Hello there, welcome to my obsession.
I hope you enjoy the ride and have some laughs in between tears.
In our chaotic unregulated technological era holding an uncertain future, i cannot stop myself thinking about this movie as a pretty clever prophetic object. I cannot stop myself from hoping some John Connor incarnation will rise and lead the resistance against the creepy societal project that awaits us.
Let’s just forget about what they’ve done with the « Whateverology », we all know how the Hollywood industry can pervert good ideas and turn them into tasteless, unwatchable, shitty slot machines…
A movie about Technology, Hacking and the rise of A.I.
Miles Bennett Dyson is a workaholic, hardcore nerd (“Bits Happens”■), so passionate and dedicated to his task that he neglects his family. Being this cliché of a successful Silicon Valley dude, he just has to strongly believe that his research is going to change the world for the better, even when he anxiously looks at the severed arm of the first T-800 in his lab… Not such a big deal after all…
We are surrounded by proto-Cyberdine/Skynet companies. Google© seems to be the best challenger. After all, they own Boston Dynamics© but there are so many others that it is hard to tell for sure. What is certain is that each of them hires many « Miles Bennett Dysons », they’re a little army of believers, thinking that Tech is the answer to every problem, from Climate Change (sic) to Unemployment (welcome to the Gig Economy*¹) and even to Death.The trans-humanist movement gathers the worst in that “1% White Male” way of envisioning the future. Their future : a future where all technology is dedicated to them, a future where they don’t die.
It is by the way pretty ironic that the character of Miles Bennett Dyson is a black guy when we learn that actual A.I.s. Are racist entities filled with shitty biases because of the homogeneity of Silicon Valley Workers*²… Maybe it’s some kind of avant-garde clin d’œil ?
This cliché character is however quite endearing compared to what we are now faced with : the rise of random opportunists who just want to get rich in a blink of an eye by selling their “revolutionary startup” to a Big Tech company, no matter what the impact on privacy or society can be.
The word Ethics has definitely been “terminated”.
Bearing that in mind we can now focus on the purpose of the Skynet A.I. The movie shows us that its first behavior -right after reaching singularity*³– is clearly survival, triggering a nuclear war to avoid being unplugged… Fair enough.
One can speculate about how this newly self-aware A.I. used its well-deserved free time to learn more and develop some kind of philosophy. We have at least a small clue on its opinion about humans in the words of the T-800 “It is in your nature to destroy yourselves”. However we know nothing about its potential authentic aspiration, apart from killing whatever radioactive humans are left, building massive quantities of T-800 and other, more advanced, models to crush the vulnerable resistance, and eventually move on to time travel. What could be the point ? Burning the planet to the ground and have robot orgies?
As outlined above, the way « techs » feed and train A.I.s makes them in our own image. That is to say, stupid short-termists ultra-capitalists creatures…Yup, maybe a 24/7 T-800 factory, working until the last gram of resource is a reasonable scenario.
Considering our present world, the early 90’s don’t feel particularly “technological”. Ghetto blasters and audio tapes were then the perfect rebel apparat, computers were still tools used by serious professionals or by nerds and videogame consoles were awesome 16-bit machines (I mean wow). But as shown in the picture, Arcade Game Centers were definitely important places for “kids”, where they were able to play on quiet powerful hardware, allowing them to explore new possibilities, to see the future of graphics and to imagine its implementation into everyday life.
Just before that, we can see John Connor hacking an ATM with a modified credit card plugged into a small proto-laptop. This is the only occurence of “John Connor as a Hacker” in the sequel, which is quite hard to understand. Hunted for most of his life and having to feel like a target in a world becoming more and more technological every day, John Connor would probably have become some sort of anti-big tech & pro-open source whistleblower and/or hacktivist, not a hobo, wouldn’t he have?
Last but not least, in the alternate ending (the real ending before producers realized it would “terminate” the legacy and prevent them from making crap movies) we can see Sarah Connor in 2037 doing some vlogging with her “smartphone”…No shit.
A movie about Parenting.
