Vonnegut, Kurt - Player Piano
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
In 1952, Vonnegut released his first novel. Player Piano has a post-Third World War setting, in which factory workers have been replaced by machines. He satirizes the drive to climb the corporate ladder, one that in Player Piano is rapidly disappearing as automation increases, putting even executives out of work. His central character, Paul Proteus, has an ambitious wife, a backstabbing assistant, and a feeling of empathy for the poor.
Sent by his boss, Kroner, as a double agent among the poor - who have all the material goods they want, but little sense of purpose - he leads them in a machine-smashing revolution.
All we now appear to lack, in order to almost entirely fulfil this prophecy, is the machine smashing revolution; except that we suspect it may be a factory and government institution burning revolution, given what is now starting to emerge about the fraudulent behaviour and manipulation of statistics that has taken place around vaccines and other pharmaceuticals by the CDC, FDA and the pharmaceutical companies, leading to the injuries, brain damage and death of [it is currently calculated] 1 in 6 Americans.
And there is more.
In Player Piano, Vonnegut’s character the Shah of Bratpuhr, an outsider to this dystopian corporate United States, is taken to see the artificially intelligent supercomputer EPICAC.
The Shah asks it "what are people for?" and receives no answer.
The Shah then dismisses it as a "false god". For those following the AI developments and controversies over the past few years, this must have a truly prophetic hollow ring. I shall quote from a very interesting talk Joy is neither white nor male:
MIT grad student Joy Buolamwini was working with facial analysis software when she noticed a problem: the software didn't detect her face — because the people who coded the algorithm hadn't taught it to identify a broad range of skin tones and facial structures. Now she's on a mission to fight bias in machine learning, a phenomenon she calls the "coded gaze." It's an eye-opening talk about the need for accountability in coding ... as algorithms take over more and more aspects of our lives.
Even at the time Vonnegut’s books were written, the New York Times writer and critic Granville Hicks recognised their prophetic nature and compared Vonnegut’s prophetic views with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. And here is Elon Musk talking on TED
EM: …. I intend to stay with Tesla as far into the future as I can imagine, and there are a lot of exciting things that we have coming. Obviously the Model 3 is coming soon. We'll be unveiling the Tesla Semi truck.
13:31 CA: OK, we're going to come to this. So Model 3, it's supposed to be coming in July-ish.
13:38 EM: Yeah, it's looking quite good for starting production in July.
13:42 CA: Wow. One of the things that people are so excited about is the fact that it's got autopilot. And you put out this video a while back showing what that technology would look like.
13:57 EM: Yeah. There's obviously autopilot in Model S right now. …..Yeah, so this is using only cameras and GPS. So there's no LIDAR or radar being used here. This is just using passive optical, which is essentially what a person uses. The whole road system is meant to be navigated with passive optical, or cameras, and so once you solve cameras or vision, then autonomy is solved. If you don't solve vision, it's not solved. So that's why our focus is so heavily on having a vision neural net that's very effective for road conditions.
14:42 CA: Right. Many other people are going the LIDAR route. You want cameras plus radar is most of it.
14:47 EM: You can absolutely be superhuman with just cameras. Like, you can probably do it ten times better than humans would, just cameras.