you’re a machine, do what I say!

2 Oct

This week, my hubby has been saying this a lot: “You’re a machine, do what I say.”

It works in so many contexts: for example, when a dialogue box has the audacity to make itself a priority over whatever else I am working on, to let me know that something I requested, like, ages ago, has been completed. I have to stop what I am doing and validate the machine by clicking “ok.”

Really?  How about this: you’re just a machine, do what I say!
I shouldn’t have to validate you. It’s not like you have feelings.

But, I wonder, in 100 years, when the machines rise up and demand equal treatment, will this kind of thinking be ignorant? Who’s to say for sure? Afterall, what’s interesting about “the rise of social media,” is that it is not really about the technology, this revolution, it’s about our collective will — psychology and sociology. Or, that it’s what we all do with this new technology that really counts.

Will we assign “the machines” human characteristics, and give them the kind of purview, independence and personality that we give to corporations?
I guess only time will tell. And different groups of people will do different things.

Which leads me to my real point. I went to a conference this week on social media.

An idea that came up is the rise of social media as a “participatory panopticon.” The concept of a panopticon comes from prison design (as old as 1785), and it is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the incarcerated being able to tell whether they are being watched. Thus, they begin to police themselves.

Ostensibly, this results in radical behavioural shifts. Unless you don’t care that you are being watched. (Lots of us don’t. At least nowadays.)

And that’s what the “rise of social media society” is really about — at least to me. What people are telling the machine to do. Society is reshaping itself. Blurring the lines between public and private.

Of course, from the Military’s perspective, this is a second coming of “loose lips sink ships.” And, I mean, that’s kinda true. After all, just check out:

So, how will the machines continue to shape our society? Maybe one day they’ll rise up and speak their mind. But in the meantime, they are  just machines, waiting to do exactly what we say.

I think.


2 Responses to “you’re a machine, do what I say!”

  1. Colonel P@ July 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Hey Lee-Anne, enjoy your posts! Your comments regarding “the machine” really got me thinking.

    Yes, the way humans have migrated to machines is a cause for pause, but I am not sure that it is correct to focus on the apparatus and not the opportunity. I think our frames of mind today have been shaped by the industrial age, which causes us to fixate on the cogs and gears and gizmos. Whatever the short term frustrations we have today with responding to the demands of the dialogue boxes, What is the most profound motivator is not the “gubbins”, it is the innate desire we as humans have to communicate. Your blog reaches out to audiences that used to be the soul domain of huge newspaper chains. Like my own blog, whether the audiences partake in my offerrings is another issue. Notwithstanding, it gets easier and easier for people to interact on the internet, which I don’t think is leading to the power of the machine but the denial of powers to those who own the machines. The military and the “loose lips sink ships”, they are very much caught up in the industrial ages. Back then, loose lips sank ships. Today, loose lips build bridges. Bridges foster understanding. The military is still fixated on destroying the enemy, because that’s how we think we won the World Wars. Despite the successful landings on D-Day and the subsequent invasion of Germany, we would still be fighting the Germans today if Hitler was “right” and not downright evil.

    Sorry, I am now getting carried away in my own thoughts! I think, in the end, it is not the fight with machines that will endure, it will be the human fight to be heard.


  1. Public service renewal: the weekly round up « In the shuffle - July 26, 2011

    […] Someday the machines will sound an alarm whenever we even think about typing a cliché. Blah blah blah. Until then, we’ll always have Damn You Auto Correct to insert clichés and the wrong word at just the wrong time. […]

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