From a carefree young adult to a badass fearless warrior, Sarah Connor is obviously a key character.
Knowing her child will eventually become the borderline-messianic leader of the resistance, she can also be viewed as a Virgin Mary figure. Let’s face it, she gets pregnant from a guy who does not necessarily exist*⁴ . Guess who the Holy Synthetic Spirit is ? #lolz.
Impersonating the tough single mother who does not trust men, she is a statement in the 90’s mutating society, where the increasing number of divorces caused many single mothers cases and urged to reconsider the place of men in that equation.
Sarah Connor blames herself for the (unsubstantiated*⁵) lack of a paternal figure during John’s growth, perfect example of which is the sequences where she watches John interacting with the T-800 in the desert.
How do you raise a child when you know that the future is going to be bad and he/she will have to be a “Warrior?”
Sarah Connor keeps it simple and raises John as a fucking hardcore survivalist, finding ways to teach him firearms handling, mechanics, code and hacking etc…
In a way, this echoes of the situation we’re presently living. On the one hand we get to directly experience the first consequences of what is now called the Anthropocene and on the other hand we see the establishment of dystopian t̶o̶t̶a̶l̶i̶t̶a̶r̶i̶a̶n̶ democratic states using tech to monitor and control populations.
Procreating and raising children in a world threatened by such an unstable future would be a tough decision to make for pragmatic people with that knowledge.
The future is by definition an uncertain thing, humans surely have always told themselves at all ages that they were living « une époque formidable » (latin formidabilis•). Nowadays, Humanity knows that its impact on its small planet has reached a point of no return, climate disorder is a very real contemporary phenomenon. A very real, very diverse and very scary issue as it is an all connected phenomenon, an ouroboros. Human emissions are making the climate warmer and ruining it, making poles and the permafrost melt even faster. In turn, this releases huge quantities of various gases, which causes massive heatwaves, megafires, hurricanes, floods, etc. This then has an impact on nature and agriculture, while insects, birds and mammals extinction also affect it.
We are very aware that this will eventually trigger riots, migrations and wars for basic vital ressources (like water or food) and of course wars for strategic ressources (oil, lithium, uranium) will occur, to maintain our usual living standards*⁶…(can you picture a world without the internet?). How disturbing is it to find out that we have known all of this since the 1970’s and that “The Limits to Growth”*⁷ report, has prophesized with an incredible accuracy how and when the capitalist economic system will lead us towards a massive crash? The “Business as usual” scenario has won and is obviously, 40 years later, still the way impotent puppet leaders have decided to rule the world for their oligarchs puppet masters, despite all the alarms, despite Greta fucking Thunberg.
Greta Thunberg, what a character. She is somehow the John Connor for ecology. In any case she is a symbol of a whole generation confronting an anxiety inducing future. However, the way she is depicted in so many press releases (and especially her tribune at every UN summits or COPs in front of “world leaders”) makes us wonder about how much she’s been used as a tool to ready the occident for collapse and seriousness in the name of Earth future, Nature and Children.
Unfortunately, there is still no sign of a Greta-like John Connor. Despite the impact of smartphones, apps and social medias on our behavior, the data leaks scandals, the A.I.-assisted mass surveillance and the use of neuropsychology. Despite our reaction to Aaron Swartz, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and whistleblowers. Despite the Big Tech dictating their vision of the future, the amazon slaver warehouses, the ever-expanding Gig Economy and the Uberization of every task of our life. Despite the rise of national social credit systems based on the everything rating/quisling nightmare, despite all of this and the rest, still nothing. There still is no powerful international voice on the media or at the UN for the conservation of our privacy, for the protection of our freedom, for the defense of ethics.
It is sad to see that no country wants to deal with Edward Snowden.
It is sad to see that most people (and especially the young) don’t know him nor Aaron Swartz*⁸, nor what they have accomplished. Modern martyrs for all concerned.
