I, Robot is the sort of movie you watch once in the cinemas and then mostly forget about. I cannot remember too much about it except it had Will Smith in it and that actress who was one of the barmaids in Coyote Ugly (yes, I have high brow taste in film).
With the restrictions that have been imposed on Victorians by Disaster Dan, and which continue to be imposed on us for the next few months, I cannot help but harken back to when I saw I, Robot so many years ago.
From memory, I believe the sinister agenda of the Artificial Intelligence controlling all the robots was to ensure that no harm came to any human – resulting, in this case, in Asimov’s Laws of Robotics taken to a logical extreme (suffice to say that my working knowledge of science fiction writing is at nerd level). So, at a pre-determined moment, all the robots trigger their secret agenda and place all humans individually under some sort of house arrest.
After all, if you keep people confined to their houses, they can’t go out and get into traffic accidents or murdered by street thugs, or any of the other things which create greater risk than staying home.
These atypically non-killer robots do not appreciate that in keeping people safe in that way, they are depriving their wards of any joy that they may have in their lives – such as the ability to lead a life. No frolicking in the park, or eating high cholesterol food in steak restaurants, or drinking fine wine in a bar, or going on a date to the movies, or the simple meaningfulness that comes from having a job.
And I wonder about how long, without being able to go to the supermarket or engage in any economic activity outside the home, before all of the humanity guarded by those robots would starve to death. The freedom granted by the robot-protectors is only Hobbesian in its nature – the absence of actual physical restraints (and that itself is arguable).
The premier of Victoria, with the unprecedented technocratic emergency powers which he is now exercising through his minions, seems to share the same agenda as the robots in I, Robot.
And the same amount of empathy as those robots.
Essentially he wants to protect people from themselves and from living their lives. Freedom of movement, of religion, to earn a living through normal economic activities, and now even of speech have been suppressed to a very large degree.
The only freedom is to stay in one’s home, a very Hobbesian form of freedom.
And that itself is limited. Those bogans who have been ‘inciting’ public protests on Facebook etc have been arrested. After all, freedom of speech and the right to protest has been severely curtailed under emergency powers. A pregnant woman has been arrested and handcuffed in her own home for simply putting something mildly stupid on Facebook. Two elderly ladies sitting on a park bench have been arrested for sitting on a bench.
After the Hotel Quarantine failure which caused Victoria alone of all states to have the Covid pandemic resurge and take on new hideous momentum, the technocratic architect of this debacle has been accelerating the use of the agency of state power to restrict the freedoms of his victims, the citizens of Victoria.
This is all to keep us safe from the Covid. For how long? Do the measures now imposed by this unfettered technocrat in the past few days amount to a road map to the economic and social ruin of Victoria?
Let’s face it, we will be locked in our homes for the next three months at this rate, possibly longer. The metrics which have been proposed to end this lockdown (the harshest in Australia and possibly the world) are very hard targets to achieve. In the meantime, people are losing their livelihoods and many of the more economically and psychologically vulnerable are losing the will to live.
And people have lost the right to protest. Taking away the right of dissent, and to protest and express legitimate concerns, is the action of an autocrat, not of a democratic elected government. That last week cross bencher Fiona Patten was foolish enough to entrust the Premier with six more months of unfettered emergency powers was immediately revealed to be a huge mistake.