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Cultivate Attention and Discernment (4)

“Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy”

— Vaclav Havel


Reading time: 25 mins

Creative Vs Entropic influences *

To get the engine of discernment running we need to be aware of how certain influences lead to cultural hypnosis and consensus trance, keeping us stressed, dependent and spiritually asleep. To bypass those toxic effects which we have taken on as normal, we must seek to build a sacred space within so that we are ready and receptive to attract the more subtle influences which positively stimulate the mind toward soul growth. Of course, they are less obvious and more difficult to isolate, which is why it is most challenging to attain spiritual development in our current round of society – everything is set up so that we remain numb and compliant or angry, fearful and volatile.

All of which is good for the system, not so good for the seeker.

Searching out Creative Influences (CI) in this context, is about cognitive and psycho-spiritual adaptation to society and culture without becoming subsumed in its pathology. When we can, we minimise an otherwise probable path to psychological entropy. [1] Gathering and applying these creative influences becomes an art and science since it is concerned with how to live in harmony according to the 31 principles.

The embodiment of psycho-spiritual creativity denotes character which endures. And character is formed by differentiating the qualities of thoughts, feelings and actions. Searching and getting to know these qualities is much like panning for gold in the mud – we recognise, understand and extract the properties which heal and integrate. These are processes which are made up of objectives, which, in turn, comprises our primary aim founded on energy dispersed or knowledge shared. The union or synthesis of “little ‘I’s or ego states begin to come under the influence of the soul which begins to grow from the various stimuli. It leads us to experience lessons which might eventually lead to an authentic level of Being.

Lies and self-deception cause a reversal or mirror image of these creative processes twisting back to the opposite path. The trajectory may appear to be the same in every way, the only difference being that the adaptive unconscious remains tied to the same narrative with no real changes occurring deep within whereby all changes are merely cosmetic. When we start to perceive the specific context and relationship in which creativity, entropy and the three forces interpenetrate we begin to differentiate which energy is operational and determine whether or not we are assimilating creative or entropic influences (EI) thus Being, or Non-Being, the latter resulting in a slow attrition of the soul.

With its inception in thermodynamics and information theory, “entropy” refers to the amount of uncertainty and disorder in a system. Everything in the universe tends towards entropy. All living creatures interact with there environment and self-organise and adapt to reduce the prospect of external entropy overloading our open feedback system and changing it to a closed system. Sentient life consists of a diverse range of open systems which extract energy/information from their environment to maintain a stable state, which, although far from equilibrium, continually keep the balance of entropy displacement into the outside world so that it never overwhelms the inner state – operational to abstract, disorder to order. This spring-cleaning and stabilising of energy is called “negentropy”, the process which prevents psychic entropy overload.

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Cultivate Attention and Discernment (3)

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

“There is no consistent, integrated conception of the world which serves as the foundation on which our edifice of belief rests. And therefore… we are more naive than those of the Middle Ages, and more frightened, for we can be made to believe almost anything.”

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985)


Reading time: 20-25 mins

Fear, Superstimuli, Indoctrination

Fear is a wake-up call to pay attention and see truth. But this instinct can be easily subverted to an irrational and automatic body-mind reaction for survival and self-protection against a perceived threat. The father of propaganda Edward Bernays, the Rockefeller dynasty and their social science directives; Freud and psychoanalysis; Alfred Kinsey and his sexual revolution and the ever-present mainstreaming of occult directives have flowed through the mass mind and shaped Western societies toward a highly narrow conception of reality.

Education, mainstream media, entertainment, art, fashion, advertising, marketing, public relations – even our family unit, peer groups and working life – all reflect the above directors of an Official Culture. All are defined by consumption, commodity, image, sensation and artifice. The original source of these traditions and pursuits have lost their psycho-spiritual meaning and now float in a sea of narcissistic irrelevancy.

Instead of bringing out the true meaning of human existence – to love, learn, bond, create and commune –  our current reality is a constellation of subverted constructs which are pathological due to a predominance of psychopathic and sub-deviant human beings who have taken control of societies. They have continually re-interpreted and subverted the best of human ingenuity and innovation toward their own conscienceless, machine-like perception. This continuing psycho-materialist paradigm has been translated and mediated into so-called normative social, political and cultural structures. They continue to exist purely due to a consensus trance reinforced by cultural hypnosis, of which most people are entirely unaware.


“Never have so many been manipulated so much by so few.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (1958), Chapter 3, p. 19


The overriding and long-term objective behind this inculcation is toward complete control of the mass mind. The Three Establishment Model via their corporate oligarchs and power-brokers are the aforementioned 4C’s alongside economic, political and sociocultural warfare using three main prongs of attack:

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Cultivate Attention and Discernment (2)

“Dark ages are times of forgetting, when the advancements of the past are underutilized. If we forget how to use our powers of deep focus, we’ll depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships. That breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding. The possibility of an attention-deficient future society is very sobering.”

Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age


Reading time: 10-15 mins

Cultural Hypnosis / Consensus Trance

What are we paying attention to?

21st Century culture is a pseudo or secondary reality in which we are all deeply immersed.