As you may have noticed, d̶e̶m̶o̶c̶r̶a̶c̶i̶e̶s̶ representative republics and other kind of “funny regimes” have major interests in deploying all sorts of surveillance tools. Working hand-in-hand with major Tech Companies, terrorism became the perfect compelling reason to extend authorizations and remove legal obstacles (What could go wrong during a pandemic episode…). Whether it was the Patriot Act or the State of Emergency situations, we have seen these measures used to control whistleblowers, political dissidents, activists, journalists or even just protesters (Coucou le France, Gilets Jaunes, Les droits de l’homme, Ooh-la-la)*⁹
In a world where democratic crisis piles on top of the perspective of a financial and ecological collapse, monitoring, surveillance and control tools*¹⁰ are strategic to maintaining or enforcing the Law / Order the way some few people wants it.
Greta is far less troublesome than John.
Anyway, in most countries having children is now definitely a choice (let’s just not ask the question “Why the hell do we smart apes have children?” and just pick the “For love, of course” answer). That choice is now essentially linked to the way we are going to raise these kids in these strange times. One can of course have faith in the future, in fact most people don’t really care about the future and raise their child without any kind of consciousness regarding the planet or technological spin-offs. Maybe one day they will even blame us for our ingenuous passive behavior, for our lies and irresponsible inaction. Maybe they won’t.
But the “OK BOOMER” phenomenon is quite an interesting prism through which the new generation considers transgenerational duty.
We can be a sort of neo-Sarah Connor, trying to prepare her/him for the unknown, with martial arts and self-defense trainings, Bears Grylls summer camp, subscriptions to MacGyver magazine, hacking and coding night classes. We can raise awareness on plant-based alimentation for environmental and ethical reasons, learn to decipher marketing strategies, to disregard the meaningless rhythm of Fast Fashion and planned obsolescence goods. We can try our best to be uncompromised parents, just hoping we will still have a living child at some point considering all the anxiety this kind of rising can generate and adds up to the nihilists “what’s the point?” episode teenagers use to pass through.
Whatever our choices are, we must remember a simple, universal law : no matter how hard we try to shape a child this way or that, they may not necessarily turn into the adult version we had in mind. Take a second and just think about your parents… Errr…
So what’s my point? I don’t know. If you’ve been patient enough to read my ramblings up to this point, you may feel concerned by these aspects of our time and you may already be trying to live a decent life in this absurd washing machine, standing up, spreading ethics around you.
Do we have to become activists? I deeply think so.
Let’s go back to the Hollywood industry and question this ever-increasing need for heroes and anti-heroes. This antique recipe is obviously a way to counterbalance the everyday injustices, bringing to light the efforts average people make in raising awareness and fighting abuses with a certain form of radical dedication. Why don’t we play that game a little longer and chase the utopia?
We can all agree to the fact that the best education we can provide is the proof by example. So let’s just be role models, the best we can be, and let us not be afraid to fast forward to the end of that era to begin a new one. A different era, undoubtedly involving its part of increasing geopolitical tensions or natural disasters, which is why I hope common people will now fight to be politically in charge.
The future is still unclear, full of surprises*¹¹, and creative destruction the key of the living.
After all we are just “atoms renters”, as a good friend says « Tout finira bien. ».
With all my biases, fears, hopes and love.
*² : The Great White Robot God – https://medium.com/@davidgolumbia/the-great-white-robot-god-bea8e23943da
*³ : Technological singularity – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity
*⁴ : Predestination paradox – https://terminator.fandom.com/wiki/Predestination_paradox
*⁵ : 90’s white male scenarists…
*⁶ : Is the capitalist way of life not negotiable? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGt4XwBbCvA&feature=youtu.be
*⁷ : The Limits to Growth – https://www.clubofrome.org/report/the-limits-to-growth/
*⁸ : Aaron Swartz – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz
*⁹ : Global democracy in retreat – https://www.eiu.com/n/global-democracy-in-retreat/
*¹⁰ :The Algorithmic Governmentality – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezd24NQoqCw&feature=youtu.be
*¹¹ : Empty Planet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSAgHvETNSg