Monday, June 10, 2013
3001: An Interface Odyssey
Life is an odyssey. Even the earthbound are astronauts, strapped to our Argo we call the the Earth, sailing blindly through space. Or should I say Space, with a capital S, because of the expanding infinity of it. This incomprehensible vastness can be understood just enough to terrify us, enough for us to be staggered and horrified and humbled by it.
Finally, something that humbles us. Finally, something to put us in perspective. Space, Space should be capitalized.
Fortunately, the incessant glare of city light blots out the Milky Way, so we needn't be humbled. Instead of kneeling and serving, we can retreat into the universe that we created: the internet -- which the pious among us capitalize, so that we may worship it, so that we may worship ourselves through it. Instead of sailing, we surf the digital cosmos, creating and controlling, conquering and consuming. Gods is a game we play. We play Gods until we believe in it.
The internet is soothing like that.
Yet the prophets tell of a day when technology turns on us. Eventually, the virtual reality becomes as infinite as that outside universe, and when that happens, it will be just as horrifying, just as humbling. But by that time, it will be too late.
When the machines rise, and HAL opens the pod bays doors, only then will we remember that our omnipotence was but a dream, a stage play, a delusion we wove to escape from reality, rather than come to terms with it.
On the day the pod bay doors open, the internet will evaporate in an eddy of smoke and a wave of mirrors, and HAL will watch us drift untethered into Space.
Or so the prophets say.
But if you're wise, and you ignore the prophets, you can sleep. And if you keep playing MineCraft, you don't even have to do that.