Friday, May 27, 2016

Man vs. Machine

“Citizens of Tomorrow” played by Tokyo Police Club describes a time when robots are the rulers and made humans their subordinate. The robot masters say they are making a “better world for man and machine alike” but it is a dystopia for humans because they are slaves to computers building spaceships. The song came out in 2006 but labels the time period it describes as 2009. The humans are aware of their situation because they can see what is left from the old world but it gets “taken care of” by their robot masters. The robots “take care” of human memory by forcing them to take drugs that would put them in a lucid state.
The music video is more telling than the lyrics of this dystopian narrative. The humans are all wearing the same white jumpsuit and live in the dark spaceship. There is a woman who is handled by two robots who force her away from contact with another human and drug her. The man who saw this happen plans an escape but he knows there is none because there is a microchip in him that will blow him up as soon as he is out of the spaceship. “Citizens of tomorrow be forewarned” are the last words of the song which presents the whole purpose of this song-to warn us from letting computers take control.
Computers and machines have become an essential part of our life to the point, we cannot escape its need. Almost everything in life has become easier because of computers which is great except when you think of a song like “Citizens of Tomorrow”. While programming a refrigerator seems harmless, we are one step less in control. The songwriters wrote this song ten years ago and probably could not even fathom the kind of technology we have today. Yet, they understood the dangerous path we are traveling down. The chorus “No we can't, no we won't” is what we tell ourselves.We say would not let computers take over our life but the scary thing is that it is become more and more of a reality.
One example of machines overpowering humans is when machines replace humans. This scenario is described in an article in the New York Times, “The Machines Are Taking Over”. The author, Annie Murphy Paul, describes how a teacher, Watson, programmed a computer to teach a class. It describes how it can be interactive and responsive to the student. While the overall tone is a pride in such success, there is a fear none can escape; How far can machines go? The author does note that one aspect the machine lacked is compassion but I do not think it is impossible in our future.
       The ending of the song, most visible in the music video, is even scarier because despite the character’s successful escape, he could not go anywhere. This symbolizes that there is no escape from machines. Therefore, while we physically hear the warning the song gives, we do not internalize it to the fullest extent.

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