Monday, December 16, 2013

The Matrix is Real as a Metaphor

            The matrix is real. It is not real in the sense that we are all brains in jars. It is real in its artistic form as a metaphor. Art reflects the reality back at us in whatever form the artist wishes to express themselves. The matrix is a metaphor for the modern world. The matrix is a set of machines that have taken on a life of their own. The people that it uses and abuses for energy are interchangeable to "The Machine". Capitalism is like this in the sense that incentives and market forces pick the winners and losers far more than the best and brightest surfacing to the top. If you don't believe me that incentives and ruthlessness are more of a factor than being best and brightest, then I'll be happy to introduce you to my English major friends. I have lots of English major friends that the free market has kicked right up the rear end! Having something that is in demand is more likely to determine your success. The ones that go from poverty to the penthouse in this modern world are those clever enough to create the demand, then supply it.
            We must think above the matrix, or forever be locked into the system. The majority of Americans still think that being loyal to their company will bring them that wonderful corner office. Granted, this illusion was always a lie unless you were male and college educated in the 1950s. The system the world build post world war 2 was one built on money. The Europeans proved that they couldn't be trusted to not start wars. Worse, they became too dangerous with atomic weapons. Germany was working on an atomic bomb at the end of the war. A Third World War could not be risked. The United States founded mechanisms to tie the world together with money. The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, and the Federal Reserve (American's Central Bank) are all based in Washington D.C; that was not a coincidence that just happened! America had found a way to channel the warlike culture of Europe into commerce. Money was flowing and everyone was happy, but these systems have now become our masters as we buckle under their lust for more. The system had a good run, but it is now time to rethink the world once again.
             Incentives take on a life of their own, and humans become interchangeable as "The Machine" grows. Everyone keeps thinking that businesses are run by humans, which means we need to hold humans accountable. Yes and no. Yes, humans are still in control and need to be held accountable. However, greed always wants its way regardless of the talking puppet doing its bidding. This has led to a group at the top we will call big investors. These big investors live in their palaces. Everything has a reward and punishment. These people are completely removed from the consequences of their actions (environmental damage, poverty wages, etc). This class of people only look at the numbers and never see the faces of the people wearing their consequences. This class just moves their money from profitable business to another making more money. The profit incentive has caused whoever is ruthless enough to rise to the top in a dinosaur economy far outliving its usefulness. We keep thinking that people are running businesses, which is why we can appeal to their emotions. The problem is that there is no room for emotion in business, which means the profit incentive has removed those that are "weak" with emotions from leadership. This is why profit itself has taken on a life of its own.
            This current matrix has given us an upside as well. The saturated markets are so filled with stuff clogging our homes that an innovation race has begun. The goal is not to find a way to make it cheaper, faster, better. The goal is now to advance the technologies or products so far that it leaves your opponents in the Stone Age. The cell phone was just for phone calls until the smart phone blasted it into the last century. This has caused an innovation renaissance that has led to technology literally reinventing itself every few years. This is also how I believe the modern matrix can be broken without rebuilding society. We need to realize that we are all Neo in this matrix (Read my blog post Disadvantages to Advantages: Our Evolving Economy for more). We are living in an age with annoying old jackasses from the last century like the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch that still think the 1950s and treating your secretary like a play toy is the way everything should be. We cannot fight these entrenched forces inside their own matrix that they created, but we can take the whole system away from the dinosaurs destroying our economy and society.
            We are living in a technology renaissance, but still the masses fight each other for the chance to become a wage slave. The masses need to out innovate the current matrix to render it obsolete and those controlling it powerless. An obsolete economy will die. Those wielding this massive power will become irrelevant as the investor class begin to back the new rising economy (remember, the investor class just watches the numbers - nothing more). We are the technology generation living in a technology society. In the movie, the main character is called Neo, which means new. We have the chance to become a generation of complete innovation, which means the masses will buy our products instead of the products of the dinosaur economy. Technology is getting to a point where the masses can own the means of production.
            Historically, it is technology that has broken the old system and brought in the new. The printing press led to mass publication, which led to mass education and the Enlightenment. The rise of gunpowder weapons allowed soldiers to be trained within months instead of years, which rendered a warrior class of knights training for a lifetime useless and silly. The rise of 3-D printing could render old world polluting factories irrelevant, and bring specialized manufacturing to whatever country gets this technology into people's hands. Solar power could create countries were power companies sell a product produced literally out of thin air, which will render disgusting coal polluting power stations irrelevant! Also, think of the profits to be made from selling something that is produced without expensive fossil fuels or expensive coal. The savings alone would make it worth the trouble!
            Picture a world where the masses finally get to control the means of production. The goods and services of everyone being bought and sold on massive websites of commerce. Such a world is possible if we commit ourselves to innovation. The matrix we are living in now was technology drive with the printing press, gunpowder weapons, and the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution matrix broke the feudal system matrix. This matrix has had a good run, but it is now time to out innovate the dinosaurs and bring about a world that works for everyone. I am not saying it will be easy or perfect. I am not even saying the old matrix will go away (we still have a Queen of England and King of Sweden, don't we?). However, I am arguing that a new world that works for everyone is possible, and it has been technological innovation from the masses that has created it throughout history. Let us not fight the current matrix on its terms, because we will lose and they will be ready for us with riot police. Let us think above the matrix they have created for us and create a new world through our creativity and innovation. Let us once again use technology and innovation to render the old system irrelevant!

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