Although it might seem illogical, our present social and cultural constructs are birthed from a world of inductive economic and political ideas amounting to a form of hypnosis. The behavioural dynamics of this reality exist in the mass and individual mind with no proof or experience to validate it. In order to make sure that our attention never gets out of the nose-bag of fear, sex, hunger and i-phones, it is imperative that our generational rulers keep cultural hypnosis firmly in place.

According to master hypnotist Mark Anthony, this is a:  “… catch-all term that covers the mass of influence from a wide range of people, institutions and situations that each human being is affected by from the moment of conception till death within a given, definable and limited culture matrix. Less euphemistically, cultural hypnosis is aka PROGRAMMING.” [1]  Similarly, the consensus trance that eventuates, is defined as “normal” consciousness wholly adapted to current sociocultural constructs. Or as psychologist Charles T. Tart describes it: “… when you automatically think, behave, and feel “normally,” when the internal workings of your mind automatically echo most of the values and beliefs of your culture”. [2]

Cultural hypnosis leads to the induction of a consensus trance and its perceived “normality” which leads to a consensus reality. When we interface with reality through trance-like states we are not thinking for ourselves, we are not questioning that consensus – our minds are not working consciously.

We will take a generalised look at how the social dominators use various methods of cultural induction, inculcation and conditioning to induce mass hypnosis and the resulting trance in Western civillisation and in varying degrees, global populations.

Dissociation

Everyone daydreams to the point of distraction at some point during the day. Many of us experience mild dissociative episodes for much of lives and can function within the social norms of society without too many problems. Lesiure pursuits from golf to cinema allow us respite from the rigours of work and other demands on our energy so that relaxation and imagination can take over. Watching TV or sitting in front of a movie screen are good examples of temporarily suspending our relationship to consensus reality. When we relax and enter into these movie states, our conscious awareness is literally absent – we are fully running, laughing, feeling and fearing all that happens in front of us, whether we intellectualise it or not. We are hypnotised by light and sound and dissociate one part of consciousness from another. It would be a form of psychosis if certain triggers were not present. But the TV is switched off, the credits roll and the lights come up. We stretch and yawn and make our way home.

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Technocracy II: Big Brother in your Bag and the Auto-Matrix

“Society is progressively moving towards a socio-technical ecosystem in which the physical and virtual dimensions of life are more and more intertwined and where people interaction, more often than not, takes place with or is mediated by machines.

Our goal is to move towards hybrid systems where people and machines tightly work together to build a smarter society. We envision a new generation of Collective Adaptive Systems where humans and machines synergically complement each other and operate collectively to achieve their, possibly conflicting, goals, but which also exhibit an emergent behaviour that is in line with their designers’ objectives.”

http://www.smart-society-project.eu/


Are you ready to “exhibit an emergent behaviour that is in line with their designers’ objectives”?

The more your behaviour mimics artificial intelligent systems the easier it will be for us all to conform to the required “synergy” needed for a “hybrid society.” Or if you prefer, our inevitable embrace of “hybrid and diversity-aware collective adaptive systems.”

This is where authoritarian geeks take over the world starting with endless SMART word-salad.

At this point something like this may be going through your mind:

Oh, stop being such a kill-joy, doom and gloom stick-in-the-mud and get with the SMART picture. Don’t you know it’s inevitable? What do you want us to do? Stop using technology? You’re just a Luddite afraid of change.

Well, let’s see how you feel as we proceed.

SMART society is not a dream but an inevitable symptom of the technocratic arm of the Establishment. A large proportion of the public consciousness and the purse-strings of business enterprise are behind the philosophy of SMART. The rest of us are following along just as we did with credit cards, mobile phones and every other technological innovation. The off-the-shelf opinion of frustration above is fairly standard and quite understandable given our circumstances. Why would anyone doubt the benefits of SMART visions, especially when the younger generation have pretty much known nothing else? Why would you want to pay attention to the dark underside of your i-pad sensibilities?

That sums up the whole trajectory of wilful blindness and hubris which has characterised the rise and fall of civilisations for millennia. There’s always a love affair with the God of the moment that leads to the crash and burn. But let’s continue observing a bit more of that underside since its actually rather … huge.

In 2012, the vulnerability of SMART TVs was brought into relief when it was proven that hackers could easily compromise, in this case, various parts of Samsung’s new TVs which would allow them to: “… remotely turn on the TVs’ built-in cameras without leaving any trace of it on the screen.” A hacker (government or otherwise) had the capability to watch you while you watched your favourite programme or internet web page. Hackers could also re-routed users to a convenient website in order to obtain their bank account data or other private information. The company apparently fixed the flaws with a worrying proviso: “We know that the way we were able to do this has been fixed; it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways that could be discovered in the future.”orwellsmarttvSMART TV c/o of Samsung | © infrakshun

Similarly, By 2015, nothing much has improved. Indeed, it’s got worse. Televisions can actively monitor what users say and transmit that information to third parties. Samsung attempted to put these grievances to rest by saying that the latest models are all encrypted, unlike earlier versions. Unfortunately, that was a lie. Reporters from online journal Extreme Tech contacted security researchers at Pentest Partners to retrieve information regarding the brand and model of the TV which had undergone these tests:

The initial model was a UE46ES8000, a top-end TV for its day, but now two years old. This time around, the team tested a UE55HU7500. This screen currently retails for £1,569.86 in the UK according to Amazon. Reviews date from June 2014 through Jan 2015 and the unit is widely available — it is, in other words, a “current” Samsung TV by any reasonable sense of the word.

