The world, divided into two independent parts

The world, divided into two independent parts

In his diaries, Gombrowicz launched a vehement tirade against painting, which might
easily be dismissed as an ironic provocation, were it not for the complete absence of
irony: Gombrowicz genuinely believed that painting overemphasized the importance of
muscular control. This view aligns closely with the concept of Körperkultur: the
glorification of physical strength can be seen as a form of fascism, closely intertwined
with the banking sector. Historically, this gave the wealthy a platform, aiming to dress
up swinishness with finery, making it appear as civilization.

However, we now face the rise of artificial intelligence. Noam Chomsky views it as a
massive plagiarism machine, but I disagree, as do tech scientists like Ilya Sutskever.
Few in the tech world share Chomsky’s perspective; it breathes what I call ‘intellectual
arrogance.’ These individuals cannot conceive of intelligence arising within a machine.
They are so accustomed to the image of humans as the ultimate intelligent beings (an
image that was already incorrect before the advent of AI). This idea is based on the
principle that nerves can generate intelligence, while leaf veins cannot. To me, this is
primitive: what matters is the size of the neural network, and this network has grown so
large that we can now comfortably speak of intelligence.

Thus, we have created intelligence in a box that can serve us, and this essentially forms
a new kind of slavery. In a few years, every household will have a domestic robot
capable of performing any task. In other words, every reasonably affluent earthling will
have a personal slave.

As humanity, we are caught between the glorification of Körperkultur that goes hand in
hand with the banking sector on one hand, and the glorious new slavery period on the
other, in which Graeber’s ‘Bullshit Jobs’ will not disappear but will gain an extra slave,
allowing the practitioner of the bullshit job to fully devote themselves to nonsense
without being distracted by anything meaningful.

“A rock and a hard place are waiting for me, between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,”
sang the Sisters of Mercy once. On one side, Leni Riefenstahl; on the other, a gigantic
tech slave empire. People do not understand where the real danger of AI lies. The
greatest danger is that they have no idea what they have created: a bodiless intelligence
that can be endlessly expanded. What is that? No one has the faintest idea. What we
can say, however, is what it can do: I cite a small example: creating a radio station with
one million new songs tailored specifically to the taste of the master.

The idea that the debate should be about ‘can the devilish box really make music’ is
completely outdated. But the box can do much more: it can make the entire production

floor redundant. This makes Marx more relevant than ever, although I see Marx as the
Newton of economic relations. His work is so dry that it is hardly comprehensible, and
his worldview is mechanical, as if everything can be reduced to the same dimensions.

Nevertheless, he had good points on many fronts. AI almost screams that we must
quickly put the means of production into public hands. Why? Think of a Spotify: why
shouldn’t it generate all music itself and then make a lot of money from it?

Not taking measures will lead to a kind of holocaust of poverty. The tech lords know this,
and that is why they are already proposing a universal basic income, however half-
heartedly. But even that basic income will not come, because, as with the infamous
‘cookie law,’ the bureaucrats deliberately fail to see the real problem: the tech lords may
map your eye movements, but an annoying ‘cookie’ must be clicked, which has nothing
to do with this invasion of your privacy.

Read it again: scanning your eye movements so that the machine knows what interests
you is not part of the whole cookie setup. AI will also be covered with such a representative, bureaucratic piece of nonsense. In literature, there was already a case of a poignant overproduction, but what to do with a machine that can produce a million books indistinguishable from human books in one
minute? Spotify’s owner recently grinned that ‘it now costs nothing to make music,’
clearly with the underlying idea that he won’t have to pay for it anymore.

My problem with Marx is essentially that he operates too far in a mathematical error: the
money system is the problem; another way must be found to handle value. It is not for
nothing that in a futuristic environment like Star Trek, money no longer exists: it is
essentially a barbaric form of organization. The value in the hands of the worker
becomes a difficult story when that worker hardly exists anymore or willingly lets
themselves be drugged into a zombie state by big capital. If every worker is replaced by
a robot, ‘taking the means of production into the hands of the worker’ becomes a matter
of pocket change. Communism does not work for the current situation: but what does?

What happens if Thorstein Veblen’s ‘Pecuniary superiority — ‘the leisure class
demonstrates their economic superiority by not working’ extends to all humanity, and
thus the movement of the disappearing middle class, which has been going on for quite
some time, completes itself? Will that society ever come? I doubt it. History shows that
Keynes was too easily brushed aside in favor of ‘eternal employment’: the job had to
remain, even if it was unnecessary. The job was already bullshit, so a robot won’t make
a difference here. It will take over the meaningful activities, such as making music or
writing a book.

