This was the first thought that slammed into my head a few days ago as I came upon the exit for the parking lot at The Grove, a mall in Los Angeles that resembles greatly the contrived fakery and designer-imitation facade of some of the fancier hotels in Las Vegas. And as if a train had smacked right into me, the rush of this realization and amazement perforated my bones.
I stopped cold and just stared at the spectacle…
Reaching out, I stopped my friend who was walking beside me and made him look as well, hand on chest as if he were about to walk over a cliff.
“Look!” I exclaimed, excited as I pointed toward the fray. “The robots have taken control!”
There in front of us, just twenty or so feet ahead, lay four traffic lanes which wound along from the upper levels of the parking garage. Each lane ended at the pay stations where money was collected for the fees that we must pay for patronizing businesses that seemingly don’t have to do anything to keep their customer’s coming back for more – except to over-build corporate warehouses dispensing cheaply made disposables and foodstuffs no more nutritious or better tasting than the 45% recycled cardboard packaging it gets sold in, while killing any hopes of local merchants to ever possibly undersell them.
Now, ordinarily this wouldn’t have been of any shock value, as the somehow patient drivers pay their fees to a barely legal man or woman in an unmistakably out of place and slightly yellow around the collar white dress shirt and tie. But this time was different. It had been a good 8 months since I had been to The Grove, and since that time a drastic and insidious change had taken place. The booths that usually housed the aforementioned parking collection agents had been torn out of place, and what remained was a shocking testament to the sheep-like nature of my fellow human consumers. In place of the booths sat four automated pay stations – poles that had a pay-box attached which accepted Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, or any prepaid parking tickets (God forbid we use cash) and a stop bar which lifted up when each ticket was paid and went back down again for each new human eager to pay the machine for the privilege of exiting the parking structure.
No human life was present in this payment area, though a call button and speaker were attached to each box in case the stationary robot needed some assistance from it’s pre-assigned human-maintenance-drone. I suppose the unemployment rate goes up every time these machines are installed.
We eyed the line of cars waiting to exit, lined up beyond the curvature of the second level of the parking structure and who knows how far back into the bowels of the garage. Only one bar would raise at a time to allow one car through, and the others would not budge until their three neighboring robotic arms were in the downward and locked position. This process took about ten seconds for each individual mechanical cycle. The drivers sat patiently in their automobile-transport-machines as if they did not even consider the ludicrous nature of their dispositions to be anything at all abnormal or indeed even slightly torturous. No anger, no complaints. No honking. Not even the twiddling of anxious thumbs.
But then, who would they be honking at anyway… the robots?
Was there a robotic complaint department for these immortally patient and mechanically stoic guardians of our freedom to travel?
Was this sedentary acceptance of robotic control a sign of the machine dominated society we are being trained to live in and even to somehow enjoy?
When we were finally able to peel our eyes away from this maddeningly impossible scene, we both resigned to the fact that even as we poked fun at the zombie-like hoards of waiting drivers, we too would be subject to this same tortuous wait as we attempted to leave the parking garage. And so in a defeated yet still fascinated state of mind, we maneuvered our vehicle into the twisted queue of compliant credit card holders and waited for our chance to mechanically transfer money to one of these guardian robots – a mechanical representation of just how controlled we really are.
From this point on and for the next couple of days, I became extremely aware of other robotic and mechanically controlled aspects of our daily lives. And I’d like to share with you a bit of insight into what I now realize is the completely computerized and electronically controlled society that we live in…
As we pulled out into the sunlight of the gorgeous spring day from the parking garage, we were immediately told to stop by a traffic light 20 yards out, which shined its halting red L.E.D. bulbs at us. Instinctively and without question, we stopped. A green light signaled the cars to the left of us that they were now permitted to turn in front of us, since it had commanded us to stop. After a while, we too received permission in the form of a green light and were free to travel about fifty yards until we reached the next stoplight! After about ten of these automated signals, which are like robotic cowboys herding the sheep-like drivers around town, we finally made it home.
Our garage like so many others has a remote control automatic garage door opener. I press a button, and the computer receives a signal which activates the robotic circuitry that opens the garage door. Strangely, if the battery dies on the remote control I am locked out of my garage, since there is no way to open it without the robots assistance. Helplessness by computer design.
On other occasions, if I want to park my car on the street, I pull into a designated space and read the signs to make sure my parking job is in compliance. And in order to ensure that compliance, a little robot stands guard at each parking space on each of our main streets. These are called meters. And as we are gleefully grateful to even find parking on the crowded street, we pump our loose change into these robotic guardians and are allotted a specific time period for each denomination of coin. We must limit our activities according to what that robot says is the allotted time limit for us to park in its space, or risk a citation for violation of that particular robots programing.
Of course, these robots can’t enforce their mechanical rules by themselves (at least not yet!) and so the human-maintenance-workers called “parking enforcement police” (which are usually a private corporation paid for by tax dollars and not actually police) come along in their automobile-transport-machines or on cute little bicycles and hand out tickets. These tickets are produced by hand-held robotic citation machines, which spit out the tickets once the human-maintenance-worker enters in the information displayed by the violating automobile-transport-machine’s license plate. The robot then prints the ticket and assigns the fine, and the human-maintenance-worker then places the computer generated citation onto the automobile-transport-machine’s windshield.
