From the dizzyingly hedonistic Gold Rush that was the pre-Crash west to the liberal optimism of the Obama years, our generation has always been surrounded by the short-lived promise of a new and perfect world. Our orgiastic obsession with technology is just the latest such narrative of false hope.
To Elon Musk and his cabal of Silicon Valley snake-oil salesmen, the Internet, automation and artificial intelligence all have the potential to emancipate us from a life of stagnant wage slavery, and usher humanity into a future of boundless knowledge, freedom and creativity.
Our generation has enthusiastically swallowed this myth. With alarming passiveness, we’ve allowed technology to co-opt every facet of our day-to-day lives. We let Facebook tell us what to read and who to vote for. We barely raise a whimper as governments and corporations discover our deepest, basest desires. We watch while Fascists pollute our online spaces, taking advantage of the cacophonic confusion of the web age to gain a sense of political legitimacy. And as conventional politics falls apart, the economy uberizes, and we rush headlong into the fourth industrial revolution, the only thing left for us to cling on to are our lukewarm memes.
Ten years from now, when your unpaid internship has been given to a robot, don’t say I didn’t warn you. And don’t go running to Silicon Valley for help, lest you get hit in the face by a Juicero.