Monday, December 24, 2012

Bio-Art: The Flesh Machine.

Raise your hand now if you asked for something with a computer chip in it for Christmas.  Yes? Almost everyone? Well, I hate to be a bummer, but you have just fed the Flesh Machine.

The Flesh Machine is a free book by the Critical Arts Entourage. It introduces a critique upon what it calls the "flesh machine" - basically, transgenics, eugenics, and anything else that pushes the natural-artificial boundary. The book is available for free download here. (Warning: 5 may be hard to read.)

The premise of the book is that society is run by machines. There are three machines total: The War Machine, the Sight Machine, and the Flesh Machine. The War Machine is exactly what it sounds like: Perfecting the art of destruction. It seems like we're always making stronger weapons - or at least trying to. This machine is likely almost done. Almost.

The second machine is the Sight Machine. The idea of the Sight Machine is to be able to see every square inch of the Earth at all times. Even sea trenches and space must be mapped. Every house must have a camera. Every move must be mapped.  See also: Skype, Google Earth.

These first two machines work hand-in-hand with each other. The idea is, "If I can see it, it's dead." Once everything is in the Sight Machine, the powers that be can theoretically destroy anything in the world. Anything that doesn't further the agenda of the powers that be must be eliminated.

The Flesh Machine is a whole different can of worms compared to the above two machines. There are many reasons why, say, catgirls are not yet a reality.  It's not because flesh is so terribly hard to manipulate - for example, it is quite easy to change sex simply by manipulating a few hormones. It is something of a miracle that cross-species genetics hasn't advanced that far. Why not?

The answer is simple: The Flesh Machine demands that we become cyborgs. Not robots - cyborgs. We still need a degree of emotion to feed the machines, and enough social sense to want to go along with what is normal. Indeed, "normal" is a standard made by the spectacle - a not-machine that is designed to both mask the intent of the machines and make them appealing.

Thus why catgirls have not been made real yet: Animals are nowhere near as predictable as robots, and thus hybrids remain a thing of fantasy. The Flesh Machine is not interested in allowing us to choose our physical bodies. They basically want us to spawn desirable drones for an insane system. Catgirls aren't desirable for office labor, unless they could be used for keeping morale up. Otherwise, they just plain aren't cyborg-y enough to fit.

That said, it is easy to sell things like cybernetic enhancements to soldiers (part of the War Machine). It is more difficult to convince civilians to accept cybernetic implantations and more implicit alterations, such as drugs that induce "normalcy." Normal = cyborg.

This does not mean that we are not slowly moving towards being full-fledged cyborgs. Watch any cell phone commercial.  The ones that first come to mind for me are anything for Droid phones; the words "entertainment machine" got my attention at first, but the latest Droid promises to "change your DNA." Alluring as that may sound to some people, anyone with an iota of rationality knows that the only way a cell phone can change DNA is by subtle radiation poisoning, and even that's a stretch.  You can take a cell phone with you, any time, anywhere - perfect for becoming a part of the Machine at every waking moment. The only issue is that we're not born with such devices. Until we are born with iPhones, the Flesh Machine will not be complete.

The issue then comes with producing these cyborgs. All three machines need human bodies to work for them, which means people need to reproduce. Thus the nuclear family: mom, dad, and one or two "normal" kids. Society today favors a child that will fit the system. Things like designer babies and the nuclear family encourage the breeding of such automata.

This, in turn, leads to eugenics. The population is conditioned into desiring "fit' offspring - in other words, "normal," "fit" people with a high productivity rate in the workplace. Children will eventually be engineered to fit the system. It'll be like GATTACA, only real.

This trinity of War, Flesh, and Sight Machines is self-destructive. If it continues, humanity will blow itself up, probably literally. Worst case scenario is a slow death due to a horrible species bottleneck. 
If you must be a cyborg, be a smart cyborg; most of your devices are little pieces of silicon made to keep tabs on you and keep you working at all times - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Ditch 'em as much as possible. This machine's gonna run out of fuel eventually.

Merry Christmas! Now go play with your i-whatevers. 

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