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Blog Bernard Letendre

Corporate culture

How we lost control of our lives to the machines

The Inventor, in the beginning, devised an apparently benign contraption meant to disseminate information more effectively to specific people within specific facilities. Nobody anticipated what would come next.

The contraption soon started mutating into something remarkably invasive that tugs incessantly at its subjects’ consciousness. Throughout the waking hours, it vies for a subject’s attention, sending nervous stimulation to its brain in the form of visual, tactile or auditory signals. Every time the subject attempts to focus its attention on some task or another, the contraption sends out a new signal that kicks its attention out of focus and takes it further away from accomplishing the important tasks that are so critical to its success and happiness.

When the experiment first got under way, most of the subjects – a control group of sorts – were relegated to small enclosures within designated facilities. Over time, many were left to roam freely: Instructions came from somewhere to remove the invisible restraints that tethered them to the facilities. Blinking into the sunlight, they felt suddenly free from the Servers. Some headed back to their dens, tentatively at first, then with the liberating feeling that they had somehow, implausibly, escaped the constant and relentless over-stimulation of the Inventor’s neural device.

But they had not escaped. First with a buzz, then with a bing, the portable devices that they were made to carry with them as a condition of their freedom started sending insistent reminders on behalf of the Inventor’s contraption. It gradually dawned on the subjects that the neural tethers extended beyond the facilities where they had toiled; even out there amongst the trees and the mountains, as they moved seemingly freely across the world, the subjects kept getting pulled in by the incessant impulses being fed to their brains. The Servers’ reach, they realized, now extended far beyond the facilities. And They never required any rest.

The various devices through which the Servers communicate demand constant attention. Subjects are expected to provide more and more instantaneous responses to the demands that keep coming through, ever expanding. Chemical rewards are triggered in the subjects’ brains for complying with the demands and it was discovered – too late unfortunately – that subjects soon lose the ability to function without those rewards. Subjects are now routinely disrupted when attempting to engage in biologically important functions such as eating, sleeping, grooming and many others.

From time to time, the system stops sending out the impulses for a few minutes. Subjects’ attention filters quickly pick up on the change. They feel, on some visceral level, that something must be wrong. They start getting nervous, anxious even. They become desperate for the familiar impulses to resume. But they know that the incessant stimulation has made them slaves to the experiment and they wish on some level that they could recapture the ancestral freedom to just learn, think, work. To just be.

Since the experiment first started, the Servers have multiplied. They have names now, which reflect the unique ways in which they torment the subjects. The First Server, which relentlessly pushes out long, painful written messages, rules to this day as the most important source of angst for incalculable numbers of subjects but he may soon be supplanted.

Some of us who were born before the beginning of the experiment can remember how it used to be before It started growing, spreading and invading every aspect of our lives. There is no longer any escape from the Servers whose reach now spans the entire world. But I have not given up and, above all with regards to email, continue to this day to fight a valiant rearguard action for control of my life.