CHAPTER EIGHT Buckle Up
…Buckle up: these are the coming times, and they are herding us directly and deliberately towards the main target: the ‘Internet of Bodies’, in which we begin to merge, finally, with the machines we have made. Microchip brain implants —‘human enhacements’ which will allow us to ‘interface’ directly with the web—will be with us sooner than we think: their development is currently being funded by, among others, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. The Royal Society, Britain’s premier league scientific thinktank, can’t contain its excitement about the possibilities they will offer:
Linking human brains to computers using the power of artificial intelligence could enable people to merge the decision-making capacity and emotional intelligence of humans with the big data processing power of computers, creating a new and collaborative form of intelligence. People could become telepathic to some degree, able to converse not only without speaking but without words—through access to each others’ thoughts at a conceptual level. Not only thoughts, but experiences, could be communicated from brain to brain.
But D. H. Lawrence knew: all the prophets knew. The Earth cannot be reset. Not by us; not ever.
They talk of the triumph of the machine,
but the machine will never triumph.
Out of the thousands and thousands of centuries of man
the unrolling of ferns, white tongues of the acanthus lapping at the sun,
for one sad century
machines have triumphed, rolled us hither and thither,
shaking the lark’s nest till the eggs have broken.
Shaken the marshes, till the geese have gone
and the wild swans flown away singing the swan-song at us.
Hard, hard on the earth the machines are rolling,
but through some hearts they will never roll.
—Author poet Paul Kingsnorth, Abbey of Misrule