Musing on what our increasing computerization means, inspired by David Auerbach’s The Stupidity of Computers in issue 13 of n+1. (possibly this DA?)
He sees two pathways:
First, we will bring ourselves to computers. The small- and large-scale convenience and efficiency of storing more and more parts of our lives online will increase the hold that formal ontologies have on us. They will be constructed by governments, by corporations, and by us in unequal measure, and there will be both implicit and explicit battles over how these ontologies are managed. The fight over how test scores should be used to measure student and teacher performance is nothing compared to what we will see once every aspect of our lives from health to artistic effort to personal relationships is formalized and quantified.
We will increasingly see ourselves in terms of these ontologies and willingly try to conform to them. While in the 20th century people came to see themselves as empty existential vessels, without a commitment to any particular internal essence, they will now see themselves as contingently but definitively embodying types derived from the overriding ontologies. This is as close to a solution to the modernist problem of the self as we will get.
Second, we will bring computers to us, not semantically but physically. Computers will be able to interface more and more directly with the real world. They can be embedded into everything: roads, paper, clothing, skin, organs, medicines, food. Computers that are able to absorb the world at a sufficient level of detail—sights, sounds, textures, touches—can begin to construct a model of the world from the ground up, one not based on verbal or logical representation of concepts, but on basic sense data.