Big data and the dictatorship of memory

brain neurons connections

He spends already 84 years. The decrepit old man, frightened by the vertigo of space, has locked himself in a closet in the hope of adjusting the world within reach. The conclusion of his madness has come at last. Death, with whom he has dialogued so much throughout his life, has reached him mounted on the horse of Alzheimer’s. Terrified, unable to recognize himself in the touch of his disheveled hair, an unexpected flash hits his brain. He echoes in his head a phrase dispatched by a familiar voice, but now alien, his: “Life is only possible if there is oblivion”, and oblivion, little by little, has stayed with his life.

Emile Cioran  died more than twenty-five years ago. From a young age he claimed the importance of mental breaks as a way of relieving the burden of conscience. He, blamed for his insomnia and obsessions, merged into one with the darkest pessimism that lit up from his memory-sick womb. As if he had been the object of a voluntary hypermnesia  (syndrome that makes him remember everything), Cioran suffered the torture of constant clairvoyance, hence he was a defender of the opposite, of the importance of emptiness and the gaseous sleep of thought. What would the Romanian have thought of Big Data and electronic memory. His skepticism would have had no limits regarding the tons of information they currently plan, from server to server and without rest, oblivious to mortality.

Big Data, for analogical spirits, corresponds to the data accumulation process that has reached such dimensions that only supercomputers are capable of processing them. Analyst Doug Laney  defined it under the three V’s: Volume, Velocity and Variety. Basically, the three concepts that multiplied obscenely in terms of data at the turn of the millennium. In such a way that if before the technology was able to show off a memory equal to the human, the Big Data Zas! he hits a right hook and leaves the mind of Homo Sapiens sucking canvas. As much as our neurons seem more ambitious when they take care of processing and saving the data on their own, unlike computers that divide their processing and storage units, machines have the ability to manage infinite amounts of information and have it available on demand. As if it were the bookshelf of someone with OCD. Everything well ordered and, above all, with the potential of permanence.

Human memory is far from that shelf. It is subjective, not operational . It is based on the alteration, the instability, the adrenaline and, above all, the constant inaccessibility to the content.

How curious then that it is established that technological terminals have memory, using the same terminology as for humans. Human memory is far from that shelf. It is subjective, not operational . It is based on the alteration, the instability, the adrenaline and, above all, the constant inaccessibility to the content. The machine instead, wrapping that shelf, has no memory, it has calculation. The essence of him clings to a non-narrative processor, descriptive and executory in nature, like an alienated soldier sticking his bayonet into the enemy’s jowls incapable of anything other than “doing what he must do.” Meanwhile, human memory is rooted in creativity. She sustains her orgasm in the arousal of his desire, and not in the quickest and most efficient satisfaction of him. The human processors, as soon as they stick a bayonet in your eye, as soon as they plant a flower on the tip of it.

The Big Data, worth the redundancy, corresponds to the data, not to the fact. Observing the fact, living it humanly, is a temporary, ephemeral, erotic sensation, which is built as it progresses and is left to die to be compulsively reborn. Data, on the other hand, aims to predict the future, and dismembers the human, putting an end to “not knowing”, forgetting, without which  freedom is just a fast food chain with a varied but immutable menu.

In Nothing is opposed to the night , Delphine de Vigan  says that “fasting is a powerful and cheap drug.” Forgetting, understood as a fast from memories, is also a malnutrition that anesthetizes anguish . She dispatches, like no other mental fact, nightmares and invites you to embrace the hammer of opportunity like a loving lightning bolt, and not fearful. Why, being this way, are societies advancing more and more, and faster, towards a mathematized administration of the world in which electronic memory prevails over brain memory? In Europe we are already close to 50% of our digitized GDP, a figure accelerated in six years with the past confinements, and that in Spain is adulterated with 91.8% of the population that frequently uses the internet (INE).

Both one fact and the other demonstrate the magnitude of the use of this opulent memory of information where nothing fades. Despite this, the dialogue with our memories should be holed , cracked like a skull, and the pain shrouded in an inaccessible crack on the sides of the mind. Who if not, in their right mind, throws themselves into smilingly recalling the parades of knives that danced in his life? Who wants their errors to never expire and be available to anyone?

Qual é o papel do Big Data na Indústria 4.0?

The journalist Marta Garú, in charge of the Courts section of the Heraldo de Aragón, has faced this question on more than one occasion. «Many convicts have written to me asking that the information about their trial and conviction be deleted from the network. Unfortunately, the articles having been published years ago, that information is widely disseminated and completely out of my control. Of course, they have already served their sentences, and can even request the cancellation of their criminal records, but they cannot escape the information that remains of them on the internet.». We return to Cioran since “life is only possible if there is forgetfulness”, it is a most accurate phrase in these cases. And let’s not forget that, without the intervention of the highest and most privileged rooms, in a universe as atomized and uncontrollable as the digital one, data is eternal. Here we mention the damned, but registering the stumble of any individual can sign an eternal fall. 

“Dataism,” which Noah Harari  defines in his Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow  as a surrogate religion that “reveres neither gods nor man: but data,” is quietly creeping in the direction of conquering the hearts of the great minds. This being the case, Homo Sapiens is condemned to fall short, to the slipstream, being unable to do more than submit to the great god Datus , eternal and, above all, inhuman. Well , Datus  does not suffer, nor does he feel, nor interprets, he only and exclusively transmits, like a great inseminating tool, embarrassing everyone who reveres him . And with each insemination, he grows and becomes stronger, more infinite and far from oblivion.

Jean-François Lyotard, already at the end of the seventies, had been warning of the dangers of that postmodernity that smelled like a sick anorexia of humanism. He warned, not a little critically, about the revelation of a purely scientific vision that would subject the citizen to the dictatorship of technique and power. A strategy where emptiness is synonymous with weakness and that, whoops, materializes more forcefully every day.

Let us bear in mind, however, that without forgetting things become transparent. “Not-things”, as Byung-Chul Han would say . Immovable, time-impervious objects lack age and deny the right to death of memories. Thus, they bloodily combat the ignorance that, as Aristotle said, is necessary for knowledge . Unfortunately for the god Datus , what cannot be forgotten does not seduce us because we give it the status of eternity, and eternity, being so certain, is superficial to the senses. Even a toast.

It could be said that we have been deceived all our lives… vampires, from Nosferatu to Twilight, do not feed on the throbbing jugulars of others to survive… no! they do it to cheer themselves up because, conscious as they are of their non-degradable plastic and rubber cells, they need something to remind them of movement, the warmth of mortality; the hypothesis of not being eternal.

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