Theater of Cruelty

A perpetual growth curve of incessant technological innovation from Tesla's Elon Musk, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and a host of other tech moguls

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future
Critical settlement with the belief that technology can solve all of humanity's problems in artist and theorist James Bridle's new book.


Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, sounds familiar. And after one of the hottest summers ever with month-long heat waves, countless new heat records, widespread drought, uncontrollable forest fires and other apocalyptic weather phenomena, the weather is on everyone's lips again. Fortunately, there are only a few nutcase back – for example, Trump – who is not yet convinced that the increasingly violent weather phenomena can best be explained with reference to anthropogenic climate change that should be addressed as a collective, global problem. But instead of worrying about the overwhelming scientific evidence, Trump chooses to declare the "idea" of global warming for a Chinese-led conspiracy against American business.

Criticism of tech faith

With Trump at the helm of one of the world's largest and most polluting wheel steamers, it's hard not to see the dark clouds that collapse on the horizon and herald a New Dark Age, as the title reads on an excellent new book by London-based artist, theorist and (extremely diligent) writer James Bridle. The book carries the subtitle Technology and the End of the Future, and can best be understood as a critical settlement with an automated stupidity, a blinded belief that technology can solve all of humanity's problems from global poverty to climate change. Bridle thus justifies criticism of a widespread idea of ​​progress, where history is thought of as "a curve that always moves upwards and to the right". Of course, we know this notion of a perpetual growth curve of incessant technological innovation from Teslas Elon Musk, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and a host of other tech moguls who have built their businesses and world views around this promise of happiness. But we also know this progress optimism from a series of recent attempts by the Left to rethink the future from a so-called accelerationist point of view, where the task is to make every effort to accelerate a somewhat dubious political demand for state-subsidized "full automation".

A critical settlement with automated stupidity, an abiding belief that technology can solve all of humanity's problems, from global poverty to climate change.

Bridle, sensibly, takes aim at both wings of this progress belief and delivers an updated (albeit less philosophically sophisticated) version of Adorno's and Horkheimer's cultural criticism in The dialectic of Enlightenmentbut plus the climate change perspective, you could say. Bridle's core argument that we live in a new dark age is also structured around this particular dialectic between progress and backward, between reason and madness, which we know so well from the main work of critical theory. But the criticism of big-cap entry into the cultural and entertainment arenas is no longer centered on the potentially regressive of jazz or audio, but rather about how, for example, YouTube autoplayalgorithms direct children's attention from Peppa Pig to bestial execution scenes, the kind ...

The cloud as a metaphor

The book is somewhat elaborately built around ten chapters, all starting with C, from Chasm, Computation, Climate and beyond to the book's final chapter Cloud. And precisely the cloud connects climate change and extreme weather phenomena to the Internet, that is the material moisture meter shows you the central metaphor for our time, Bridle points out. But the cloud is not just such a nice little white one hovering in the clear blue sky that we know from the Dropbox icon, for example, but rather a figure for a fast-growing industry, with a «phone line infrastructure, fiber optics, satellites, undersea cables, and giant warehouses crammed with computers that consume vast amounts of water and energy, "which accelerate biospheric meltdown and change the climate and weather so significantly that it can be read on the sky phenomena themselves; Meteorologists, for example, have had to name a new frequently occurring cloud formation, so-called A homogenous pile (manmade clouds).

"Everyone looks at the same sky but sees different things." Some see a clear blue sky, others a lurking climate disaster, and still others a tissue of chem-trails and CIA conspiracies: The climate crisis is therefore also a kind of science crisis, Bridle writes. Trump, as a kind of front figure for a conspiratorial inclined alt-right-moving movement the dark web to the The White House, personifies if anyone this crisis. With his insane and unpredictable outcomes on Twitter and Fox News, Trump appeals to the "little man" to the great system of opinion makers (the media and climate scientists) and is thus a pervasive protest against the sense of cognitive power that many naturally feel confronted with in the Internet era information overload.

The post factual reality

But at the same time, Trump is also the most unscrupulous attempt to turn this postmodern state of power to his own advantage. Bridle uses the term gray zone to describe the post factual reality between truth and fake news, which Trump manfully maneuvers, describing it as "the most contemporary form of warfare." Trump seems to have understood, if nothing else, that the most effective warfare often takes place under the threshold of armed conflict, and thrives best behind a "cloud of misinformation and deception." To that extent, Trump is post-political auto playstrategy fully compatible with the cultural logic of automation: In such optics, Peppa Pig meets Islamic State on a three-year-old iPad may not be the worst image of the Trump era and of a new Dark Age.

Dominique Routhier
Dominique Routhier
Routhier is a regular critic of Ny Tid.

You may also like