[NetBehaviour] On the disaster of the future planet now

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Nov 24 21:01:59 CET 2006

On the disaster of the future planet now

..."If one person, sane to a degree, may be found willing and ready to
sacrifice his life and the life of others, for his beliefs in the now
and hereafter, the world is doomed."

..."And yet it is a commonplace among us that the swarm of men and women
shall bring the scythe to bear on all others who covet not the truth."

The Cusp of Information, a continuing digression

The plethora of the world, its fecundity (potential for production of
organism and information) is at its maximum. Future knowledge will no
longer be at the beck and call of its past; if anything, it will be vastly
reduced as power grids collapse, desertifications and extinctions set in.
What I am writing now, what you are writing, has no chance for survival.
Records, archives, require potential wells which become more and more
difficult to maintain in environments which are increasingly adverse. If
we are headed towards any singularity, it is the collapse of the Sememe,
the disappearance of universals as the world turns towards isolated and
violent localizations. Think of the chains of supply and demand that
produce for example this computer - chains that span continents as a
result of research and sterile laboratories that construct the truth-value
of the isolated molecule or atom. All this disappears in the maelstrom of
disease, inundation, mafia and gang rule, suicide bombers, new forms of
terrorism still undreamed. The Internet provides a convenient model;
created within regimes of relative trust and open communication in spite
of the cold war, it now proves so leaky that Usenet is rendered useless;
the ratio of spam to personalized email is probably four or five to one;
hackers continue to bring down data-bases, operating systems, and hardware
for fun and profit; communality creates hundreds of distributed and
problematic best friends; and what's left of the Net can just as easily
(perhaps more easily) be used by criminal organizations, however defined,
than by the rest of us. Packets or no packets, without the power grid,
without wireless or functioning computers, perhaps without broadband, what
passes for transparent information will become bottle-necked, hopelessly
entangled, dysfnctional; one can imagine ghost-mail for example, ghost-
sites passing for the "real thing" which no longer exists. And it's no
longer true that technology will save us (it never was), that the ruin of
the world will revert to universal efflorescence; temperature rise is
fast-forward, and whatever changes might bring back a temporarily sustain-
able equilibrium will take tens of thousands of years at best. The Sahara
for example is nowhere near greening, and what's lost in the Amazon - a
premonition of information in general - remains lost. "There's no there
there" because the sentence is cut off in mid- sentence with nowhere to
go. Was it Hawking who recently pointed out that humanity's only chance
(forget the rest of the biosphere) is space travel? Shall we take our
problems elsewhere, only to repeat them - to create places defined by
escape velocity, strategies of escape, one from another? And how do we
live with ourselves without the most radical desensitization, objecti-
fication, in relation to the untold and unbelievable suffering we bring to
the remaining animals on the planet? (For as Foreman has pointed out, we
have already done a good job of ridding most of the continents of their
megafauna - Africa is the last to go.) In the future, even our knowledge
of these things will have disappeared, along with the last of the last of
"their" species, of any _other_; without communication pipelines, the
"clean and proper" use of the electromagnetic spectrum, what happens in
one part of the world will remain in that part of the world. Be assured it
will be in ignorance, it will be in violence, permeated by gangs, deeply
religious hysteric. Some few will remain. Information, in the sense used
here, will not, and only its residue, dissolution and chaos, the symbolic
of the broken hard-drive, will remain. (I should add one literally cannot
cope with this, with this second-sight permeated by information, hence
one's tendency towards suicide, which must be continually monitored. Not
that one wants to disappear, voluntarily, from this world, not yet. In any
case, we shall die within the beginning of the worst of it, although who,
then, shall know of that, shall think otherwise? If wisdom is thinking
otherwise, wisdom as well is close to its final site, final citation. One
cannot think otherwise, with so much knowledge, structure, text and sub-
text, at one's disposal.)

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