golem with them at all times. This is why I demand to see the Area 51 Records of the two golems recovered in the New Mexico desert in 1947." That is, technically, a perfectly valid argument. And also something I just made up, right now.
My point is this: what is it about smashing looms that makes people think we'll be better off? What is it about pure destruction that people tend to prefer to the work of creating and destroying, at the same time? Is it just that change is scary? Because, let me tell you, we've known that for about 10,000 years, so it's not exactly a startling revelation.
I only ask because it seems like the far better option would be to try to learn and understand as much about technology as possible, and then take all that loom-smashy energy and put it toward grassroots education of the wider culture. Make the real dangers and real benefits known to the whole world, and teach people how to not just blindly react to new tech.
Because this is a blind reaction. This is just fear on more fear on more fear. I don't see the world being better after this, I see it being more terrified. What's the point of that?