Dangerous Days 02 is about man and machine and our lasting but ever changing relationship. Questions arise which demand an answer or at least discussion and a thought process which prepares us for possible scenarios. How deeply does this affinity between creator and the created effect us and how far does the use of tools date back? Where did the initial spark originate from, lead up to the first crafted item? Was it a tool or a weapon, like Stanley Kubrick proposes in his sci-fi classic “A Space Odyssey 2001”? And what happens as we apply more computing power and AI to already advanced systems? After all, German engineer Konrad Zuse invented the computer solely to ease his job which involved a huge number of calculations. Will high-tech eventually overcome us, like many fear or do we merge with our beloved machines? Erica who is the most advanced communication robot of our time, has been developed by the Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan who I’d like to thank for the image contribution and trust. She can perhaps convince you in a casual conversation that there is nothing to worry about. United Kingdom’s finest, Mr. Grimes Adhesif, produced this part’s deep and mysterious, to the point “Robot-Mix”, built on my field recordings.
Motion pictures such as “Westworld” (Y. Brynner) or “Terminator” (A. Schwarzenegger) suggest that the machines we might soon be able to produce, will gain self-awareness and eventually turn against us. I find this to be a rather adventurous thought because after all, what you do with a hammer is what YOU do with it. It’s more important to understand that technological progress has throughout history been abused but also brought into existence, mostly by the military community and greedy industrialists and investment firms. The goal is to push the use of tech to more peaceful and cleaner shores and away from pure profit oriented minds and warlords, to get our star ship back on track and to a sustainable level. We have proven that we can build and construct almost anything by engineering customized tools and with those, unbelievably complex machines. For decades we have been sending robots and droids into the far reaches of our solar system and beyond, to explore for us and find proof of life. Is now perhaps a good time to define what makes a machine a machine and what characterizes life?
Is a city a machine if its gears are living beings alongside constructed matter? How about a company skyscraper, train station or club? Looking at the way we interact with machines of various complexity reveals the already far advanced level of merger. It will most likely never be the machine vs. man scenario but rather the machine = man one and vice versa. Similar to what Fritz Lang describes in “Metropolis” and later on in that century, Kraftwerk did with their electronic music album “Die Menschmaschine”. But if we do in fact create beings who are able to gain self-awareness and a will of their own, it’s advisable to first examine how we have been treating living beings we share this space with so far. Fauna and Flora have been around for quite some time in comparison to us yet we turned out to be an aggressive and shortsighted roommate, extinguishing a larger part of all species within no time. In fact every minority, especially within our own species, is terrorized by the “superiors” which mostly results in exploitation, forced labor and sometimes death.
When talking about tools and machines one does not get around a key question addressing self-reflection and self-awareness. Ever since we painted walls of caves we have been reflecting on ourselves in manifold ways. The purpose of art is not what today’s insane auctions want to make you believe but a much more fundamental human act and we have been devising tools to do so better. Tools became extensions of ourselves and simple variations like the ones crows use to speed up their way to a tasty snack, over time evolved to brushes, pens and paper, the Gutenberg Press and further to very complex machines engineered by a large group of experts. Looking at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), the ISS and the space programs of the nations, the internet and supercomputers, the Shinkansen and countless other inventions cause me to regularly wow. Both, the simple tool as well as the complex machine can trigger affection and even love in a human being. Does it make us gods if we love what we create? And if so, does it render us devils, if we destroy what we hate using technology?
The desire to optimize ourselves, obtain above-average powers, avoid disease and even death is as old as we are. Today the over-proportionally fast growing medical knowledge base propels this aspect to become one of the main topics of our time. The science of our own system is now developing at the same paste as other high-tech fields do, leading to ever longer lifespans. It is only natural that some people try to clone or re-create themselves with seemingly unorthodox methods in order to bypass the inevitable. Does technology and the close integration of it on the physical as well as mental level make an adjusted Moore’s law somehow applicable to human life expectancy calculations? If you live in Okinawa you can expect to turn 115 or 120 if you are in your mid 40’s now. Clearly it’s the extremely healthy diet and calm lifestyle which made this possible and the island famous. But now things are changing also in Okinawa, as junk food and tons of sweets have made their way onto the island, causing obesity and other new health problems. Little did they know that no-one shall dare to fight the sugar industry … it would be like fighting Pablo Escobar.
How much artificial matter in a human body is too much? Where is the threshold rendering someone a Darth Vader? The percentage of artificial matter to boost just looks, can go up to 40% already. You can even choose a face from a catalogue these days and “wear” the same one as hundreds of others do. It gets you closer to your idol who in return makes even more money while increasing the fame factor. Youngsters who spend a fortune on their face-changes mostly don’t originate from wealthy families. They “invest” in their face, believing it will improve the chances to climb up a few more notches on that social and financial ladder. But the price they pay is high and there is no guarantee anyway except for loss of personality that comes with such a profound change. Although plastic surgery is certainly useful for outlaws and those who are in need due to medical issues, it’s otherwise not a desirable option. Except for a new kind of victim: the unfortunates who have been falsely and publicly denounced and can’t endure the pressure (“shitstorm”) any longer. There is nothing you can do about such a problem. Once you are tagged, that’s it for you because social and other media are mercy-less and the network never forgets. As we have “learned” from the White House, this was one of the key strategies of “The Orange Maniac”. But respect and compassion are indispensable features and precondition if we want to cooperate with or sustain any form of life. Luckily we already have the Ethics of artificial intelligence in place, so what could possibly go wrong.
Android Erica: Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan
“Dangerous Days 02 | Robot-Mix”: Grimes Adhesif (UK), London
Photos, video, text, drawing, audio field-recordings: Oliver Lins (AT), Berlin
Dangerous Days 03 (Structure/Network) with audio contribution
by US producer Stewart Walker, coming February
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