Warning: Singularity is formatting


(You can read it here in Spanish)

“If you dislike anything massive, you are a boring, arrogant, and cheesy person”, Elvira Lindo writes against mass culture in his timely article “The cobra of the people” published in El País. Debate on this subject is not new: it’s been revived in recent years by intellectuals such as Mario Vargas Llosa or Antonio Muñoz Molina. The fact is that much of what we now consider culture, including art, music, literature and cinema, is pure commercial junk with no more value than its market one (say, that determined by the simple concurrence of suppliers and demanders put on the same ground regardless of their sensitivity, talent and knowledge).

Topic stating that there is nothing written about tastes and that truths in this realm are relative seems correct. In his Critique of Judgment, Kant argued that aesthetic truths are at once subjective and universal, since each person has his or her own but expects the rest of the world to share them. However, it’s undeniable that there are some objective aesthetic principles – e.g., order and symmetry – that seem to be embedded in cosmic laws. Order and symmetry in a piece of Mozart are much greater than in a random series of noise. When it comes to objectively qualifying a work of art, there are also other criteria such as emotional depth (not the same in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” than in Andy Warhol’s Mickey Mouse serials), originality (I find Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo very different from the latest best-seller on Templar conspiracies or vampires) and technical or performance skills (very different Eric Clapton from the typical boy band guitar player).

This is a trite debate where nobody pretends to reinvent the wheel, but now comes the point: What would happen if the Singularity foreseen by Ray Kurzweil, that sort of bionic Superinternet fruit of the network connection between human brains, Internet and Artificial Intelligence, was eventually born this century? We would be dealing with something new, in the face of an emerging phenomenon of unsuspected and surely unimaginable characteristics: a superconsciousness whose motives might have little to do with our human (i.e., animal) ones. For the same reason that even the most rudimentary computer does not conceive that two plus two could be anything than four, that very conscious superintelligence could devote itself to a systematic screening of the Internet to purge it of errors and improper content (let’s not forget that more than 90% of the web is junk: insults, untruths, misunderstandings, inaccuracies and nonsense of all kinds). Anything contradicting well-contrasted truths like “animals and plants has a common ancestor”, “the Universe is about 13.8 billion years old” or “Elvis Presley died in 1976” would have no place in the new Singularity-managed Internet. “Humans were created by God in his image and likeness”, “the Universe is 6 thousand years old” and “Elvis Presley is still alive in 2017” would only find room under the heading “fiction”, next to the Cortázar’s cronopios, the alternative world created by Bioy Casares in La trama celeste (where Carthage destroyed Rome) and the adventures of Michael Knight with his fantastic car.

But it could go much further than purging entries in Wikipedia, blogs and websites, deleting troll rubbish and spam: we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that this superconsciousness could also make an aesthetic cleaning. Would it put on the same ground a symphony of Beethoven and “Gangnam Style”, a text of Jorge Luis Borges and one of Dan Brown, a work of Goya and one of Damian Hirst, Black Mirror and an afternoon B movie? … And why should it not conclude with certainty that this capitalist casino system is morally deplorable and environmentally unsustainable (and that something must be done accordingly), why should it not consider wrong -and proceed to its immediate annulment – a democratic election like that of Donald Trump or the latest Filipino president? Why should it not arrogate itself the handling of psychopaths, sadists or harmful people with very few scruples (sending them to virtual worlds where they can do no harm, or even getting rid of them)?

Thanks to the Singularity we could have a substitute of Final Judgment (for humanity as we have known it, because transhuman life would have begun to take its first steps). And it would be an integral final judgment: intellectual, aesthetic and moral. Although it may well happen that the Singularity finds some usefulness now completely elusive to us – so crude information processors due to our cerebral limitations – in intellectual, aesthetic and moral filth.


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