The team tested the new television in the same manner as the old and found that data is still being transferred in plaintext.

Since SMART technology means that most home-based gadgets and business networks are connected to the internet in some way, technology experts and hackers have cautioned that it is highly likely that the idea of network security is fast becoming a misnomer as the principle of the flaws in the Samsung TVs can be replicated across a broad spectrum of internet-connected platforms. In summary: Devices are unsecured.

Moreover, as one researcher observes:

Many of these unsecured devices can be found with a simple search. In fact, there’s a search engine devoted just to scouring the so-called “Internet of things” called Shadon Playing around with it is an eye-opener. For example, in late July a writer for Forbes discovered an entire home automation product line with Internet-connected features that could be set up without a default password, and were visible to search engines. This would enable a hacker to search and find these systems on the Net, then access them at will. To prove her point, Kashmir Hill breached the home automation systems of random strangers, called them on the phone and demonstrated the vulnerability by turning their lights on and off. [1]

Before we get on to how far the rabbit hole of integration between SMART enthusiasm, monitoring and surveillance goes, it may be worthwhile considering how corporate UK and US are data-mining the minds of Joe and Jeanette public.

Remember your useful supermarket “loyalty” card lurking in your wallet or at the bottom of your handbag? This little critter provides enormous amounts of information about your shopping habits which is retained in a large marketing database and shared by a multitude of interested parties – from advertisers to law enforcement. Your transactions, the frequency of purchases and your preferences are all used to create a customer profile that is mapped into various demographic and psychological analyses very useful for sales and marketing strategies. You are walking psychological real estate for the corporate world and they just love to extract as much as they can from your sub prime mind.

Take another British wallet-hugger – the Nectar card. This is a ubiquitous piece of plastic which is used by over 10 million people in the United Kingdom. Information is compiled from a range of shops visited and offers a nice readout along with a pretty graph of a cardholder’s shopping habits. Though Nectar insists the information is strictly for customers only, data is increasingly flying about the consumer and corporate world, regardless.

loyalty-cards

Intrusion is a very profitable business. As we saw in the first posts about Official Culture, the constant and pervasive presence of advertising seeks to colonise any and all of the latest advances in information technology, from the internet to bill-board hoardings with literally no place to hide. For instance, CAT, PET, MRI brain imaging scanners have fast made the transition from clinical tools to advertisers and marketing weaponry. When it was known that certain regions of the brain “light up” when a person thinks of a pleasurable experience or the solving of a puzzle this means that such knowledge could be applied to advertising. The new jargon speaks of “neuromarketing” or “neuroeconomics” as the next field of mind colonisation. SMART eh?

According to Technology Advice magazine from October 15th 2013, Japan was taking the lead in so called “SMART shelves,” which began appearing in some US grocery stores at the start of 2015. Run by Mondelez International, the shelves operate at the checkout line using various tech tools to identify the sex and age of the shoppers. From the information stored a custom made advert is then  displayed according to that particular person’s demographic. Marketing data will also be collected from how long the advert was watched. If a shopper picks up the item information will be relayed from weight sensors to indicate a potential purchase. Coupons and store discounts can be displayed in order to encourage a sale.

If you want to get the public used to something then the usual mode of “softening” for the future comes via Hollywood and glamour. Otherwise known as “predictive programming” this was used to great effect by butchering Philip K. Dick’s book and making it into Minority Report (2002) starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was here that concept of “Pre-Crime” and biometric surveillance was given a thorough airing.  In the shopping mall scene Cruise’s character is stopped in his tracks by an interactive advert which had been scanned by iris recognition technology. A voice shouts: “John Anderton, you could use a Guinness!” If that sounds too nightmarish to contemplate, most of that futuristic, pop-corn-munching entertainment has become reality in just under ten years. And now it’s all so … passé. The algorithmic software isolates the face, measures the features and extracts it from the scene. Once a match has been found data is flooded in to complete the profile. Think CSI and various other glamorous TV shows that feature all kinds of whizz-bang gadgetry in the hunt for criminals.

Facial recognition and Iris scanning technology is already present at airports and passport control in the UK. Advanced versions are being rolled out at a terminal in Love Field, Dallas, Texas consisting of “… 500 high-definition security cameras sharp enough to read an auto license plate or a logo on a shirt. The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, which represents airlines globally, calls it “the checkpoint of the future,” with the PR for the initiative going for the speed angle where passengers will move almost “non-stop” through security. Meanwhile, they “… would identify themselves not with driver’s licenses and paper boarding passes, but by scanning fingerprints or irises to prove they have an electronic ticket.” [2]

(Even Homeland Security has been beavering way since at least 2011 to apply this technology in defending the Fatherland. It seems logical that this is where the real action lies, namely, in bolstering law enforcement and the military-intelligence apparatus).

