MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, August 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up, Cal Thomas on prophetic warnings about technology and humanity.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi movie classic The Matrix, which depicts powerful machines attempting to subdue the human race.
Sometimes art imitates life, and sometimes it’s the other way around. On occasion, art can be prophetic. The Matrix warns of a future in which the power and worth of the individual is subsumed into one giant interconnected world run by a tiny elite, who rob individuals of their liberty and ability to think freely.
In his new book, World without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, expands on the film’s warnings. Foer asserts that technology is replacing thought and relationships. He specifically warns of the goals of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other corporate tech giants, charging them with being “monopolists who want access to every facet of our identities and influence over every corner of our decision-making.”
There’s more, much more. He writes, “The tech companies are destroying something precious, which is the possibility of contemplation. They have created a world in which we are constantly watched and always distracted. Through their accumulation of data they have constructed a portrait of our minds, which they use to invisibly guide mass behavior (and increasingly individual behavior), to further their financial interests.” This, he believes, is a threat to thought and democracy.
Foer says these tech giants have a vision that supersedes their financial goals. That vision, he says, was hatched in the 1960s (though conceived by the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes in the 17th century). It includes a world without borders. It is their view that only they can save the world by concentrating all power in a select few. They see themselves as saviors of the world. In technology they—and we—must trust.
Students of Scripture will immediately think of the “anti-Christ,” who rises to power with the ability to perform miracles and who wins the allegiance of the Earth’s inhabitants; except he might not be a person at all. “He” might be a machine.
We have been warned before and are now being warned again in Foer’s excellent book. The tech giants openly state their goals. How many are listening?
In the final scene of “The Matrix,” Neo, the lead character and redeemer figure, says: “I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. … I’m going to show them … a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.