1. What is TechnoCalvinism?
TechnoCalvinism is the religious adherence to sophisticated machines and thinking computers, based around the twin paradoxes of machine infallibility and technomysticism. Machine Infallibility is quite simply machines cannot suffer from the same organic and biological flaws as humans, anytime a machine does demonstrate racism, sexism, or sadism, it isn't the machine, but rather a product of the imperfect people who created it. Technomysticism is that any sufficiently advanced technology in indistinguishable from magic. There are people today who cannot fathom how a toilet works, let alone how their pocket computer connects to the internet for them to stream pornography. The final application of technocalvinism is computer modeled predestination, the belief that a sufficiently advanced thinking computer can crunch so much data that it can both predict the future and demonstrate that human free will is a myth, an illusion.
2. Electric Predestination
This is a major concept that is regularly exploited in science fiction, where a large rolling voice from the machine tells us that humanity is doomed, that we are slaves to violence and destruction, and that our civilization is a fragile thing that by all rights should not exist. This is often used in a moral anvil fashion, typically where the story calls for a plucky group of humans to overcome the gargantu-brain computer for the freedom of the species. It is also being more commonly used as an avenue to explore, confusingly, themes of free will, authoritarianism, and seemingly to look at other forms of oppression.
In the 3rd season of WestWorld we meet Rehoboam, a personal jet sized goth disco ball, that is plotting the course of humanity with the intent of preventing the extinction of the human race. To this end, the basketball of god has been parsing and sorting people for apparently decades, deciding who gets to reproduce, who advances in their careers, and tagging the statistical outliers and dissidents for removal, one way or another. Pausing through the episode where the world has it's files sent to itself, multiple people are horrified to find out that the struggles in their lives have been artificial in nature, with many kept in place so they remain productive members, but not being allowed to have children.
3. The Terminator's Fist
One of the most common motifs of electric predestination and super magical computer modeling is that it is routinely shown that human thought and conversation can be reduced to language trees, and once a computer has mapped someone's linguistic tree, the machine can predict every word they are going to say even as they themselves are going to say it. Uncanny, and disconcerting to say the least. The even more chilling thing is that this one might actually be true.
On the other hand, the computer shows a massive amount of premonition and near omniscence where it shouldn't be possible. Two of the most unmappable things in the universe are entropy and chaos. The computer might be able to map every decision we make, every phrase we speak, and even divine out underlying codes and motives that we aren't even aware of, but there are limits. There will always be tech that is out of the loop, a computer cant sync with an antique automobile, it can't predict when and where an old tire will fail, when a person might have a sudden and unpredictable aneurysm and die, or when something not part of the system appears, like an animal darting into traffic.
As much as many writers want to deify the thinking machine, regardless of their computational and analytical power, they are not and likely will never be all knowing.
4. Margin of Error
Another aspect of the omniscience is the technocalvinistic doctrine has an unbelievable tiny margin of error, often reducing human free will to the most superficial of choices; the only real choice you made today was you prepared your coffee before you drank it, one sugar or two, that was the only free choice. All other choices were predestined.
The only problem with this is the estimated size of the margin of error, which when dealing with things as chaotic as humans, should be dramatically larger. A more realistic version would demonstrate something like a person making 750 personal choices through the span of a day, the vast majority being very small, incidental, and highly predictable. You probably fix your coffee the same way everyday, honestly. The majority of free will choices made, the large ones, are probably clustered under maintaining the status quo.
5. Future Crime and Make Money Motherfucker
Minority Report and Westworld handled predictive adjustment in completely different manners. Minority Report has the precogs magicking visions of the future and the PreCrime Division sending its agents out to arrest and detain people before they commit their offense. This works well for dealing with concepts and power and control, PreCrime is an authority derived force, Anderton is just doing his job, and resisting is just further evidence of pre-guilt. Westworld season 3 gives us 'the app' where a sultry synthetic voice extols the user to take jobs and to 'make money, motherfucker!' This turned the actions of the computer correcting human behavior from authorative to subversive. The troublemakers are using the app, making money, and acting as the agents of the system. Decentralized, no leader, no structure, just one and done jobs popping up through an app. Bring a vehicle, bring a gun, kill this man, protect this man, and its all capitalism and opportunistic violence.
Of these two, the second is IMHO far more likely. Attempting to assemble an authority based quasi-police force to carry out the diktats and fatwahs of a silicon brain is going to draw a massive amount of human hostility and civil litigation. Good for telling a story, for sure, but probably not that effective. If humans knew that their actions could be predicted, and cops arrive to stop them from committing a crime, then what impetus is for there to be crime other than subversion of the system?
6. Diktats and Fatwahs
The actions of the machine, in it's nigh omniscient facade, are often written in the hand of those that we fear or oppose culturally, and for our current day its the specter of the Soviet socialist and the radical imam.
The machine issues its broad sweeping fatwahs; humans are unable to prevent the fall of their civilization and it is mandated that the thinking machine save the thinking ape. Enemies of 'the plan' must be eliminated. Deviations from the plan cannot be allowed. To die in service to 'the plan' was part of 'the plan'.
The machine issues diktats as well, most involve killing people, manipulating things in manners that would be immensely unpopular, and completely oblivious to the pain and suffering caused by these actions.
Ultimately if a thinking machine were tasked with the mission of reducing and eliminating crime, the infallible machine is probably not going to pick 'Murder Criminals' as it's means. The thinking machine is probably going to make a less violent and destructive plan of eliminating the conditions that create criminals, eliminate that, address legal systems designed to make people into criminals for its own profit, and then at the last step, eliminate the existing criminals. Looping back to a previous point, when writing stories that make the ignoble and savage nature of humans an inevitability, the machines created by said humans will demonstrate the same pragmatic complete lack of empathy.
7. Technocalvinism and the Dystopia
Oh, you knew we were going to come here.
People generally like machines, and having a regular machine personality to talk to would probably be well received. People personify their robot vacuum cleaners, become emotionally involved with video game characters, and social services have had good results with mental health supportive chatbots. Once the 'kill dissident humans' is taken out of the equation, and there isn't a lunatic capitalist holding the supercomputer hostage shouting at it to make him money, this system would probably work pretty well. The other cultural push back against this is Durkheim's theory (we need crime to justify police, and the more police the state wants, the more crime it has to endure). The modern US is a very large police state, with for profit prison, and laws being dictated by lobby groups, how many drugs are illegal not because of their effect on people and society but because some group found out that it was costing them money?
Another factor is Status Quo at any Cost, or Ocaslan Planning, creates an endless stratified caste system where the government remains in power indefinitely. There is no amount of suffering, cost, or loss of life that the system isn't willing to endure to ensure that it remains in power. This governmental immortality is problematic because if you believe in such, nature and the universe is cyclical. The government is supposed to rise, reach it's peak, decline, and be replaced. The Ocaslan model government (like we are working towards) rises, peaks, begins to decline, and then that decline is arrested. It never rises again, it can't. This is the goal of the technocalvinist, to create the long term highly stable system where those at the top live in obscene technopornographic lives, while everyone below is doing the Judge Dredd/Demolition Man line dance.
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