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Adam Curtis strikes again

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:18 pm
by Neil Foxlee

Re: Adam Curtis strikes again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:37 am
by Jonathan E.
Fascinating article. This is how it ends (almost; there's a little more with a video clip in closing):
In the 1960s both the counter culture on the political left, and the promoters of a market based democracy on the right, said that the individual and their inner feelings were the motor of society.

And behaviourism was dead.

But now it is back - and not just in Downing Street. I have a suspicion that the politicians' revival of the old behaviourist ideas and techniques will be helped and reinforced by a powerful ally - the machines we have built.
The computers.

In our age of individualism we see computers as ways through which we can express our individuality. But the truth is that the computers are really good at spotting the very opposite.

The computers can see how similar we are, and they then have the ability to agglomerate us together into groups that have the same behaviours. And from that they can predict what choices and decisions we will make.

And they do it solely through our observed behaviour.

In 1964 B F Skinner wrote a utopian vision of the future called Beyond Freedom and Dignity. It argued that the idea of individualism was actually a terrible prison.

By following only our own inner desires and feelings human beings limit themselves, Skinner said, to a narrow, dessicated existence. Your feelings are not good, in reality they are horrible little demons that live inside you and possess you.

Skinner said that his techniques of "operant conditioning" could free human beings from those demons. And their behaviour would be modified so as to engineer a completely new kind of society. It was not fascism. It was a new kind of liberation.

And it is only our belief in our individual authenticity that is holding us back.

Worth reading the whole thing. Challenges various concepts some may hold dear, supports and reinforces others.

The only thing I know that's really, really, really worth knowing is that the human mind is astonishingly plastic and can be convinced of virtually any line of crap you care to take the trouble to program it with. But then I read a lot of fiction and so this should hardly be news.

Re: Adam Curtis strikes again

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:17 pm
by Chris P
Save Your Kisses For Me