The Dynamics of Change, 1967
|So what happens then? What
happens when the "little black box" on your
bedside table is intellectually superior to you?
This brings us to another questionwhat is the interaction that takes place between a human organism at the interface where it joins the machines it designs, builds, and operates?
Historically, we have always learned to live with our artifacts. The motorcar, which once frightened men as well as horses, has become so much a part of our daily lives that to remove it now might destroy us utterly. Radio and television, other machine systems have become the chief sources of our experience of the auditory and visual worlds. (To realize how much we have integrated machine systems with human living, just try, as this writer once did, to live completely alone for ten days without people or any of these machines. It is a shattering and decomposing psychological and emotional experience.)
In this section, we have used the image of the motorcycle rider as a symbol of the man/machine symbiosis. Here, man and machine share life and death together; each becomes the expression of experience for the other.
Somedaynot too far from nowpeople will "ride" their personal computers with all the excitement that the motorcycle rider feels when he storms down the long tunnel of the night. We will, with computers, explore our mental world with a something that shares, amplifies and defines our experience. In doing so, it will help us define ourselves as human personalities.
|Life survives in the chaos
of the cosmos by picking order out of the winds.
Death is certain, but life becomes possible by following patterns that lead like paths of firmer ground through the swamps of time. Cycles of light and dark, of heat and cold, of magnetism, radioactivity, and gravity all provide vital guides, and life learns to respond to even their most subtle signs. The emergence of a fruit fly is tuned by a spark lasting one thousandth of a second; the breeding of a bristle worm is co-ordinated on the ocean floor by a glimmer of light reflected from the moon; the development of the eggs of a quail is synchronized by a soft conversation between the embryos; conception in a woman waits for that phase of the moon under which she was born. Nothing happens in isolation. We breath and bleed, we laugh and cry, we crash and die in time with cosmic cues.
Inorganic matter got together in the right way to create a self-perpetuating organism that started a system of elaboration that has produced a pattern with several million pieces. This is Supernature, and man sits at the center of its web, tugging at the strands that interest him, following some through to useful conclusions and snapping others in his impatience. Man is the spearhead of evolution, vital, creative, and immensely talented, but still young enough to wreak havoc in his first flush of enthusiasm. Hopefully this period of awkward adolescence is coming to an end as he begins to realize that he cannot possibly survive alone, that the web of Supernature is supported by the combined strength of a vast number of individually fragile fragments, that life on earth is united into what amounts to a single superorganism, and that this in turn is only part of the cosmic community.
At first sight, the process of evolution looks extremely wasteful, with most developments running into the dead ends of extinction, but even in their failure these contribute something to the few species that do succeed. It is imperative that there should be a multitude of participants so that life can move on a broad front, testing all possibilities in a search for the right ones. Even those that die have not lived in vain, because of the inheritance of Supernature. This communion is possible because life shares a mutual sensitivity to the cosmos, has a common origin, and speaks the same organic language.
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