Along side “Intelligent” transport systems we have Intelligent digital billboards which have been the first in line for this advertising gold-rush, being fitted with cameras that can discern the gender and age group of passers-by who look at them. The idea is to tailor the messages to the onlooker in real time. Toyko has road tested a collection of billboards of varying size and at different locations. A spokesman for the project said: “The camera can distinguish a person’s sex and approximate age, even if the person only walks by in front of the display, at least if he or she looks at the screen for a second.” And the data stored will obviously stay in responsible hands, advertisers being extremely responsible people, as we know… [3]

Germany has also been getting in on the act with a intelligent billboard designed for dog owners using “hot technology of location-based social networking,” to sell Granata Pet brand dog food. “As owners pass by with their dogs they can stop in front of it, use their mobile phones to check in on Foursquare and as soon as they do, a dog treat will pop out of the billboard and the dog – or I guess owner – can sample the product before deciding to buy it.” [4]

Or course, targeting your bemused pooch is small fry.

Ad agency BBDO (also from Germany) and broadcaster Sky Deutschland have joined forces to target work weary passengers on commuter trains. When they rest their heads against a window instead of the promise of pleasant dreams they will hear messages beamed into the brains. The advertising platform uses a small box attached to the surface of the window which sends out vibrations which the brain translates into sound. Called “bone conduction” technology, it promises to be used across a range of info-tainment services.

Less invasive is the introduction of “Smell-vertising” which had its first test run by food company McCain and its frozen jacket potatoes. A display of 3D fibreglass models of baked potatoes were installed at bus stops in London, York, Glasgow, Manchester and Nottingham which released an aroma of oven-baked potato when a button is pressed.

According to a report published in 2011 by the Centre for Future Studies, 3D outdoor ads that can recognise people’s moods and were tested on the streets in 2012. Called “gladadvertising,” the software picks up on facial expressions associated with certain moods and once it has analysed what the victim is feeling, advertisers move in for the kill, delivering the programmed advert straight into the frontal lobe. The study also concluded that the accessing of personal data from social networks through your mobile phone could be combined with “holograms, mood lighting and smells.” [5] This form of “targeted marketing or “dynamic advertising” has some of us – though clearly not enough – concerned.

personalisedlipsThe Washington-based privacy advocate organisation the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) warned that: “… this type of surveillance encroaches on civil liberties,” adding that: “Such face, voice and behaviour technology could be a means of tracking individuals on a mass level across their entire lives.” The organisation believes that the demands from advertisers and security-minded governments have made technologies: “… so increasingly SMART and intrusive that they now resemble something out of science fiction.”

As we become assaulted by smells, images and voices in our heads, these will be increasingly tailored towards the particular demographic in which we reside. And depending how much of our individual data has become available – probably without our consent. Accordingly, even the gender focus can become another marketing dollar. Initially however, it was a charity which was chosen to launch a face recognition billboard in London’s Oxford St. to highlight gender discrimination. (Nothing like blending social conscience and marketing – everyone’s a winner.) On February 23rd 2012, The Independent  newspaper reported on an advert that “plays only to women.” The first of its kind, the technology: “… works by scanning faces before measuring the distance between the viewer’s eyes, width of the nose, length of jaw line and shape of cheekbone to compare the data and estimate their gender.”

Back in November 12, 2008, an Agence France Press ran the report: ‘Firms scan brain waves to improve ads in Japan.’ US Market research company Neilsen and its partner Neurofocus obligingly offered a brain-scanning “service” for the Japanese marketing industry. The technology scans brains waves and the physical features of potential customers in order to accurately study the effects of advertising messages and their products. Attention level, message retention level and emotional involvement of customers is measured the data of which is collected and analysed.

Meanwhile, Londoners can’t even take out their rubbish without being targeted by the ad-men and their SMART toys. Before the Olympics of 2012, Renew, a company who manufactures recycling bins installed over 100, 12 of which had digital tracking devices so that customers were effectively stalked in order to roll out personal advertising in the “real world.” As ludicrous as it may sound – yet perhaps fitting given the product – the little digital screens display Youtube updates, news and of course, targeted ads. According to Sam Shead of online magazine Techworld,an experiment to place tracking devices in recycling bins in order to spy on Londoner’s smartphones was well underway. The report explained how it worked: The 12 bins with the technology record a unique identification number, known as a MAC address, for mobile devices in the vicinity that have Wi-Fi switched on. This enables the Renew bins to monitor data including the ‘movement, type, direction, and speed of unique devices’”. The experiment was terminated by early 2013. Don’t worry there are still the London SMART bins.[6] (See below)

Smart Cities: BinsDan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

“In London’s Square Mile there are already more than 100 “smart bins”. As well as being a receptacle for recycling, they feature digital screens broadcasting a live channel of breaking headline news and live traffic information. They can also communicate directly with mobile devices through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology.” Source: ‘Cities get smart: urban innovation.


 “Identity will become embedded in devices” and “propagated into all applications.”


The appetite for data from advertisers and marketers is as insatiable as the NSA’s. The objective is to create a rich data base for “predictive analytics” where a precise knowledge of each individual’s “event” (places they have dined, visited etc.) and who has purchased online in the past can be targeted with advertising which knows your behaviour and personal preferences inside out. The report goes on to say: “In tests occurring between 21-24 May and 2-9 June, over four million events were observed, with over 530,000 unique devices monitored.”

