What kind of solutions do cyberfear stories suggest? One response to scary flashmobs is organized religion, according to one columnist. Gregory Kane sees idle time as the driver behind teen flashmobs, and recommends:
If those black mothers in Chicago didn't want to see their sons made examples, maybe they should have churched 'em up a little.
Cyberfear meets recession Gothic when Americans blame new technology for losing old jobs. It's the robots, the telepresence, the information systems which boot healthy humans from their positions, goes the narrative.
And what a terrible blow to the anthropic ego:
It’s not that robots are cheaper than humans, though often they are. It’s that they are better.
That Newsweek article is pretty canny. It notes that techno-fear, while mentioning that non-robotic outsourcing costs more jobs still. And it has a great photo (see left).
Finally, the author does offer a bit of tongue-in-cheek:
Is any job safe? I was hoping to say “journalist,” but researchers are already developing algorithms that can gather facts and write a news story. Which means that a few years from now, a robot could be writing this column. And who will read it? Well, there might be a lot of us hanging around with lots of free time on our hands.
Gregg is back on now, talking about how the blogosphere is changing things because now we're hearing loud voices speaking about their views, instead of rational voices, which don't get as much attention
[apparently a quote] I'm still optimistic that rational voices will be heard
It's a very brief comment, and a transcribed one, so it's easy to make too much of it. But given those hedges, it's an interestingly typical thought. The political process isn't to blame; blame the internet. Other media aren't too blame, either - tv is left out, which is probably to be expected, especially if the guy's older.
Great Recession Gothic, continued: one commentator says we're living in a fear-based economy.
I’m afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States. [I]t’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America.
The post is political, obviously. It opposes business and government:
… my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money.
The fear narrative is a bit counterintuitive, in that it ascribes fear to very powerful people: business owners and leaders. So to make the story work one has to imagine the Obama administration as a terrifying force, while allowing those companies some vulnerability. Note the author's repeated use of "demonization" and evocations of 20th-century Communist authoritarianism.
Fear takes work, but we're experienced in its deployment. Welcome to Planet Infocult.
Yes, you can snuggle down with cute little Dark Lord of terror and cruelty, complete with mutated eyes, warped skull, and snake sweater.
Lord Voldmort has a doe suede body made especially for him.
He is filled with soft fibre fill for a floppy but firm body. His limbs have been filled with the finest glass beads, topped with fibre fill and then safely sealed. His head is weighted and he will need support when lifted.
[T]he researchers handed over the instructions and taught the PCs a “machine-learning system so it could use a player’s manual to guide the development of a game-playing strategy.” They didn’t teach the PC how to play Civ, but they taught them how to read about it. ..
The computer started “reading” the manual and impementing tactics in-game, just like we used to before the days of streamlined tutorials. Its win ratio was boosted from 46 per cent to a reasonable 79.
Frankenstein's monster did much the same thing:
I discovered some papers in the pocket of the dress which I had taken from your laboratory. At first I had neglected them, but now that I was able to decipher the characters in which they were written, I began to study them with diligence. It was your journal of the four months that preceded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work...
The monster's other books are awesome, too. But there's an extra power to reading your creator's how-to of you.
A nuclear reactor in Japan was forced to shut down due to infiltration of enormous swarms of jellyfish near the power plant. A similar incident was also reported recently in Israel when millions of jellyfish clogged down the sea-water cooling system of the power plant.
Delightfully the article refers to these transcontinental attacks as "infiltrations." Clearly the jellyfish have had enough of us. We know this must be true, because a scientist tries to reassure us, and horror movies have taught us what that means:
"The several [power plant incidents] that happened recently aren't enough to indicate a global pattern. They certainly could be coincidental," LiveScience quoted Monty Graham, a jellyfish biologist and senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab off the Gulf Coast of Alabama...
Perhaps it's just this species, always appealing for its mixture of alien beauty and occasionally dangerous sting. Or maybe it's Gaia's slow but steady campaign of ecological correction. Either way, it's planet Gothic.