Friday, April 07, 2017

Atom’s Journal: The Day After Tomorrow

Episode Nine

Met this bloke today; tinkering away in his open garage, haloed by cycle wheels and the lingering scent of a recently-smoked joint.
We got talking about bikes. We agreed that those gazelles in fluorescent skin-suits are not really cycle enthusiast but rather adrenaline junkies and speed freaks whose sole purpose is to get there before the next bloke – capitalists indeed.
His name was Norm and he had no need for people like me. But this did not mean that we did not connect on a level of sincere respect for one another’s opinions. He said we need to teach our children practical skills; I said I had no idea about kids, that I did not believe we should be bringing children into a world this fucked up.
He conceded a point well made, then put forward the belief that we are going to fall foul of our dependence on digital technology, on life support systems that cannot be repaired other than by replacing their essential parts (chips; hard drives; programmable logic controllers), or worse still equipment built to such a low standard that they are generally irreparable and require replacing in their entirety.
Call me a luddite or a stupid old man if you like, he said, but we need to relearn or teach ourselves the skills necessary to survive the bad hand that we will be dealt when we lose this fragile digital reality that relies on those thousands of satellites controlled by automated production centres that rely on the input from other automated systems to produce those replacements, when the repairers no longer remember how to reprogram them because they can’t remember the password that gives them access to the machine code.
We need skills he said before appearing to nod off, grey-bearded chin on chest, bicycle cassette dismantled on the floor near his grease-grit blackened fingers.
When I conveyed my conversation with Norm to Phoebe later, she looked up from her screen tapping fingers, paused for a second before continuing their tapping tasks for some long minutes while I presumed we were still having a conversation.
Finally, just as I was about to leave the room in search of sustenance, she looked up: we need to an army of people who have practical skills, she said, an anarchist army.

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