The Internet is coming to be seen as the latest creation of human ingenuity to extent the reach of human powers and desire which has been central to the era of modernism beginning in the latter 19th century.
The Internet began as a government military communications project which was quickly adapted by enterprising technological companies and parts of the public such as writers and researchers to their own uses. From its beginnings as an advanced communications and research tool, the Internet before long evolved into a wide field of play for a diverse, worldwide population to keep in touch with friends and relatives and find new friends, marketplace for all types of products, means for all sorts of publishing from brief blogs posts to novels and poems to continually-growing databases. The involvement of masses of a worldwide population changed the nature of the Internet from its beginnings as a practical tool devised for limited purposes mainly in communication to a phenomenon which was changing both the psychology of individuals and many domestic societies and global society.
Now that the basic practical issues of communication and commerce have been worked out and numberless individuals instinctively turn to and rely on the Internet for maintaining family and social relations, education, news, scheduling their lives, and shopping, speculation about other dimensions of the Internet are being given serious consideration by the avant garde of the technorati.
Jaron Lanier, the Internet visionary and critic, wrote in an essay “The First Church of Robotics” about the view being promulgated by Singularity University that it will not be long before “the Internet will suddenly coalesce into a super-intelligent A. I.” The growing number of of entries–already vast–will reach a point of synergy whereby the Internet takes on a life of its own. As Lanier points out, no one knows if this will be to the good or ill for Humankind. Whether this actually happens is not the point here though. The point here is that individuals seeped in the activity and potential of the Internet are already looking at it as a superhuman phenomenon. Whereas in earlier phases of modernism and subsequent postmodernism, the concept of prosthetics was seen as extending humanity’s powers and helping to fulfill its desires, the Internet–a human creation–is now being seen as a superhuman phenomenon. As some see it, the Internet “will become alive in the blink of an eye, and take over the world before humans even realize what’s happening,” Lanier writes.
This aspiration articulated by members of parts of the technorati about the volume of images and text of the Internet is like a latter-day Tower of Babel. As the Tower of Babel was meant to bring Humankind to the adobe of Divinity by reaching into the sky with a tower taking into it all the diverse, far-flung voices of Humankind, so is the Internet seen as a creation assimilating all voices to become the omniscience and infinitude of Divinity. “Let there be Light, said God; and there was Light.” Where now some believe the Internet will become “alive in the blink of an eye”.
Like the Tower of Babel, the Internet is seen as the unique, incomparable, ingenious reflection of humanity’s highest hopes and deepest fears–the hope of concert with Divinity, the fear that this is otherwise impossible. The Internet differs from the Tower of Babel however in that the Tower of Babel was seen as a human creation meant to bring Humankind into proximity with God; whereas the Internet is seen as a creation which will in the “blink of an eye” become the essence of God. This view of the Internet goes with the Promethean hubris of modernism. (Skyscrapers and Mars’ landings are other outcroppings of this hubris in the course of modernism.) With this hubris comes the dissolution of boundaries (e. g., globalism)–so that now the boundary between Humankind and Divinity is dissolved in the view of the Internet as both autonomous and accessible. Adherents are in awe of its autonomy, and have a reverential gratitude for its accessibility. The Internet has reached a point where it is being regarded and interacted with by many as a locus for religious experiences, beliefs, and hopes.