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Social monsters Social monsters
by Jan Sand
2006-11-18 10:25:44
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Zeus and Loki, Allah and Jehovah, Mars and Venus, Lucifer and Pluto, Groucho Marx (devised by Julius Marx), Marilyn Monroe (invented by Norma Jean Baker), Mickey Mouse, James Dean, Elvis Presley, Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Einstein, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein’s lumpy creation, King Kong, Jack and Jill, the Kraken, Peter Pan, Humpty Dumpty and Pinocchio, and all the rest probably have at least a few adherents (some more than others).

Their images appear and reappear from time to time to remind us that they are each eternal, hanging around in bedroom shrines, kindergartens, antique film movie houses, universities, highly decorated stone cathedrals, mosques and temples to pay attention to or ignore the pleas and praises of their adherents.

Modern robotics grafted on to artificial intelligence is moving ahead quite rapidly in Japan and other countries. Click here to see an android that is rapidly approaching a human appearance. It might not be far off when the plaster saints in cathedrals are replaced with holy androids, which can give viable advice and perhaps even step down from their pedestals for a friendly chat.

No doubt, Arnold Schwarzenegger gained much of his popular public personality by impersonating a benign super robot. How far are we from the real McCoy being created in some Japanese laboratory to run for president and represent the policies of some group of politicians who even now advise and speech write for the current leader? Would an android Snow White garner more votes than Hillary Clinton? At present, the current administration’s antics seem more akin to those of the Three Stooges than of a responsible government; a robot president could certainly do no worse.

But this is mere speculation. There have been artificial creatures amongst us existing for hundreds of years who exert real economic and political power and are at present putting human existence in real danger. These are the corporate entities that retain all the rights, privileges and obligations of genuine citizens, except for the right to vote or to join in wedlock with a corporation of the opposite or the same sex, whatever that might be.

Beyond that, the corporation retains at least one somewhat divine potential. Namely, it could theoretically live forever or at least until the second law of thermodynamics forecloses on life’s occupation of the universe. No corporation so far has managed to reach this goal but our limited eternity has a way to go yet and corporations evolve in the manner of other life forms so they may at end develop an unassailable endurance.

These artificial persons have real personalities and motivations, some of them extremely similar to the likes of you and me and some so-oddly immoral as would be considered pathological in a proper human being. Corporations are, of course, human conglomerates but the strictures of organizations have strange effects on human psychology. Just as individual cells have behaviors that are strongly modified when they are joined into a multi-celled organism, so humans who normally might be considerate and act decently tend to disregard normal civilized behavior and subordinate decency to the rather simple and often vicious demands of corporate aggrandizement.

Hannah Arendt has pointed out that the outstandingly frightful characteristic of the Nazi Eichmann was that he was completely ordinary as an individual. Nevertheless, the requirements of the Nazi system moved this banal creature to murder hundreds of thousands of people with no sense of remorse whatsoever. This is little different from the whole tobacco industry that sells addictive poison to millions of people and the people who earn their livings thereby blithely do their daily jobs of making money from commercial horror with no sense of regret at all.

Tobacco is an easy target but companies that weigh profit against production of a useful product that is inherently destructive of the environment is difficult to condemn. Corporations dealing in oil, mining, pharmaceuticals, health care, logging, factory farming, fast food, transportation, electric power most certainly produce products vital to the existence of the modern world, but their goals of optimizing their profits very frequently disregard that the end product of their efforts will be the ultimate destruction of both modern civilization and perhaps life as we know it on this planet.

These artificial individuals are extremely powerful and demonically distort democratic processes in the name of their holy profits. They are the Tyrannosaurus Rex of our civilization and essentially totally devoted to their own enormous greed and ultimately mindless as to their benefits to humanity and the tightly interwoven network of living things so necessary to survival of all life on the planet.


 
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