The Technological Element of The Sublime

Classifying something as sublime is not easy. There are many factors that go into classifying something as sublime, such as the thing/idea/event being overwhelmingly incomprehensible or the thing/idea/event having a some sort of sense that cannot be described other than to attribute its grandeur as undefinable and unable to be communicated accurately.  In his paper the American Technological Sublime, David Nye argues that for almost all of human history these defining characteristics could usually only be found in nature by way of large natural occurrences such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. These natural occurrences were seen as acts of god/gods and therefore were not only regarded as physically incomprehensible but were also religious events that inspired a kind of awe that humans could not recreate.

The Grand Canyon – Ben Davis

This seems to no longer be the case in the last couple decades. The modern world is much more secular and humanistic, nature is no longer incomprehensible but instead measured and metered in every way possible, which has started to eliminate the spiritual element of nature and replace it with an admiration of the technology that makes such measurements. This admiration for technology becomes sublime when the technology operates with numbers or in a system that make it seem incomprehensible or unimaginable. One such system that achieves this for me is the idea of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT will be essentially a super large network of technology that is connected through the internet.  While it is still in an infant stage, it is expected to grow to 18 billion devices by 2022. The applications and implication of a system this big are huge. People would be able to basically control everything technologically based in their world at a moments notice. This would include everything from their coffee pot and air conditioning to their self-driving cars of the future. This level of control over the environment is unprecedented and is sublime to me to imagine how vast and controlling this system would be once it is expanded to the majority of people.

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