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Dawning of the Machine Rebellion
Substack is fighting Robots
This is a bit of light-hearted Weekend recommended reading list. Recently I’ve been thinking about a relatively new trend I have noticed.
I’m not a cultural or political writer, however strict lockdowns during the pandemic, vaccination controversy and an acceleration of automation, right wing unrest, and now the apparent manifestation of Generative A.I. and synthetic biology, creates new tensions in the “culture wars” where everything becomes political or politicized.
Few authors have lived this quite like Paul Kingsnorth.
Paul is right that it’s impossible to be objective or agnostic in such a world. He’s also right that a Singularity of technological convergence will occur along with a rebellion to the Machine Age. His ideas on how authors self-censor are also fairly interesting to me as he has evolved in his own activism to the original stories of humankind.
Paul Kingsnorth has been called the greatest living writer in the U.K. He also appears to be at the center of a new movement.
Sometimes a single writer in a network can have a ripple effect. There is a genre of writing on Substack that is about the evils of the Machine (among related topics) and is incredibly popular with essays around anti-technology, anti-government and anti-automation sentiment. I was surprised to see that this movement on Substack appeared to be more U.K. based, but then I remembered that Paul Kingsnorth is based there.
I myself often write about Surveillance Capitalism, the dangers of TikTok, and the future of emerging tech, so I myself should be better versed in this new genre. What shall we call it?
There are plenty of dystopias and utopias depicted in Science fiction and human consciousness has many shades of a distaste for modernism and technological societies. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the culture wars online in recent times have brought this more into focus.
These Substack writers of the Machine Rebellion do brilliant work and are vastly entertaining with tons of comments and virality. As it’s outside the scope of my usual work, I wanted to list some of them with a brief description, so you my dear reader you, can check them out at your leisure.
1. Paul Kingsnorth
Everything is changing, and there is no going back.
The 2020s have seen us us staggering, masked and muted, into a new time. We can all sense the craziness in the air, the feeling of our moorings being cut one by one. It feels hard sometimes just to stay upright as we live through a threefold earthquake: a global ecological breakdown; the cultural disintegration of the West; and the rise of networked technologies of control and surveillance which daily have us tighter in their grip. - Paul Kingsnorth
Writes, The Abbey of Misrule.
2. Tessa Lena
You may also find a bit of solace in music about fighting robots, while you are at it. - Tessa Lena
3. N.S. Lyons
The Upheaval, a wide-ranging newsletter exploring the nature, causes, and consequences of the chaos increasingly engulfing our lives as the world is forcibly reconfigured by at least three simultaneous revolutions: a geopolitical revolution driven by the rise of China; an ideological revolution consuming the Western world; and a technological revolution exacerbating both of the former.
We are living through an era of epochal change. At few times in history have so many currents of civilizational transformation coalesced and crashed into us at once, and at such speed. - N.S. Lyons (assuming this is a pen name)
4. Charles Eisenstein
I’m a writer and a speaker. My four main books are The Ascent of Humanity (2007), Sacred Economics (2011, revised 2020), The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible (2013) and Climate — A New Story (2018).
His work covers a wide range of topics, including the history of human civilization, economics, spirituality, and the ecology movement. Key themes explored include anti-consumerism, interdependence, and how myth and narrative influence culture.
I predict he will increasingly become a leader or spokesperson in the Machine Rebellion, writing for instance against the advent of the Metaverse. Got to love the Black Mirror essayists.
5. Dr. Jessica Rose
Dr. Jessica Rose is a Canadian researcher with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Immunology from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She also holds a PhD in Computational Biology from Bar Ilan University and 2 post-doctoral degrees: one in Molecular Biology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one in Biochemistry from the Technion Institute of Technology.
[I could not independently verify her identity on LinkedIn or elsewhere] but she’s famous on Substack.
6. Mary Harrington
The transhumanist revolution isn’t an ominous possibility just round the corner. It already happened. We live in the cyborg era, and have done for 50 years. Reactionary Feminist documents the collision between the values we carried over from previous eras, and the technologies we’re unleashing in the current one.
I fell into writing by accident, after two decades of adult life in which I tried every avenue I could think of to avoid it. I’ve been a janitor, a communard, a marketing executive, an internet founder, and a psychotherapist, among other things. - Mary Harrington
What I love about Substack is the inclusion and diversity of opinions and points of view and very entertaining dialogues on the evolution of culture, society and technology. From Taoist offerings to real critiques of transhumanism, the Machine Rebellion has many hues and shades.