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“What we’re living through is obvious in terms of our material and geographic reality, the image of multiplying our physical body, the importance of accessing society through information; something that worries a lot of people and for others is a dream come true. Machine will not substitute man, but it will make his life easier. The future is now and man must no longer adapt to the machine; he must become the machine.”
This was the premise that launched the “Utopia: Apocalyptic and Integrated” conference, given by Román Esqueda. With Bellas Artes serving as the location, the General Director of Neural Research, Investigación de Mercados S.C. with a PhD in Philosophy offered a friendly speech where he introduced topics relating to the current state of technology, advances in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Transmedia and remembering Umberto Eco and his book as a reference for those who accept technology and are capable of percieving a wide array of possibilities through these advances, as well as those who are skeptical and critical on the matter.
With absolute eloquence and full knowledge on the topic, Dr. Esqueda began by defining the terms “apocalyptic” and “integrated” as an old conceptual fetish that places the cultures of the masses, defined as the banal crowd (the “inferior”), on one side and the cultured aristocrats, those of envious culture and refined interiority (the “superior”) on the other.
From there, inspired by Eco’s book Apocalyptic and Integrated, which was published 50 years ago, Román Esqueda acknowledges that this altercation isn’t recent … it’s been expressed in different ways throughout history, from Plato all the way up to today. This is why, according to Eco, a “superman” attributes this will to elevate himself among the masses and establish a superior community distinguished for being “the only ones who understand and are safe: the only one who are not the masses”.
After briefly summarizing the approximation of technology to cinema, where he spoke of films such as 2001: A Space Oddyssey, with super-computer HAL as the protagonist, and The Terminator, with robots recognized as the enemy to beat, he got to The Matrix, a film that represents all the essential elements of the Apocalyptic and Integrated conceptual fetish: Technology appears as an instrument of hyper-massive reproduction of a virtual image: of totality; the masses are completely integrated into the Matrix, there is no salvation; and finally, only a few (super-men and women) apocalyptics strive to free the masses.
This lead Román Esqueda to explain cognitive neurosciences, where he exposes the mind/brain as the computing machine, as such human cognitive capabilities consist mostly of computing capabilities. This means that experiences and mental processes can be modelled as computer processes and can be simulated using scientific computers, a concept that sparked the first apocalyptic overtones among the audience. This eventually predicted the practical demise of professions, raising questions such as How difficult is it cognitively to “drive” a car? Is it possible for computers to substitute more complex activities such as thinking, writing, etc.? Can you substitute the production of political discourses?
In conclusion, with the creativity as the last beacon of what’s “human”, Dr. Esqueda was very clear about the implications of the apocalyptic, the defense of technology and the reality present in our daily lives, where we insist once more: Machine will not replace man, but it will make life easier. The future is now and man must no longer adapt to the machine; man must become the machine.