Saturday, April 14, 2012

Have the machines achieved sentience already?

Watching the current situation in politics in the post-Citizen's United world, it seems indeed like the machines have taken over. The question seems to be, "when did it happen?"

In the movie Terminator 2, we see that the machines became 'self-aware' (sentient) at a certain point, and then proceeded to attack humans.  In the past (our present day) the presence of a remnant of a future robot is linked to the problem, and the focus is on eliminating it to save the future.  Even though I'm a big Star Trek fan, I'm not going to discuss time travel plot lines and weaknesses. It just makes me wonder where the tipping point was, and whether or not it's already too late to tip it back.

It's not easy to point to one specific action that led to our current state.  I'm just going to ask a few questions, and hope you'll join the conversation.  Where do you agree?  What do you think we can do about it?  Is it too late?

Citizen's United Case
Argued March 24, 2009; Reargued September 9, 2009; Decided January 21, 2010
This is a good place to start.  This is the decision that gave corporations (the machines) the same free speech rights as people.  Money is considered a form of speech, and for some reason, corporations are now allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, and they don't even have to disclose who's supplying the money!
Bush v. Gore (2000)
Even though Al Gore won the election, the Supreme Court stopped the vote count in Florida, thereby selecting Bush as the president.  During the reign of George II, he was able to appoint Justices Roberts and Alito, two extremists, which kept the balance of the court tilted to the right.
The Nomination of Clarence Thomas (1991)
George H. W. Bush was disappointed in his nomination of David Souter, who did not turn out to be as conservative as hoped.  For Bush's 2nd appointment, he hit a conservative home run with Thomas.  Thomas has been an embarrassment as a justice, never recusing himself for many conflicts of interest.
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886)
Bancroft Davis
This is perhaps the seed of the whole 'corporate personhood' problem.  The idea that corporations were persons, and entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment was actually written by the court reporter, former president of the Newburgh and New York Railway Company, J.C. Bancroft Davis, in what is called a 'headnote' to the decision. Even though the justices in the decision didn't write this, it has stood as a settled concept, and is the direct forefather of Citizens United.  I had heard about this decision from Thom Hartmann, who I believe is an incredible resource of facts and history, and I wish I could hear him more often on the radio.

How this works
So, the machines to me are these Super PACs, who spend unlimited amounts of money to brainwash the populace into accepting the rule of the machines.  We see the Tea Party already, doing the machine's bidding, even though most of the people who see themselves as Tea Party members are doing so against their own self-interest.  The Super PACs have no compunction about truth, they exist to carpet bomb the electorate with disinformation.  It is a self-perpetuating system.

Is it too late?
Will it simply run its course, only to be ignored?
If so, will that happen in time?

Please, let me know what you think about this.