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Commentary: Men should tread carefully in high-tech future

Recently I was scrolling through movie previews and an advertisement popped up about a movie called “Ex Machina” featuring Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander. At first I thought, “Oh, that’s cool” and kept scrolling ... then I remembered that I hadn’t started working on my English journal and might as well include my insights as to what this movie could be saying.

It wasn’t the advertisement that caught my eye. It was the quote that sat along the top of the picture. It read, “To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line between men and gods.”

I sat and thought about it for a good 30 minutes before I started typing.

I think that the quote is saying a few things. The first is that men on Earth are gods. This can be seen different ways. Primarily because the power that we all possess makes us seem godlike. But time and time again humans forget that they are flawed. Gods, in every aspect, are perfect. They have no flaws and they make no mistakes. They can create perfectly.

Humans hold the ability to construct things from the resources that surround them no matter the scale. From a slingshot to an automobile, even skyscrapers and bridges. But you can’t forget about the weapons of mass destruction. Just as people hold the ability to create, we also hold the ability to take away. I think that we take away more than we give.

If we had perfect judgment and the ability to block out personal beliefs and emotions when making decisions then we wouldn’t have things like missiles that can annihilate an entire city in a matter of seconds. Therein lies the flaw: In order to create perfectly, that which was created must be used for a purpose that is just.

My point is that there is a line between being a god and being a conduit for destruction. Humans are masters of the latter. But honestly what will we say to our children when all that remains from our mistakes and stupidity is a giant pile of rubble. We’ll say, “This is where the giant skyscrapers used to stand. This is where the mere men of the world rose above their brothers and sisters and claimed to be gods. Heaven sent to rule us. But truly that was their downfall.”

Our downfall will be a result of our greed and impertinence toward the laws of something as simple as common sense. In the words of Michael Crichton, “They didn’t understand what they were doing. I’m afraid that will be on the tombstone of the human race.”

We fail to realize that our rise to power is only a result of the suffering and victimization of those who stood before us when they “got in the way.” How can you justify taking the land of people who cultivated it and prepared it for their use, then colonizing that land and not letting others enter because they are immigrants when we ourselves were the first immigrants? But that’s merely one example of something that our descendants will speak of generations from now.

From this point on there is no precedent. There isn’t an example or a blueprint for those who will succeed us. Because if we hand them the schematics to how we got here, they’ll bury themselves farther than we did. All that will remain will be the ashes of fallen wonders of the world, torn pages of books that were once pouring with knowledge, and air that begs to reach the lungs of those who once had dreams for the future. Dreams that could have saved us. Dreams of making a paradise for those that will walk this Earth generations after us.

In a naive effort to keep those dreams out of the hands of the wicked, we realized that we are the wicked. But by then it would be too late. Instead of trying to live as gods among men, we should all realize that we are men among men. People that will mess up a lot. Let’s focus on staying within our ability.

Because you’re more likely to fail when you attempt something beyond your capacity. In that case, we’re treading on thin ice.

Josh Thermidor is a sophomore at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.