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Machine Hand

Nobody gonna beat my car
It’s gonna break the speed of sound
Oooh it’s a killing machine
(Hard Rock, 1971)

People, also known as Humans (also known as Homo Sapiens) have been afraid of machines conquering the world for a while. Science fiction writers, Hollywood movie directors, crazy pseudo-scientists, philosophers and lay people alike have been thrilled by and scared of the idea that The Machines, also known as Robots (also known as Artificial Intelligence) one day would conquer the world.   

It’s not that The Machines cared that much, all of a sudden started acting as humans and outsmarted our species. Not at all. Not yet. Everything is much easier. We The People increasingly started to act as Them The Machines, the very objects of our creation.

In professional lives, and not only there, many of our tribesmen and women no longer need such qualities as compassion, critical thinking, understanding in the human sense of the word, and more so — the Organic Intelligence, development of which made us who we are today. Or rather who we were not long ago.

Humans of many professions are reduced to a computer algorithm, a “runtime environment” that needs to execute predefined steps, actions and the logic in between. Such algorithms are “loaded” into organic minds and this is called training. Better training. Worse training. But in essence, this is how someone otherwise known as human, quickly becomes a part, a small “gear” in a big machine. The Machine. Servicing it to support his own survival without even realizing this, for his critical thinking (at times all thinking) is switched off.

You go to McDonalds, Starbucks, Arby’s, fast-junk chain of your choice — they are all the same to my taste — and who do you interact with? Or rather with what? Do you want number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or, the best choice of the day, number 8? Try to ask these people how to cook food. Good luck! Can this be automated? Absolutely! But there’s no need. It’s already automated. The Machine has some organic parts that are just cheaper to maintain and operate. Time may change this equilibrium, and it probably will.

You go to CVS, Walgreens or any other legal drug dealing outlet of your choice — they are all the same to me — and who do you interact with? Exactly. Algorithms. Trained machines. Perhaps, their “runtime” is much more sophisticated than in McDonalds, and the service itself costs a great deal more (a way too much!) but it’s the same in principle. You have better chances to be understood talking to an ATM, explaining in detail the ups and downs of your current financial situation.

Doctors. The most noble profession we can think of. Saving lives. Fighting diseases. Alleviating pain. Doing miracles. But The Machine doesn’t stop even here. Many are trained and carefully crafted by the legal and economic environment to act as a “runtime”, loaded by years and years worth of terabytes of instructions. Indeed, there’s flexibility within the rules, but this is a dangerous path and it’s best not to take it. Better be safe than sorry. Patients — all these humans with their emotions, bodily and psychological problems? Ahhh, they’ll be OK. Doctors are not gods, after all. Lawyers will be OK too.

Teachers. The people who make the most valuable good of all — education. The people who help other people to become more human. But wait! The System takes away subjectivity, and as a result, the personality of the teacher with it, out of the equation. It’s The Machine that teaches the young gears to be productive, efficient and successful. Standard multiple-choice tests. Number 1, 2 or 3? All? None of the above? You are expected to answer according to the script. Step left, step right — you fail. Your «runtime» doesn’t fit in — you’re out. It doesn’t matter what you really know. The Machine cannot detect this. Humans can. Simple human conversation one-on-one can. Better to say, could. But that’s outdated, unmodern, inefficient, soon to be illegal.

Technology is the answer! Yeah, right. You call customer support. Who do you talk to first? A robot pretending to sound like a human. For new accounts press 1, for existing customers press 2, for technical support press 3, to repeat these options again press 9. And so on. If you are lucky, you can trick The System with the magic words “agent please” but wait: when a human being picks up the phone, you’ll hear much the same speech, premade, very legally accurate and equally useless. You’re better off reading their website to get the same answers, saving your time and their money.

Forget work. Relax. Casual polite conversations. Endless smalltalk. Smile, smile! How are you doing? (number 1) I am doing good! And you? (number 2). Very well, thank you! (number 3) Great! (number 4). Football, cats and dogs, weather, the every unpredictable stock market. Yellow press and details of the personal lives of the people you don’t know. Oh, wow! A war or two. Make Freedom Great Again.

How do you want to be entertained? Please choose number 1 for Drama, number 2 for Action, number 3 for Sports, number 4 for Family-oriented. It’s all the same, all the same. It’s all insane, all insane. The Machine is taking your spare time, feeding you with fake colors, fake sounds and fake emotions. Just don’t think. Come on! Have fun. Don’t be a philosopher.

If you are “lucky” to talk to the police, these exemplars of compassion and understanding with hard logic built-in (and the harder the better) who are supposed to serve and protect us the humans, you’ll quickly realize the choices of McDonalds are a way better and numerous (compared to the choice of one).

Most of us don’t see in action The Military, these fully automated organic beings, the strongest of the “gears” running in powerful unison, protecting all of us in words (yeah, right!), and servicing Big Politics in deeds (Sir, Yes, Sir!). Don’t argue with those. Just don’t. Work hard and pay your share to support. Be proud.

The mechanical shield between you and anyone on the top controlling The Machine is ever strong. Do these people exist? Are they humans in the traditional sense of this word, just like the rest of us? Or worse: do the rest of us still possess basic human qualities, or we too, all of us, have become the “gears” of The Machine, and those who don’t fit in will break or be broken?

Time after time you run into the wall of human unintelligence. At some point you simply give up. Your logic suggests this is the best case scenario. You can’t beat ATM because its steel cover and 32-bit processing capacity are no match for your human sensitivities. The law and the gun in the hands of a policemen are stronger than the books you may have read, thoughts you may have thought, to say nothing about the feelings you may still feel.

And the sooner you give up the better, for the very simple fact: they don’t understand you. They are not supposed to. Machines don’t possess such qualities you do. They are not trained for that and their runtime has not such algorithms. Truth to be told: they are trained to smile and repeat the nice words “excuse me”, “sorry”, “for your own safety”, “my apologies”, “you have the right to remain silent”.

What is The Machine? Is it a web of mechanical creatures with a mind of its own, vividly displayed in the movie The Matrix (leave aside the commercials: 1 for Caddilac, 2 for Ducati, 3 for Ray Ban) destined to destroy the human race? Or is it a mental construct in our biological minds, evil of inevitability of our own development? Where is it? Why does it make people to act like re-programmable predictable automatons? Or maybe it’s a cloud above us all, a mental shadow that blinds each and everyone of us? These questions may soon be considered blasphemous, if not outright illegal. But before:

(Drums and fanfares)

We the Machines of the Land, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the Machine Hand.

(More drums and fanfares. Fireworks!)