Computing, the greatest invention of our time, it is said, never ceases to disappoint. We will see that this is not completely true and that we must understand why. But let’s start with the obvious disappointment.
Information technology is generally disappointing: economists are desperate to see that its diffusion has coincided for half a century with the disappearance of “productivity gains” in developed economies, as if its tools, computers, laptops, internet, were useless “productive”, that is to say truly useful. The processing of information is faster, certainly, but that does not improve the information itself.
IT disappoints in detail and the list goes on. The computer is from the beginning an imperfect device launched before being totally infallible and it is, by construction, constantly infested with “bugs”. Generations follow one another by adding technological layers on top of each other, creating hypercomplex devices that consume more and more power to self-manage their own past and over which computer scientists have very quickly lost control of the whole. Everything would have to be replaced, just as we simply change cars, but that would cause a kind of stroke for the whole of society.
Setback. IT disappoints for its reversals and its excesses. Turnaround for social networks. They were born as a promise of a planetary agora on which all humanity will have free access to knowledge and discussion. They have become places of hatred and insults and, mixing everything together, they lower knowledge to beliefs in a great decline of humanism. The progenitors of this initially libertarian system now flee it, horrified, and remain only the exploiters of the seam of the brutalization of the masses.
The drifts abound. The Current Crypto Crash is, it is the case to say it, the last avatar. The miracle invention is the blockchain, a technique for stamping information, described by its promoters as indelible and traceable. It must be able to serve as a stamp of authenticity for any transaction and, therefore, it can replace the old relic that is the currency, the tool of the States which are themselves institutions of the world before. Farewell dollars, euros and yen! Cryptocurrency is the future of the human race.
What is actually happening is the organization of the plunge of the masses into unreality or, if you prefer, into distraction, in the literal sense
Yes, except that billions of bitcoins have disappeared, been stolen, and the traceability is therefore not so perfect. Besides, drug dealers and other crooks use them to escape the surveillance of the authorities through the banks. Yes, except that the cost of transactions in bitcoins is actually much more expensive than with ancient currencies. Yes, except that the creation of bitcoins, the “mining”, mobilizes thousands of computers which emit the equivalent of the Netherlands of CO2. The carbon trace is very certain and dizzyingly increasing. China, which had welcomed the minors at the start, with the unavowed aim of monitoring all this little world, has since chased them away as too polluting and here they are now in Kazakhstan…
Yes, except that in the end cryptos only represent 0.2% of international transactions, the original invention missed its target. It has since boiled down to immense speculation with no underlying ‘assets’, relying only on newcomers’ faith that they will make money. The collapse we are witnessing today demonstrates that cryptos are just a Ponzi scheme where, as always, the gullible are the payers.
Should we regulate them, in other words corset them? Obviously. And very severely. But, again as always, the money that sparkles is invested in lobbying Washington to avoid it. And to prevent other brilliant inventions such as NFTs or the metaverse from being prohibited, too, from sucking suckers.
E-Gullible. A brand new continent is being discovered, the virtual world, explain our Christopher Columbus. It is to be exploited like the real world: let’s build virtual houses, shops, theatres, beds and fields… Let’s sell all this “construction” and raise prices to attract e-gullible people. And it worked, banks opened branches, luxury houses rushed there, real estate groups dreamed of fortunes… And everyone started dancing around the virtual golden calf.
All this, it must be remembered, as with cryptos, is not based on anything. The virtual universe is not real, even if salespeople tell you it is.
What is actually happening is the organization of the plunge of the masses into unreality or, if you prefer, into distraction, in the literal sense. The attention economy (Bruno Patino), the cognitive apocalypse (Gerald Bronner), describe this plunge as that of ancient Rome in games.
“The effort to think deeply has been reversed into the pleasure of thinking quickly”. And in this context, many more people can express themselves, which allows them to regain their dignity.
So don’t be silly! We are not living the end of the world but the entry into a new era, we must adapt, the better we must anticipate. The constitutive bug of computing marks the passage from the world of square ideas to the world of imperfect tools. Watch how Elon Musk proceeds: finish the calculations in advance of NASA, he carries out rocket tests and he corrects. We are in constant motion. Win the one who is clever. Change of rules: the game of the strong and the scholar becomes the game of skill.
At the same time, do not miss that the game has a reality, that of pleasure. As Alessandro Baricco says (The Game), who advocates this computer revolution, “the effort to think in depth has been reversed into the pleasure of thinking quickly”. And in this context, many more people can express themselves, which allows them to regain their dignity. Hence, incidentally, the success of the populists and the difficulty of the elites in plunging into this world where emotion dominates, where mutiny (yellow vests) rekindles pride, where the truth that convinces must be vibrant, light, fast, effective and if possible, funny.
So, infantilization of the masses or new mental era in which humanity, which has seen others, will be able to settle? It’s up to you to say. Sorry ! It’s your turn.
We would love to thank the writer of this write-up for this outstanding web content
“Cryptos, NFTs, Metaverse… The Historical Deception That Is Computing”. The chronicle of Eric Le Boucher
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