Man as machine in the twenty-first century.

We grew up with tales of the future. From Verne’s exciting adventures to Blade Runner’s dystopia we were given many options. Part of that narrative became that we were told, one day, it would be up to us to decide what the future would be.

Among the bleaker ideas are that a machine that would surpass humans. Perhaps prosthetics to aide us is a more positive notion. But why we would produce a machine with all the flaws of humanity?

The reverse though, a man as machine, is much more thoughtful. From Andy Warhol to the factory worker of the mid-century, we saw the fruition of this. We saw those machines desire escape though. The promise of the American dream and various available freedoms were crushed with the realities of financial chaos, jobs without growth, welfare systems under pressure, and the next generation being as screwed as the last. Aside from the ludicrous promises of gambling, or the escape of affairs and drugs, there is barely a crutch to stand with. And we see it in those people who were arranged by systems today as they realise they are treated as machines, like the musicians with the ruthless contracts who rebel, from Taylor Swift, to Tom Yorke, to Trent Reznor.

Today there is the new promise - the creative entrepreneur with their wealth. Perhaps these people are driven harder than anyone, and in the end serve as machines more than any other! They are not the old worker in the factory, instead they are the new machines, they progress the machines and systems in the same way a literal machine or system has changed. Machines though nonetheless.

Wasn’t that always the promise of a machine? To create something that would make humans lives easier. Isn’t the goal for so many retirement, to be successful doing as little as possible. To get a cheat sheet. We have apps so we don’t need to remember important dates (birthdays, anniversaries), the internet so you can forget 99% of what you were supposed to have learned (and now Wikipedia and Google interrupt every argument, from the meaningful down to trivia nights), and online education where people believe they will learn (yet the completion rates show otherwise).

What ever happened to Goethe, Da Vinci, to being driven by the work not the reward. The drive must be function not output in these cases. And it is the uniqueness of your function that changes that output. Only then does the function matter. Because unlike machines, the human wasn’t made with a function in mind, it simply is, the individual then deciding the function.