Third Party & Independents Archives

​Don't Hide From the Amazon Drones - Go Shopping!

Did Black Friday leave you blue? Not conceptually, or not just psychologically, but also physically? Of course not, the line ups weren’t that bad and the pushing was isolated, and you probably have already done most of your Christmas Shopping … right?

Or maybe you like Cyber Monday seeing you do most of your shopping online?

Ok, imagine we're nearing 2030 and Amazon Prime is now called Zon-Singular because its enormous fleet of Cogni-3 Drones (3d generation cognitive level) have achieved what technology experts seem to like to call singularity; a cognitive ability similar to in creativeness but superior to in computational ability to our wonderful if flawed and all-too-human brains. Imagine they're a little quieter than the noisy critters we have in late 2017, and that they quickly and efficiently flow between huge supply warehouses and your back porch where you have installed a drone-pad. Made out of Kevlar, naturally. Flexible, tough, durable, etc.

If you can imagine such a world and can imagine yourself flourishing in such a world and happily staying inside or on your own property for much of the year because everything is delivered and you work from home, then one has to ask the following?

Are you still a conservative if you never venture out doors unless absolutely necessary?

Or are you a liberal?

Or are you a conservative who can't sell her home or his duplex and flee their progressive neighborhood? Or vice versa for a liberal living in a conservative neighborhood?

And do the drones know which one you are and adjust their deliveries accordingly?

In other words, what does it mean to be a conservative in the face of rapid technological change and its accompanying disruption? Having just finished reading Jonah Goldberg's meditation in National Review on how difficult (and by implication dangerous) it is to nail down a simple and consistent definition of what a conservative actually is, (especially when comparing conservatism across different societies and ages) this seems an impossible question to answer. But a few thoughts anyway.

From an American perspective, God-given natural rights are the fountainhead of freedom and the fundamental basis for all human dignity. That means that while freedom will produce incredible acts of creativity, it will also produce inequality. And both should be accepted, if within limits What those limits should be, of course, has been the basis of most political disagreements throughout the nation's political history.

But that may be changing. Does singularity - should it be achieved - mean conservative vs. liberal (progressive that is because liberal meant something very different 150 or 200 years ago) will be rendered obsolete? That even if you don't need to leave your home thanks to the eternally buzzing drones bringing you everything you need, you actually could venture out into your neighborhood because it no longer matters whether you're a conservative in a liberal barrio or vice versa?

How about this conservative answer? Singularity is just the latest utopia to be fetishized by radicals (in this case those in tech who herald this coming technological nirvana). There will be no real singularity because what it purports to achieve is unlikely, unproven, and almost certainly not attainable in any way they can imagine.

Will there be an increasing number of drone deliveries? Almost certainly. Will people want to move into neighborhoods where they feel more comfortable with their neighbors' political outlook? Yes, this will continue for some time, unfortunately but quite understandably. Will social capital be rebuilt in some communities but squandered in others? Yes, there will be communities that learn to accept each other's views, and others less likely to.

Will there be a utopia called Singularity? No. But singularity will be a conceptual and social pain just as every other radical utopia has been.

So be a little skeptical about tech forecasts, be as optimistic as you can reasonably bear to be about your neighborhood, and please don't hide inside your home because the drone air force is coming to bring you your breakfast cereal.

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