So in essence, we are forced to pay for our machine being parked against another machines rules, by which a third machine gives us a receipt of our first machine’s indiscretion.
Likewise, robotic cameras are now posted at just about every major intersection. These automatic citation and revenue generating machines take a picture of your automobile-transport-machine as it trips a robotic sensor that indicates to the robotic camera that you have committed a violation of the traffic rules. It then sends that digital photograph through a computerized network of machines and a citation is then automatically printed by a machine and sent to your address after being robotically sorted and delivered by one of the other human-maintenance-workers called a “postal worker” from the post office.
The question I have is this… Who do I call as a witness to prove that the robot took that picture at the correct time? Yellow is not red. If I want to dispute this citation, I can’t very well argue with a robot that is welded to the top of a metal pole on Main Street, now can I? And the judge in a court of supposed law would say something like, “computers don’t lie.” or “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
In other words we have a system in place that, through the use of robots, machines, computers, and all sorts of non-human interactive enforcement tools, we as humans are screwing each other over without even comprehending the fact that we are as unfeeling as the very machines we use to hurt each other.
In fact no… we are actually worse than the machines!
We actually enjoy screwing each other over with these robots as our tools to do so. We enjoy inflicting hardship on others and it somehow makes us feel good to hurt each other. My God, at least the machines don’t have control over their actions…
Most of us have already resigned to this fate, without even comprehending that this robot control grid is in place. And so instead of standing up and saying no, we pay our fines online. We access our digital bank accounts through our computers, and are permitted the convenience of funding our robotic rulers through the use of technology. There is however usually a convenience fee attached to this mechanical transaction. And while we are online, we shop and buy, buy, buy up everything that those pesky little pop-ups throw at us.
And so life has been reduced to either complying with or steering clear of robots – a continuous sitcom of cheerful acceptance and fearful avoidance. And when our luck runs out and we forget to comply, we voluntarily permit these robots and computers to take our hard-earned money. Apparently, this is the same as making human or animal sacrifices to appease the angry gods of old. Only this time they are digital.
If for some reason we actually want to feel that ever declining sense of freedom and anonymity that comes with using cash, we must go get money out of the bank. And so, we go and use an ATM, forgetting that this is short for “Automated Teller Machine”. And so another stationary robot gives us our money. If this isn’t a clue to our plight, I don’t know what is!
Automated… Teller… Machine…
Now, my mom still goes inside of the bank (a small local bank) and talks to a couple of human tellers that actually recognize and know her by name. This is not the same as the automated teller, who in a pre-programed sub-routine prints your name on the screen and then maybe on your receipt as it thanks you for your patronage. Not the same at all! I use to think that this ritual of getting out of your car and actually interacting unnecessarily with other human-maintenance-workers was just downright silly, and it reminded me of those older out-dated television shows like “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Leave It To Beaver”. And so I would constantly bug her about getting an ATM card and getting modern. I suppose, now that I think about it, that this programming of morals and values out of the newer generations like mine has been almost a complete success, as our interpersonal skills are now completely opposite of just one or two generations past. But now, as I see our total dependence on machines and robots coming closer to fruition, I have a deeper appreciation for the good feeling my mom must have felt when she walked through those automatic bank doors, checked her digital watch for the date, turned off her cell phone, and put her calculator back into her purse after she had balanced her checkbook and transferred it to her Palm… how that short, human interaction and acknowledgment must have felt. And, with digital receipt in hand and mechanical pen tucked tightly back into her purse, she probably reveled in the niceties and formalities of hello’s, goodbye’s, and see-ya-next-time’s that she was so used to from these familiar human-maintenance-workers.
In the same way, I can now check myself out at the grocery store. No need of human interaction, I can just roll my product’s bar code over the scanner and once again pay the robot with cash or credit. I even get the privilege of bagging my own groceries! No more pesky customer service representatives to assist me in my hour of need… no, now these customer service reps are only there to service the machines in which we are being trained to interact with on an almost unlimited basis.
If I want to ride da bus, I got’s to pay the machine! While a seasoned, tough looking human-maintenance-vehicle-driver with scars and cellulite somehow drives and gives you the stink eye at the same time as you scrap for change, you must pay your fare or show your pre-paid pass to the robot money collector, swiping it into the card reader for your convenience – which is tracked for, ah, monetary accounting and, ah… homeland security purposes of course. The driver is there to ensure your compliance with the machine.
If I get hungry and want to eat, and the nearest store is a whole block and a half away, I can just go to the lobby and find a vending machine. And, with no thought of how the carefully arranged and digitally coded food stuffs came to appear in said vending machine, I can simply insert cash or credit into the robotic food vendor – I give the big mechanical robotic box my money. I then pick an alphanumeric code which represents my desired processed pre-packaged poison, and then watch in wonder as the robotic food vending machine comes to life and delivers my desired food-like object. And as easy as 1,2,3, my hunger is curbed as I peal back the neatly packaged, healthy, and nutritious snack full of High Fructose Corn Syrup, a bit of Aspartame to prolong the flavor, MSG to add to the full gambit of excito-toxin poisons in my meal, and a bit of dextrose to break that pesky blood-brain barrier. And hey, I might even get some change back!
