Dr. Ian Bogost says we’re already living inside a computer
Funding technology takes so much money from the federal budget and our pockets. So why are industry leaders Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates simultaneously spending so much money against it? On Monday, March 27, Dr. Ian Bogost — author, philosopher, video designer and tech expert — discussed the implications of today’s technology in his lecture “You Are Already Living inside a Computer.”
The singularity hypothesis states that “human intellect will become machine intelligence,” Bogost said. This theory is just one of many that predicts the future of technology.
The theory predicts that by 2030-2050, computers will replace humans, though perhaps not so in the dystopian sense. By then, maybe we’ll be able to link our consciences to a computer, lending “a ticket to immortality,” Bogost said.
Though the word “predict” is used to describe the effects of this running theory, Bogost urged the audience to use it in the past tense; the singularity hypothesis predicted the future of technology.
“This is not where people thought we’d end up,” Bogost said.
“Being a computer” means something different now than it did in the 1950s when Adam Turing was a pioneering computer science.
“Computers are no longer just transceivers of data,” Bogost said. “They are a visualizer and actualizer of information.”
Two examples are GasWatch, which is a Bluetooth meter that digitizes how much gas remains in your propane tank, and Ring Video Doorbell, which allows you to answer and see who is at your door on your smartphone. GasWatch and Ring are just two of the products featured on the Twitter account “Internet of Sh*t,” Bogost jested.
And there’s rhyme to the reason. Or, more appropriately, rhyme to that Twitter handle.
“These devices are superfluous,” Bogost said. These products solve problems that already have solutions cheaper than the devices.
Even more unnecessarily, they also compromise reliability. They require internet and carry massive privacy and security issues.
However, day-by-day, demand for these devices increases. People want products like GasWatch—over a $5 propane tank gauge, for example. Why?
“Computing is a lifestyle,” Bogost said. “The computational aspects of ordinary things has become a goal into itself, rather than a means to an end.”
In other words, computers have more than absorbed the attention of humans, and we continue to want more of them. They have “so effectively persuaded us to move our lives inside of them,” Bogost said. “We have developed an intense affection for things simply because they are computerized.
Bogost wrote an article for The Atlantic in 2012 titled “The Cigarette of this Century” about the cell phone.
Everyone has a smartphone and is truly addicted to one, as was the case for cigarettes in the mid-20th century.
The question we have yet to find out, though, is if the two items, similar in popularity and nurturing of dependency, will have a similarly fatal effect.
However, even with this analogy, Bogost’s intention wasn’t to generate fear.
“The real function of science fiction wasn’t to predict the future, but to allegorize the present,” Bogost said.
By allegorizing the present, we can look at our
reality. It is then that we can decide if we are content with the road
computation is leading us, or if we desire change—seeing overwhelming cons to
the computerized world.