The future place for human beings: a zoological garden

    CONTROL: The Léa Rogliano and Pierre Hujoel Documentary What the Eye Doesn’t See is an inspiring work for extensive reflections.

    It’s easy to imagine what a consequent documentary is in times of confinement. One that is made at home. The camera is limited to images of the working desks, corridors, some objects of daily use, complemented by video extracts of media news messages. But the reduced sphere can also be transformed into an intense reflection space, in which the up-popping key media information echoes.

    What the Eye Doesn't See, a film by Pierre Hujoel, Léa Rogliano
    What the Eye Doesn’t See, a film by Pierre Hujoel, Léa Rogliano

    Civil courage

    Léa and Pierr, adults of younger age, and both currently confined in Brussels change their audio-visual communications. We don’t have much information on them to draw from to date, nor whether they are specialists of any kind, rather than simply just attentive and concerned observers of the transformations taking place in the outside world from April 13th to May 3rd, 2020.

    Léa is awakened by a citation of the Austrian-German philosopher Günther Anders (1902-1992), who had already anticipated in his 1956 publication The Outdatedness of Human Beings (Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen) that critiquing machines and technology will soon be an act of civil courage, risking intellectual, social and medial condemnations.

    The fist images come from Wuhan, demonstrating the control technology of apps, which allow quick identifications, including health status, completed by methods of temperature measuring from a distance.

    China used its first success in controlling the epidemic as a propaganda machine, not only to sell its own new control technology, but also to attack «democratic systems» by virtue of their own government concept: a society of obedience. Consequently, another video demonstrates how control resisters can physically be overwhelmed quickly and efficiently.

    For Léa and Pierre it seems important to discuss these facts outside of any conspiracy theory. What follows are images of drone technology applied in France, for example for observing public spaces and beaches. The drones are connected with security forces instantly ready for action. For some of these drone observers it already seems suspicious to stay static or to meditate.

    So, Europe is now following suit, but still the Chinese technology is far more advanced. The key question for Pierre and Léa is: What we shouldn’t forget and what we don’t want to lose.

    Promoting videos about an advanced face detection technology and still ugly, large dog like robots controlling people’s behaviour in public spaces are, for the moment, imitating human interactions on acoustical warnings. In the future the progressive appearance of these robots can quickly be «humanised», but their interaction programs can also easily be reinforced.

    the perception of the world by media….leads to all negative features of voyeurism


    Following Anders, the perception of the world by media, including the highly enlarged quantity of perceived images, leads to all negative features of voyeurism, not least the detachment with perceived real suffering. Furthermore, the decontextualisation as an important aspect of image perception involves the risk of losing intellectual capacities, neglecting analytical and systematic approaches, which are trained by lectures. The pulsing input of images can lead to a state of mindlessness by reducing the elevation of the world constituting relationships. Image perceptions of shreds are not showing the world, but concealing it.

    Today the The Outdatedness of Human Beings becomes an even much more radical dimension confronting AI. Concerning geopolitics and geo economic interests, US industrials reclaim their large investments in AI, as already implemented in China. For them, this would be the only way to stop China becoming the leading innovator.

    The challenging fact is that China uses mass surveillance as a tool to develop AI’s capacities. Mass surveillance is the best applied context to stimulate the research of «deep learning» for AI. No longer is an application only to discover possible dangerous subjects; mass surveillance transforms humans to pure objects for the improvement of artificial intelligence.

    China might not even need to resort to violence in the traditional way to take over the world, but simply colonise the world through its ideas and technology. States, lobbies and big companies will all benefit from it. Already in the US, Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google, is taken into contract by New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo for «reimaging the post-covid future» of the town through a permanent integration of technology in all aspects of civil life.

    So, for Léa’s and Pierre’s reflections: They finally ask whether Europe will resist this new US-China competition. Why and how could this happen? As Günther Anders confirmed, succintly: What can be done by technology will be done.

    What the Eye Doesn't See, a film by Pierre Hujoel, Léa Rogliano
    What the Eye Doesn’t See, a film by Pierre Hujoel, Léa Rogliano

    The future of surveillance

    Facing an automated society, the speedy up-growing AI capacities and the constantly perfected surveillance technology, some quite realistic scenarios can be imagined. Surveillance will soon be completed by the compression of different information tools (personal documents, finger and iris prints, medical history, assurance, bank accounts, education, intellectual interests, specific knowledge, all other forms of capacities and activities) in one material form (chip) to be presented on all occasions, including of course a chip copy in the cloud. To accept this necessity only a certain number of «terrorist» attacks need to happen (not, of course, only «settled» by one interest group) to convince majorities to accept the «chip» as an absolute necessity for the general «security».

    Furthermore, in COVID times we live in the dramatic conflict between the right not to die and the right to live (only limited by finances and the general law). Members of the second group reclaim that death also is caused by suicide, at least the notion that depression and long-term disadvantages are the result of a forced limited lifestyle.

    executive forces themselves will reclaim….the application of a prevention technology

    Regarding the more and more active and aggressive resistance against law and order, governments will necessary react to those attacks by reinforcing their legal monopoly on violence. The executive forces themselves will reclaim, for their own protection. the application of prevention technology, surely including identification as a deterrence tool. In the long run the states can’t refuse this request to its own security forces.

    Imagine now, that AI is programmed to preserve human values and human survival necessities. What would happen with human beings realising «crimes against humanity», or with those who – as Europeans surely do – accept, confirm or participate in the ongoing production and exportation of war technology for material benefit? How would AI treat people who are allowing thousands of human beings to die in full conscience, in order to protect their borders and comfortable living style, or those responsible for throwing thousands of tonnes of lethal materials in the oceans? After a simple analysis, AI will be auto-programme enabled without human interference and proceed as the dominant technological tool with factual interventions to prevent human beings from following up on those activities. The spectrum of human acts will be reduced to an existence in a zoological garden, where their aggressive behaviours can’t be performed any more. Let’s hope it will be a rather nice garden. Let’s in time inform AI «what we really don’t want to forget and what we don’t want to lose».

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    Dieter Wieczorek
    Wieczorek is a film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
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