In the good old days, when towns were small and neighbors would lend a helping hand in times of need, we remembered our way around and counted on street signs and good old fashioned directions to find our way. Today, we must triangulate our orbital positioning satellite robot helper named GPS to help us find our way. We can choose a male or female GPS, and listen to our portable robots in most languages. Always so eager to be a backseat driver, the projected digital simulation of a man’s or woman’s voice electronically speaks delighting yet coldly stoic directions as it guides us down a twisted path of pitfalls and u-turns as we finally make our way to the local grocery store… the one we’ve been going to for the last six years!
After we tell our doctor what is ailing us and what our symptoms are, and after he pretends to know what he is doing by hitting our knee with a small triangular rubber hammer even though we only have a stomach ache, he faithfully turns to his trusted medical computer and begins to type away. And after entering all of the required personal data into the correct digital fields, even as old medical books sit as relics collecting dust on the shelf near by, the computer spits out a recommendation and a prescription, in which none of us should kid ourselves into thinking that this information is coming from anywhere but the pharmaceutical companies themselves. And when the side effects from the recommended pharmaceutical medicine take their tole on our bodies, not to worry… for the computer has a pill for that too. And after taking one medication for the original ailment, another to treat the symptoms of the first pills, and yet another to treat the unexpected complications of the second regiment, we look up in a natural healing book that the original symptoms were simply a lack of eating nutrient high foods, and that a few bananas would have fixed the problem!
We watch movies and television, and play video games that take us through vast imaginary worlds and through space and time itself. Yet when we are asked to point to a large country on a paper map or globe, we can’t even imagine where that country might be. We sit inside, pasty white and un-showered, while the sun sets and the moon rises. Our television and computers are our “Second Life“. And a sick day at work doesn’t mean a sick day from the TV! And the digital images of humans with apparently no soul are shown to us, making our normal non-robotic lives seem boring and as if they are not complete without our robotic counterparts and entertaining innovations.
And now, in the most insane twist of robotic control and love, we are being sold on the idea of being micro chipped. R.F.I.D… The ultimate tracking, surveillance, and human/computer interfacing tool. With virtually no side effects (except cancer, identity theft, and a total loss of freedom, anonymity, and independence) the R.F.I.D. seems to be the wave of the future! All of my medical records, financial statements, bank accounts, membership information, personal statistics, sexual desires, brand loyalties, marketing strong points and weaknesses, immunization records, travel history, and anything else the robots would like to have about me can be data-mined on this little cancerous radio frequency identification chip.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Now the machines will know that I am meeting in private with other like minded individuals, and the robots can call in the human-maintenance-workers called “military police” to break up what will now be called an unlawful gathering. Digital permits will no doubt be issued when you want to go somewhere. And if you hate commercials now… wait until you see the personalized advertising that will appear as you walk by the R.F.I.D. readers in your local shopping centers. And with the perfection of ultra high and ultra low sound wave manipulation, this stuff can be beamed right into your head! At least, that’s what the patent says. Check it out at the Dept. Of Defence here: http://www.dodtechmatch.com/DOD/Patent/PatentView.aspx?id=6470214
And you thought this was only the stuff of science fiction writers. Ha!
When you think about it, everything from our checking accounts to our cell phones to our job is based on robots, machines, and computers. For instance, whatever your current job is, what ever your field of work is… what would happen if the power went out tomorrow and you had no computer or robot or machine to do your work on? I think you would be hard pressed to find a job that isn’t dependent on these machines and technology, from 7-11 to farming and dairy production to accounting and law. We are nothing but human-data-entry-computer-robot-maintenance-workers. We work for the computers and the robots, not the other way around. We pay them, we obey them, we trust them, and we love them. We love the servitude that they provide. We are so entranced with the services and conveniences they permit us that we can’t comprehend the fact that we are completely enslaved by them.
In fact, I wonder what would happen if you took all of the police and other human-enforcement-maintenance-workers out of the equation? It seems to me that we, or most of us, would go right on putting money in the meters, stopping at the stoplights, paying our computer-generated fines, paying our taxes online, obeying the posted rules and limits, and never even noticing that the robots are regulating and running our lives for the benefit of the small rich elite who profit from this system of total robotic and technological control of our every day lives. As long as we could see our fellow humans reading their scripted news and entertainment through our magic television screens, everything would probably just go on as normal, but without the human touch.
In conclusion, we are at this point mere cattle being herded around by technologically enhanced robots. We do this voluntarily, and many of us have jobs fixing, enforcing, and acting in a supporting role for these robots. We have a sick sense of duty to these robots, and actually enjoy the consequences of this tyranny as we enforce fines and even imprisonment on those who do not obey the robots. And we love our slavery, because it makes us not have to think about anything but ourselves.
The matrix is all around you.
Just open your eyes and you will see it.
Clint Richardson (realitybloger.wordpress.com)
Thursday, March 25, 2010