On the periphery of disaster

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By BRÁULIO M. RODRIGUES*

Technology is unavoidable, it remains for human development to make it as organic as it is solidary in the care and creation of the human to come

At the beginning of Peripherals, the romance cyberpunk by William Gibson, the future of Earth's periphery is shamelessly depicted: “Not a city, the curators had insisted, but an incremental sculpture. More appropriately, a ritualistic object. Gray, translucent and slightly yellowish, its substance recovered in the form of particulates suspended from the top of the water column of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. With an estimated weight of 3 million tons that did not stop growing, it floated perfectly, it was maintained by segmented bladders, each one the size of a large airport of the previous century”.

The reason for ecological disaster – whether in the book or in the news – comes from the exploitation of natural resources as a function of necessity in the extraction of commodities for the mass production of electronic devices of all kinds, ironically, peripherals. Gibson's future isn't much different from the present. According to Yuval Harari, virtual alienation and the gamification of culture are already under way in the abusive use of screens and digital media as means of happiness and numbness of the harsh and raw reality that shines in the light of the South.

It is not necessary to go so far as to cite the case of hikikomori in Japan – young people who decide to give up a social life and live in their rooms with companions generated by artificial intelligence. In a sense, all of us inhabitants of the Anthropocene already live apart from the world. The pandemic, isolation, confinement and suffocation of breathable air bubbles are just the most serious signs that the health of nature is not going well, phenomena such as deforestation and the extinction of species have been around for centuries, the cry and the protest of environmentalists for decades and there's no saying we weren't warned.

Now, as health systems collapse, economics and health care are suddenly invoked as complementary. “The economy cannot stop” repeat all fascists around the world. It remains to be seen, in what world did they live until today when the same undervalued work they defended cost the planet and people without assistance a project of life with dignity? The reason for starting this text with an excerpt from the literature cyberpunk it is clear, in all novels of this genre the democratization of technology coexists with absolute inequality. Remember of Blade Runner with its skyscrapers full of lights and its streets full of garbage. Not only does economic inequality intensify, but also social and evolutionary inequality. Or rather, those who can afford it will have the best body and mind the market can offer, and that's already the case. And not only that, the man gives way to the cyborg. He implants the machine in himself and uses the android (the whole machine) for his pleasure. The android is more of a control device programmed to obey without hesitation.

Therefore, it is as abject as it is curious when a political leader asks citizens for the civic gesture of dying for their country and his speech is repeated by a series of bots. Science fiction and reality are intertwined. Are we already androids encoded daily by technopolitical devices tracking and implementing our existential preference algorithms? Are we already at the service of these cyborgs who have the privilege of having the political and structural machinery of the human under their control? Could it be that this so-called war against the virus does not hide an ulterior war demarcated between class boundaries and the limits of the assimilation of technology in humans?

Yuval Harari also said that the future holds the emergence of a new class: the useless. Despite the recognition that should be reserved for the intellectual, I must warn that the naivety of this diagnosis is at odds with the rest of his critical work. There are not and cannot be any useless items in a consumer society. What there is is a paradigm shift in the sense of “production”. Who currently produces the most are influencers and digital activists, it is no coincidence that they are the first to be co-opted by and for politics. They are the programmers of the social architecture and the arrangements between classes. What today can be understood as a mere gesture of procrastination and deep play how to join a community online, should be understood from the outset as a political act. An online community is a welcoming space and horde that arises as a result of an original banishment, those who enter there seek in the virtual what they did not find in the real.

There is nothing intrinsically harmful in the lightness brought by technology, see the possibility of connecting with non-native people and places. The problem of lightness is to despise the psychopolitical cost for the effectiveness of these suspensions. The exiled human does not see the chainsaw cut the tree, many times he does not even hear the cry coming from the corner. You don't know or have experience with the world beyond your home, often you don't even know beyond your air-conditioned room. O homo sapiens luxus is immersed in speculations of trivialities and affections objectified by reification schemes nourished, in large part, either by identity movements or even digital militias, from different political spectrums, that try to coordinate the singularities around a common cause: the infowar.

As natural as the phenomenon of association is, when we talk about the political animal, we are also talking about the recognition of its nativist origin, which means that violence occurs before any identity, violence is the result of the preservation of a space of power . When our spaces of power are deterritorialized, it is not difficult to see that many struggles will be in vain and we will only serve as cannon fodder for a war of places. It is this war that we are living today, a cybernetic war whose digital militias reverberate hate speeches and generalized social confusion for android soldiers ready to march towards the abyss of “maximization of natural resources”. It is not just about hyper-militancy or cancel culture, the most radical alienation that is in sight with the networks is the right to housing and coexistence.

We, inhabitants of the periphery of the Earth, already know what it is like to have our natives turned into fuel and our springs into sewage for the price of building villages with the same design of the metropolises. It is not a matter of collecting the rich countries' historic debt to poor countries, there is no time for that now. It is more urgent to collaborate and use networks as a means of cooperation and strengthening of global health systems in their most essential fronts: health, security and education. As Peter Sloterdijk points out, it is time for a General Declaration of Universal Dependency. Not just an ethical-legal document, but an ecographic responsibility (ecological and human) with the birth rate and future generations in all their diversity of species and life forms.

If the XNUMXth century brought us the Enlightenment and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen shouted for the rights to freedom and property, if the XNUMXth century and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contributed to the positivization of the right to life as a complex formed both for individual rights and for social rights such as culture and leisure, the XNUMXst century must go further and ensure a General Declaration of Universal Dependency where abolitionism must overcome any attempt at imprisonment and media slavery on the human. Equality and freedom will only be universal rights in the XNUMXst century if an environment conditioned and conditioned to the self-extraction of the potential of human singularities is as comprehensive as the blue sky and nature is finally recognized as a subject of rights. Until then, we will only have more material available for other narratives of the cyberpunk-noir, this futurism that reflects on segregation with allegories of technological predativism. As Donna Haraway argues, technology is unavoidable, it remains for human development to make it as organic as it is solidary in the care and creation of the human to come.

*Bráulio M. Rodrigues is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy of Law at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).

References


GIBSON, W. The Peripheral. Berkley: New York, 2015.

HARARI, Y. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. New York: Vintage, 2017.

HARAWAY, D. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke, 2016.

SLOTERDIJK, P. Peter Sloterdijk: “The return to frivolity will not be easy”. Ana Carbajosa. The country. Available in:

 

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