I found the most interesting aspect of the Murphie reading to be Virilio’s notions on the technologies of speed; that as a society our insatiable need to increase the speed of all aspects of our life is greatly affecting our sense of space. Virilio, in a way, is trying to warn us about the continual creation of more and more complex technologies, because as technology becomes more advanced our chances of losing control of it begin to increase. He states that “we have invented machines whose systems are so fast and so complex that they operate beyond human capacity. We program our own disappearance” (Murphie & Potts 2002, p. 37).
In the 21st century speed is everything. Every year Apple updates their roster of products touting FASTER, THINNER and LIGHTER designs. Always faster. Always thinner. Always more powerful. Because I don’t have the time to wait 20 seconds for my laptop to boot up. It needs to start RIGHT NOW.
Google Search now brings up webpages with each subsequent word you add to the search bar, so you can find what you’re looking for before you even know what it is that you want.
Virilio’s (admittedly dark) take on technology reminds me a lot of chaos theory, a school of thought in the world of mathematics which tries to understand changes and variables in complex systems. Take, for instance, the story of Jurassic Park. The scientists thought they had their creation under control, but as Dr. Ian Malcolm so elegantly puts it: “Life, uh, finds a way.”
And with supercomputers like IBM’s Jeopardy-beast ‘Watson’ putting the intellect of some of the world’s smartest people to shame, it becomes easier to understand why academics such as Virilio are apprehensive about modern society’s obsession with speed. We seem to be getting closer and closer to the inevitable robot apocalypse.
Murphie, A and Potts, J (2002), ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology, London: Palgrave: 37-38