“ One day you’ll be blind like me. You’ll be sitting here, a speck in the void, in the dark, forever, like me. One day you’ll say to yourself, I’m tired, I’ll sit down, and you’ll go and sit down. Then you’ll say, I’m hungry, I’ll get up and get something to eat. But you won’t get up. You’ll say, I shouldn’t have sat down, but since I have I’ll sit on a little longer, then I’ll get up and get something to eat. But you won’t get up and you won’t get anything to eat.You’ll look at the wall a while, then you’ll say, I’ll close my eyes, perhaps have a little sleep, after that I’ll feel better, and you’ll close them. And when you open them again there’ll be no wall any more. Infinite emptiness will be all around you, all the resurrected dead of all the ages wouldn’t fill it, and there you’ll be like a little bit of grit in the middle of the steppe. Yes, one day you’ll know what it is, you’ll be like me, except that you won’t have anyone with you, because you won’t have had pity on anyone and because there won’t be anyone left to have pity on you. ”
“ Repetition is an exercise often stuck in the present. Its anticipatory action lends itself to habit and is rarely intended to inspire a keener sense of awareness or personal agency. For these reasons, all reenactments are repetitions, but few repetitions become reenactments. ”
Benjamin Bratton, a professor of visual arts at the University of California, San Diego, has an astrophysicist friend who made a pitch to a potential donor of research funds. The pitch was excellent but he failed to get the money because, as the donor put it, ‘You know what, I’m gonna pass because I just don’t feel inspired … you should be more like Malcolm Gladwell.’ Gladwellism – the hard sell of a big theme supported by dubious, incoherent but dramatically presented evidence – is the primary Ted style. Is this, wondered Bratton, the basis on which the future should be planned? To its credit, Ted had the good grace to let him give a virulently anti-Ted talk to make his case. ‘I submit,’ he told the assembled geeks, ‘that astrophysics run on the model of American Idol is a recipe for civilisational disaster.’
"Bratton is not anti-futurology like me; rather, he is against simple-minded futurology. He thinks the Ted style evades awkward complexities and evokes a future in which, somehow, everything will be changed by technology and yet the same. The geeks will still be living their laid-back California lifestyle because that will not be affected by the radical social and political implications of the very technology they plan to impose on societies and states. This is a naive, very local vision of heaven in which everybody drinks beer and plays baseball and the sun always shines.
"The reality, as the revelations of the National Security Agency’s near-universal surveillance show, is that technology is just as likely to unleash hell as any other human enterprise. But the primary Ted faith is that the future is good simply because it is the future; not being the present or the past is seen as an intrinsic virtue.
"Bratton, when I spoke to him, described some of the futures on offer as ‘anthrocidal’ – indeed, Kurzweil’s singularity is often celebrated as the start of a ‘post-human’ future. We are the only species that actively pursues and celebrates the possibility of its own extinction.”