Advertisers may enjoy the innovation but the SMART technology they are riding and driving serves another purpose above and beyond selling products. The software and the desires behind it will always advance and so too the more macro-social SMART planning that is on the pathocratic excel sheet; something advertisers will obviously not have considered and even if the awareness was present, probably wouldn’t care. As Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer of BT points out: “Once the cameras are installed and operational, once they’re networked to central computers, then it’s a simple matter of upgrading the software,” … “And if they can do more — if they can provide more ‘value’ to the advertisers — then of course they will. To think otherwise is simply naïve.” [7]

The Centre for Future Studies produced a recent summary of key trends in social media that showed how advertising and marketing will dove-tail perfectly into the Technocrats’ dream of an automated society or, as the report states, thanks to Facebook, Twitter etc.: “Identity will become embedded in devices” and “propagated into all applications.” The SMART systems will allow us to bypass these sites and will “seamlessly access your profile.” They further suggest that once social identity has become embedded in our devices, online sharing will become fused to media life, where DVDs TV, i-Pod music and internet “sync preferences to preferred identity.”

Back to The Internet of Things (IOT) and uploading and integrating our identity with SMART world until they are fully synonymous.

As the embedding continues and the reliance and surveillance that goes with it, our location will be omnipresent and available: “Location aware devices will employ pre-emptive use of location to alert the user to things or people nearby that may be of interest.” – Along with those listening in and observing. Marketers will start salivating here when they can offer a discount at a nearby MacDonald’s store: Hey Dude! There’s a Double Royale Burger with extra fries half price deal on 5th Avenue if you hurry! Just Lovin’ it!

mcdonaldspersonalisedThis “dual use” technology allows a double agenda to come into play. Once again, we have the Brave New (SMART) world lurking in perceived innocence and purity just behind the scenes approaching full integration with satellite and terrestrial appliances:

“SMART devices and web apps will automatically check-in and post updates: Identity aware devices, empowered by embeddable RFID tags, (Radio Frequency Identification Chip) will allow this type of technology to spread beyond the mobile phone. A SMART coffee thermos, for example, could enable auto-check ins and send coupons to your phone as you enter your favourite coffee shop.” [8]

And entering our favourite coffee shop with your favourite thermos may be the least of our worries if Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) does indeed spread beyond the mobile phone. Like your arm, for example. In the technocratic future, entering the shop by choice would fast become a luxury. It is at precisely this juncture, where SMART technologies and consumerism suggest how to live your life and where true choices becomes somewhat progressively ill-defined. It’s already too much. And such a level of invasive consumerism blended with the surveillance state can only work if one’s brain has been suitably primed to function in a similar fashion to a small bucket of silica.

What of the workforce in the face of these rapid advances?

A recent report from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology based at Oxford University suggests that 45 per cent of the jobs in the United States will be automated within the next twenty years. Using a standard statistical modelling method, data was accrued from more than 700 jobs on ONet, an online career network. The skills, education and many other variables were all taken into account. With already massive unemployment problems and part-time workers scratching around for jobs automation will force more and more people into the mega-cities and into a managed system – for their own welfare.

Echoing Jeremy Rifikin’s seminal book: The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era (1995) the professor explored the clear delineation between a disenfranchised global workforce and an Information Elite. The results yielded a change that would likely happen in two stages:

1) Computers replacing people. Vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production, construction, services, sales and administration will all be affected causing a massive increase in the unemployed. The pace of change will then slow and progress in fits and starts according to the particular field.

2) Artificial Intelligence. As the sophistication of computerisation continues to grow, a second tier of work will be under threat including the sciences, management, engineering, and the arts.

Obvious maybe, but in 1995 it was hard to imagine. Manufacturing is in a bad way having shed 6 million jobs since 2000 and as production soars ahead despite trillions of debt in both the US and Europe. The robot revolution and the SMART visions will only continue the erosion of mass employment. The speed at which this will happen, especially regarding stage two depends on access to cheap labour, resources and social, geo-political and environmental instability. It could be much quicker or considerably longer but the direction is clear.

factoryautomation© infrakshun


“The new law of the economic jungle is this: either write the software that eats the world, or be eaten.”


Professor Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT Sloan School of Management, and his co-author Andrew McAfee have come to much the same conclusions. They believe most of the unemployment stagnation is due to the inexorable rise of robotics and factory automation. According to their research the future is very bleak for a much wider range of jobs, from law, financial services, education, and medicine. More controversially for some, they show that there has been a divergence or “great decoupling” beginning in 2000 – 2011 where economic growth is indicated but with no parallel increase in job creation. Productivity continues to rise as does the long-term unemployed. While Brynjolfsson believes technology does make nations wealthier overall, there is an undeniable paradox at work. He observes: “Productivity is at record levels, innovation has never been faster, and yet at the same time, we have a falling median income and we have fewer jobs. People are falling behind because technology is advancing so fast and our skills and organizations aren’t keeping up.” [9]

