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The Age of Robots

In a long-gone era, university was a place to go to discuss, grow your hair and smoke weed. The widely encouraged pursuit of these (probably inter-related) activities is a relic of a golden age of higher education; one in which people explored. It was a time to find out what you wanted, and how you could go about getting it.

Things have changed. Now, it seems most of us are told what we want. A culture of individualism, which did not exist at the time our parents were at university, has tacitly exploded.

Ironically, this culture of individualism has made us all rather homogenous. Robots zoom from library to gym, from gym to bed, and from bed to lectures. All are chasing the same thing: credentials.

Being told what you want, rather than deciding what you want, means that many exist in a bizarre double life.

An internship in finance, a first, an athletic physique. The checklist goes on.

Being told what you want, rather than deciding what you want, means that many exist in a bizarre double life. As we find ourselves bogged down by incessant pressure to do what we should, as opposed to what we want, we are often distanced from our true selves.

Even relaxation becomes a unit of time, premeditated and forced.

In George Orwell’s Burmese Days, Flory bemoans the constraints imposed by the colonial order: ‘It is a world in which every word and every thought is censored… even friendship can hardly exist when every white man is a cog in the wheels of despotism… you are not free to think for yourself’.

Do we live under a similar regime?

The robot is solely focused on fulfilling the modern prophecy: things that do not contribute to the overarching goal are pointless. Agenda underpins everything. Even relaxation becomes a unit of time, premeditated and forced.

And in my book, that’s pretty pointless. Sometimes I reckon everyone would be happier if we spent less time caring about things we don’t care about. But we won’t, because we can’t.

Rob Moher

@RobertMoher

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Image: Crystl (Flickr)

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