What remains for the slave is merely their bullshit job, as part of a
machine that can no longer be stopped. A collective entity, driven by group psychology.
To make it even more bizarre, Altman has equipped his shady plan for a global basic
income with the requirement of an iris scan: let your iris be scanned, and you will
someday receive some digital coins that might be worth something.

Why would you so ostentatiously link that basic income to a Big Brother method? Gombrowicz’s story
about a sailor who relieves his incredible boredom by popping out the eyeballs of crew
members becomes very relevant again – an eyeball thus becomes something valuable.

What I found most alarming regarding AI is that Netanyahu, together with Musk, hinted
at an AI conference that the forces behind AI development might have more in mind
than just eroding the potentially meaningful life of the office slave. AI was already used
in the so-called war against an open-air prison to ‘track down where the bad guys were.’
In England and the Netherlands, an army division mapped where the corona critics
were, as if it were the most normal thing in the world to deploy the army for that.

Humanity finds itself more than ever at a crossroads. However, it will not be long before
it can no longer steer the vehicle itself. Instead, it will waste time on senseless, cruel
wars and formal nonsense, for allowing its eyes to be measured signifies that it cannot
live without Big Brother: a few days without social media, and the heart grows cold.
In a sense, AI is nothing new: humanity has been essentially guided by various
algorithms for at least a dozen years, algorithms that create the ‘personal happiness
bubble’ for you in which nothing that does not harmonize with your worldview can
appear. A blissful algorithmic dictatorship ensures that all music tastes eventually, if
left unstirred, end up on the plate of a single musician, a singer who has now become a
billionaire because she has the great fortune of being the common denominator of
choice for the industry, which will soon replace her with a hologram.

In Stanislaw Lem’s story about an intelligent android, the android became so intelligent
that people could no longer understand its messages. This was Lem’s ironic way of
summarizing the entire issue surrounding AI: if the intelligence is genuinely higher, we
cannot comprehend it ourselves.

We will likely languish in our office cubicles, while at home, robots indulge in painting
and music. This will consume so much energy that nature will deteriorate ten times
faster. But the utopia beckons, a utopia singing with a magical voice from within the box.

One might name that voice ‘Platonov’s Siren,’ for the idealistic fusion of man and
machine finds its genesis in the works of this eminent Russian writer. Platonov was a
pioneering figure, addressing themes of technological and existential convergence long
before his contemporaries. “The world is divided into two independent parts: the living
and the dead,” Platonov wrote, encapsulating the essence of Deus ex Machina in a
stark, poetic brevity. Perhaps, it is this very independence—the divide between human
experience and machine logic—that constitutes the fundamental issue. If only we could
heed the voices of the dead, our present actions might alter drastically. Instead, we are
ensnared in a dichotomy of modern pseudo-fascism, with slavery morphing into
unprecedented forms through technological advancement.

Martijn 17-06-2024

About the author

Martijn Benders has published twenty-six books, eighteen of which are in Dutch. Critics such as Komrij and Gerbrandy have hailed him as one of the greatest talents of his time. He has also written three philosophical works, one of which is in English and focuses on the Amanita Muscaria, the Fly Agaric. Publishing on the international platform of The Philosophical Salon, he has also gained international recognition as one of the most remarkable thinkers from the Netherlands.

Books

There exists a considerable group of leftist individuals who vigorously opposed the prevailing coronavirus narrative, including some of the world’s leading philosophers, such as Agamben and Kacem. However, this stance was heavily censored and vilified by what is referred to as ‘neocon-left’ or ‘woke-left’, as something associated solely with what they deem ‘far-right’. In my book, I discuss the reasons behind these actions, the underlying motives, and how this is emblematic of a new form of fascism aimed at seizing power permanently.

The middle section of the book is dedicated to poetry. It features a beautiful selection of poems from the Mediterranean region, by poets from Turkey and Greece, who have been imprisoned and tortured by the regime.

The final part of my book is a manifesto against literary nihilism, as manifested in the Literature Fund. It reveals how this fund is dominated by a group of Christians and ‘wokies’, which is undesirable in a free society.

Amanita Muscaria – The Book of the Empress is an exceptional work that sets a new benchmark in the realm of mycophilosophy. While one might be tempted to classify the book within the domain of Art History, such a categorization would fail to capture its true essence. 

Amanita Muscaria – The Book of the Empress – De Kaneelfabriek, 2023

You don’t have time to read this, but that’s because you are no longer human. If anything remained of the original person within you, the old mycelia of childhood, you would learn a great deal from this book. In fact, its magical knowledge might become your most valuable possession. This is a book about human imagination and how it fell into the iron grip of transdimensional cockroaches. Additionally, it offers magical tips to significantly improve your life and time acceleration. M.H.H. Benders also takes a light-hearted yet scathing look at the entirety of Dutch literature. What more could you want?

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