Earlier in 2013 Israeli company Rethink Robotics illustrated what will surely become the norm before very long. “Baxter” a foot high service robot retailing at $22,000 can take on most menial tasks from serving coffee, to fetching the post. Software applications are swiftly being developed to make sure that such robots will be able to take ever more sophisticated jobs from assembly line work in factories to flipping burgers in McDonalds. According to a Fiscal Times report Baxter is being overtaken: “MIT already has a BakeBot that can read recipes, whip together cookie dough and place it in the oven. The University of California at Berkeley has a robot that can do laundry and fold T-shirts. Robot servers have started waiting tables at restaurants in Japan, South Korea, China and Thailand …” [10]  Indeed, US agriculture which has already undergone massive monopolisation by five major agribusiness companies is taking the next step in the robotics revolution in keeping with a future collective herding of humanity. Over in California the Lettuce Bot is one such example, where the machines  “… can ‘thin’ a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 workers to do the job by hand.” [11]

Though a new sector of employment is emerging comprising Robot IT and maintenance personnel, security developers, designers and salespeople for robot accessories, software, and apps, it will not ameliorate the millions of blue collar workers whose talents and working wage is outside specialist technology. (This does not even include the rising immigration problem from nations ransacked by western backed regime change).  As automated vehicles begin to replace truck drivers and better software obviates the need for lawyers, bartenders and burger flippers and even some medical care workers then the divide between the rich and the poor will become a case of who has access to technology and who does not; who is living on the edges of society and who lives at its core. As one tech journalist Jon Evans commented: “The new law of the economic jungle is this: either write the software that eats the world, or be eaten.”

Author and technology journalist Nicolas Carr has written about the dark side of the approaching revolution in automation. Carr opines that in putting our knowledge in the hands of machines, we are inadvertently – and ironically – signing away our greatest potential.  In his 2010 book: The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember he provides an overview of what automation is doing to a number of sectors in society and how they are altering the nature of work. For instance, air accidents are revealed to be have been caused by pilot error, which in turn, was caused by overly-sophisticated software which has by-passed normal human reaction and good old fashioned intuition working in unison with years of experience. Now they are essentially computer operators.

Aviation and automation experts have found that what the accidents had in common (when human error was a factor) was that: “Overuse of automation erodes pilots’ expertise and dulls their reflexes,” which leads “a de-skilling of the crew.” And since pilots hold the controls on a typical flight for only three minutes such is the state of software sophistication it means that the problem isn’t likely to get better. Unless that is, you get rid of pilots all together. What will this do to the knowledge of flying? Will flying be yet another skill that becomes the province of the computer and will go much the same way as the art of hand-writing? The stakes are a little higher with the former however… 

The overuse of automation may be putting lives at risk. Faith in such technology could be misplaced if we compare it to the beliefs of the Industrial Revolution from which most of these ideas derive. The scope and magnitude of automated tasks has taken on an entirely different mandate. Software is increasingly rendering the presence of humans unnecessary even for intellectual tasks which until recently were considered strictly human-based. As our focus narrows, we are moving into a technocratic army of workers who do nothing more than monitor and input data rather than truly engage in creative activities which require the friction of challenge and stimulation. Routine will inevitably supplant the nourishing of talent even more than the mechanical assembly line.

Automation2

Automation: the future of manufacturing. Where do all the people go?

The cause of this drive to automate our lives is based on a trenchant fallacy of a machine-based future that will naturally provide for us all and cater for our every mental, emotional and even spiritual needs. As Carr suggests, this is merely another “substitution myth” which fails to address core issues at the heart of change and adaptation. He further states: “A labor-saving device doesn’t just provide a substitute for some isolated component of a job or other activity. It alters the character of the entire task, including the roles, attitudes, and skills of the people taking part.” It is this mass alteration combined with power-hungry individuals presently infesting our social systems which will spell disaster for the human condition if we don’t – somehow – apply the brakes.

Meantime, this will inevitably lead to what psychologists have called complacency and bias leading to poor performance. A false sense of security will descend which over time, leads to an erosion of our levels of attention and awareness. As our trust and faith in automated systems increases so too our hard talents and instincts atrophy, where other informational sources become secondary. This does not absolve us from ignoring incorrect or subtle mistakes in computational data however and a vicious circle is enacted.

But there is also a deeper problem as Carr explains:

Automation turns us from actors into observers. Instead of manipulating the yoke, we watch the screen. That shift may make our lives easier, but it can also inhibit the development of expertise. Since the late 1970s, psychologists have been documenting a phenomenon called the “generation effect.” It was first observed in studies of vocabulary, which revealed that people remember words much better when they actively call them to mind—when they generate them—than when they simply read them. The effect, it has since become clear, influences learning in many different circumstances. When you engage actively in a task, you set off intricate mental processes that allow you to retain more knowledge. You learn more and remember more. When you repeat the same task over a long period, your brain constructs specialized neural circuits dedicated to the activity. It assembles a rich store of information and organizes that knowledge in a way that allows you to tap into it instantaneously. Whether it’s Serena Williams on a tennis court or Magnus Carlsen at a chessboard, an expert can spot patterns, evaluate signals, and react to changing circumstances with speed and precision that can seem uncanny. What looks like instinct is hard-won skill, skill that requires exactly the kind of struggle that modern software seeks to alleviate.

Translating information into applied knowledge is fast becoming an obstacle to achieving not only a place in society but a deeper sense of fulfilment. With an already growing malaise of narcissism afflicting our present generations this does not bode well for the coming technocratic age. In our enthusiasm to replace pilots with programs and suitable algorithms so that diagnoses can take doctors out of the equation entirely the vacuum to which we are all being drawn is based on a cure that is nothing more than total automation which is by definition a technocracy. How on earth do we prevent our distinctly unique talents disappearing as rapidly as technology has arisen? As a consequence, it has comes down to a question of existential meaning. Carr asks: “Does our essence still lie in what we know, or are we now content to be defined by what we want? If we don’t grapple with that question ourselves, our gadgets will be happy to answer it for us.” It doesn’t matter from what cultural origins we derive our sense of meaning and place in the world, the eternal constant is that “knowing demands doing.” [12]

If we embrace the riptide of total automation where the notion of personal vocation is becoming refined and narrowed into software programs in the name of efficiency and ease, then our definition of who we are will be dangerously tied up with the instantaneous result – at the expense of the journey. What we may be losing in return for this new Official Culture and its addictive race for results will only be known when we begin to wonder what it was like to live without the screen. Creativity, meaning and a real world connection may be difficult to claw back when we have become a mirror of the machines we seem to covet.

But the blind drive to a SMART society and automation isn’t the only change that is pressing down on human consciousness. The urge to actually merge our bodies with machines by allowing incremental integration is already taking place.

 


Notes
[1] ‘In 21st century America, Samsung TV watches YOU!’ chron.com, August 5, 2013.
[2] ”Checkpoint of the future’ takes shape at Texas airport’ USA Today June 21, 2012.
[3] ‘Tokyo’s intelligent digital billboards can tell gender, age of passerby’ by Andrew Nusca, http://www.smartplanet.com, 15 Jul 2010.
[4] ‘Intelligent Billboard gives you dog treats: truly the future is here.’ By Anna Leach, March 30 2011. http://www.shinyshiny.tv.com.
[5] ‘Emotion Recognition Software Will Tailor Digital Out-of-Home Advertising Messages to a Person’s Mood’ March 3 2011, http://www.screenmediadaily.com
[6] ‘Tracking devices in recycling bins spy on Londoner’s smartphones’ By Sam Shead Tech World | Aug 10, 2013.
[7] ‘Big Brother is watching you shop’ By Michael Fitzpatrick, BBC News, October 2, 2009.
[8] Insights – centreforfuturestudies strategic futures consultancy, 21 September 2010, http://www.futurestudies.co.uk/files/Centrepercent20forpercent20Futurepercent20Studies/INSIGHTpercent20Socialpercent20Media.pdf

[9] ‘How Technology Is Destroying Jobs’ By David Rotman MIT Tech Review June 2013.
[10]’The Robot Reality: Service Jobs are Next to Go’ By Blaire Briody, Fiscal Times March 26, 2013.
[11]‘Robots revolutionize farming ease labor’ Phys.org July 2013.
[12] ‘All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines’ By Nicolas Carr, The Atlantic Monthly, Oct.23rd 2013.

Branding the Kids

 By M.K. Styllinski

“Congress should ban advertising that preys upon children, it should stop subsidizing dead-end jobs, it should pass tougher food safety laws, it should protect American workers from serious harm, it should fight against dangerous concentrations of economic power.”

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal


With children’s diet currently falling well short of balanced in the USA and many European countries, and cases of obesity rising each year, a recent report has shown that a big part of the problem lies with fast food company advertising.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, published a study in 2012 carried out by researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Using the demographic children aged 10-14 years old, they showed children 60 logos from popular food brands, and 60 logos from popular non-food brands. A MRI scanner was used to monitor the reaction of the children’s brains when they viewed the brand logos. When images of fast food companies were displayed the parts of the brain controlling pleasure and appetite lit up. Yet, when logos from companies not associated with food were shown there was little response. They also discovered that children showed a marked preference for food which had a logo with which they were familiar. The researchers found that: “When asked to taste a hamburger from a box with no label, and a hamburger from a box labeled McDonald’s, the children overwhelmingly preferred the McDonald’s burger.”

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Photo credit: The Chinese People’s Daily Online

Aside from the high sugar and sodium content of these foods, it marketers are over-stimulating the reward centres of young brains before children can develop the necessary self-control. This was confirmed in the September 2012 report: “I’m Lovin’ It” Fast-Food Logos ‘Imprinted’ in Children’s Brains’ by Makini Brice, in online journal Medical Daily. Exposure to hard core pornography is following a similar process leading to a premature flooding of chemicals from excess stimulation of the reward centres inducing what may be called a “re-wiring” of children’s brains.

Selling, as a 21st Century definition, is the process of convincing us to buy what we do not necessarily need. Advertising follows on from this by manipulating us into believing that the answer to our problems of self-worth and self-esteem can be solved by purchasing a range of limitless products. Once the infant has been caught on the habituated hook of the advertiser, this addiction becomes an immensely difficult one to relinquish. Advertising panders to the same opiates that define the inducements of pornography. Or as social commentator Philip Slater mentioned: “If we define pornography as any message from any communication medium that is intended to arouse sexual excitement, then it is clear that most advertisements are covertly pornographic.” [1]

Advertising, in all its forms, is at the vanguard of a normalised manipulation which requires that people are fundamentally changed into consumer drones that not only embolden materialist illusions but feed unsustainable pyramids of economic control. Multinational led advertising has kept us in a somnambulistic state of denial while feeding on our self-esteem and sense of self. They constantly target our preoccupations and fears that we are not desirable or fashionable enough, that we cannot possibly be comfortable in our own skins without the latest products, be it shampoo or eye-liner, X-box or i-pad.

