Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

I hear the word “Progress” used so often these days in the morning internet news that I thought I might offer equal time to a word we seldom hear, but a word that could well be substituted for the word progress in at least every second article. And that word is “retrogress” and here are some of the reasons I feel this way.)

“Progress” is usually employed in a sort of judgmental way by the “news” in this sort of context. “It’s obvious we can’t stand in the way of tech progress, the fact that scientists will soon be “downloading our consciousness into machines is as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning…” “Whatever we may think this progress must go on. Science assures us of this.”

Modern “news” is so helpful in comparison to the news of a few years back in that we are saved the effort of thinking at all. The new news not only tells us what to think but assures us we have no choices at all beyond that! Relaxing isn’t it? We could just snooze away and those folks could employ “sleep teaching” on us.

Well in case you have some life left in you, and I suspect many of us do, we might consider this…. The dreamers who were the forerunners of the “tech age” back in the 1800s would not only roll over but outright flip in their graves if they could see where their concepts have gone.
Charles Babbage and Ada Byron (the poet Byron’s daughter) would be horrified at the base and totalitarian ways the computers are being used to brain wash us and to spy on our personal lives. The flimsy structure of modern computers to keep “planned obsolescence” going would also puzzle them. (Babbage’s first example was built of the strongest materials possible.)
Ada Byron wrote, at that time, of the dangers of the Anylitical engines (computers) “being unable to differentiate about user entered “untrue information.” She was certainly far seeing in this. Her final word on the subject was “The analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to [do]. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any … truths. Its province is to assist us in making available what we’re already acquainted with.” (The reason she felt this way was because she lived in an age in which faith in a larger spiritual picture still emanated from our individual souls and conscience, and the flip of the dice approach to technology had not even been dreamed of.
Faith Ethics and human self respect still reigned supreme. Ray Bradbury stated the same concept in modern times when in his “Machines Beyond Shylock” poem he said “Stuff right get right, Stuff rot, get rot, For no more power lies here, than man himself has got….”When Byron, Shelley, Mary Shelley and a couple others did a think tank at Byron’s Palazzo in 1816, and Mary came up with “Frankenstein” as the story of a scientist who develops an early form of “Artificial Intelligence” in the form of a creature built patchwork quilt style out of body pieces and electrical charges, the message was quite obviously spelled out in the ending in which the abomination is floated away on an iceberg. (No message there about how we must, because of scientific progress, accept such things as our future blessing).

Which thought returns me to the opening of my article. Retrogress, is a word which means (and I take some of its specific meanings here to clarify “To move backward into an inferior state or degenerate.”

I suspect loaded deck internet flunkies wouldn’t enjoy this word being substituted for their favorite “progress” the stories might sound more like “Modern tech science continues to retrogress and degenerate, apace.”
Wow, they wouldn’t like that at all! Would they? …… I’m glad.
 Appreciate your comments .