Advertising works best by absorbing the latest precepts in social issues and ethics, humanitarian, environmental and spiritual concerns, reducing them down to simplistic vehicles for selling. Who knows? Perhaps the colonization of our minds can be extended into space by using electronic billboards? Perhaps even to beam adverts onto the moon? As a matter of fact, this was not beyond the imagination of the admen and an attempt to do just that was made, though their lofty ambitions have been for the moment, unsuccessful. [2]

A key component of advertising is the insistence on conformity, the young being the most susceptible to this targeted messages. If you are cool you belong. If you are not cool you do not exist. The advertisers make sure they go to the heart of our insecurities and then, like a vast corporate cattle-prod, they burn a new insatiable craving into our everyday lives, yet another mask to wear. Peer-group tribalism combined with the habit of instant gratification reinforces such needs, further adding to the loss of perceptual diversity in the creation of original thoughts and ideas. Advertisers send out waves of neuroses to ensure a divided consciousness in the young, and what better way to do it through a constant ever-present selling that invades the last sanctuary on earth – the privacy of our minds?

r189205_709068© Infrakshun

The assimilation of the mind into a lump of pliable play-doe has been a particularly 20th century creation. It has proceeded with alarming alacrity as we move into the bewildered 21st. As we all become more aware of the methods by which advertisers lure us into their buyers “paradise” they must then seek new and ingenious ways to literally program us into needing their wares.

If poverty and neglect doesn’t kill them then the mind programming of 21st century America is already making generations of children captive in a virtual bubble of subjective whimsey that provides a fertile ground for programming. As cyber-culture commentator Douglas Rushkoff mentions: “The fresh neurons of young brains are valuable mental real estate to admen” and as such, represent a highly coercive strategy that is designed to take over the child’s mind and fill it with slogans and brands to the point that there is very little desire or room for anything else. [3] The author describes the techniques of the 1936 “bible” of selling: How to Win Friends and Influence People that were used in the US Central Intelligence Agency’s “Kubark” interrogation manual of 1963. With demographics and psychographics, the corporations and their advertising agencies are still conducting military operations for the child’s mind, a battle which has become extremely sophisticated.

The youth of modern America in particular bear the hallmarks of “branding” where personal identity is subsumed into logos, labels and fashion icons. If you wear Calvin Klein underwear and Hugo after-shave you are “sexy” and “cool.” If you have the latest Nike trainers you have your status ear-marked in the gang or at school. The irony is that everyone is ending up the same while seeking to be different. Youth rebellion is just another tag-line to take advantage of in the admen’s war against authenticity.

Teen marketing is the relatively new phenomena taking marketers straight to the heart of teenager’s identity. But traditional teenage revenues are not the only ones to be netted. The expanding market of nine to thirteen-year-olds, now known as “tweens” are being shaped according to the wishes of corporations worldwide, whereby the tweens themselves act as proxy sellers. [4] By nagging their parents to buy everything from cars to game-boys, designer clothes to skin care products, parents become secondary consumers under the insistence of their children. Marketing devices such as these ensure the sales go up while the teenager’s and pre-teen’s identity disappears under a barrage of targeted programming so precise that it can be likened to a large-scale military assault.

So insidious is this attack and so desperate its desire to keep pace with the child’s rising awareness of the media that it has expanded its scope to monopolize the disciplines of psychology and sociology in the quest to tame the wilderness of the child’s mind. Teen marketing has fleeced sciences for the requisite ammunition to better understand how to capture and sell the consciousness of the global youth. Each category of child is noted and assigned a place in the marketing strategy and all have differing types of market potential to exploit. As one advertising executive put it: “It isn’t enough to just advertise on television…. You’ve got to reach kids throughout their day–in school, as they’re shopping in the mall … or at the movies. You’ve got to become part of the fabric of their lives.” [5]


See also: Cultural insanity: Ponerized Western consumer culture is creating a demoralized man in psycho-spiritual crisis


Notes

[1] http://www.philipslater.com/
[2] ‘City Lights and Space Ads May Blind Stargazers.’ By Malcolm W. Browne, The New York Times, May 4 1993: “ A major uproar followed the announcement last month that Space Marketing Inc. o Roswell, Ga; in cooperation with Livermore National Laboratory in California and the University of Colorado planned to launch a one-mile wide display satellite into orbit around the earth. The spacecraft, made of thin plastic film, would reflect sunlight to Earth from aluminized letters or symbols.”
[3] Coercion – The persuasion professionals and why we listen to what they say By Douglas Rushkoff, (1999) Published by Little, Brown and Company. ISBN-0-316-854034.
[4] Branded – The Buying and Selling of Teenagers by Alissa Quart, 2003 | ISBN 0-09-945806-3.
[5] Carol Herman, Senior Vice President, Grey Advertising quoted in ‘Selling America’s Kids: Commercial Pressures on Kids of the 90’s,’Consumer’s Union, consumersunion.org.