Planet Ulrich

A Dangerous Subversive Takes on the Future, with Movie Reviews!

Skepticism vs Techno-Triumphalism

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Isn’t this really more of a description of “cybernetic” enthusiasts themselves:
“like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.”
Anyway, why do you care if some people “hold out” against cybernetics, however you define that?  
Do you consider the future fear of a “robot threat” you describe to be irrational, or do you think there will actually be some kind of “robot threat” (a strange position coming from someone who seems to be a kind of enthusiast for building robots, but a fair question)?
I don’t know, all I ever hear is techno-triumphalism.  Where are the “influential” skeptics who are using their supposed power to block technology adoption?

It seems to me, to the extent the modern West has a religion, or the secular/bastardization of one, it is technophilia, the idea that technology will continue to advance, knowledge will accumulate over time, and conditions will improve, leading ultimately to abundance (the Big Rock Candy Mountain).  (witness variations, Marx, Bellamy, Kurzweil, etc.)
It is fashionable to sneer at fundamentalists and other benighted/inferior people while handwringing about all of the wonderful things that could be accomplished if only they weren’t in the way, but I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that such people are in the way (that they have any effect of consequence upon either the development or the adoption of useful technology).
I suppose someone could reference the ban on embryonic stem cell research as an example of such obstruction, but ESC, at least in my understanding, has been eclipsed anyway by induced pluripotent stem cells; further, I think there were legitimate ethical concerns with ESC that did need to be addressed.
Anyway, I really don’t think snake handlers in trailer parks are your problem, or, for that matter, desert nomads wandering around blowing up religious icons and stoning people.
The FDA certainly impedes development/adoption of all kinds of potentially useful therapies, among other government organizations, though I believe it does so more for institutional/bureaucratic reasons (and protection of the interests of big Pharma) than out of some malice towards development in itself.
I stand by what I said before.  I don’t see any reason why everyone on Earth should be expected to adopt the same vision that some people around here seem to have formed about what we should do with technology, and I’m not convinced that hostility to those skeptical about such views is derived from the influence of such people (the extent to which they threaten development, etc.).  I think rather it’s a way people have of feeling better about themselves (as in, we’re so much better than those rube/morons who are afraid of the Future); I hear variations on this a lot from megalopolitans when they’re talking about flyover America; by the way, the Future is actually quite popular with the rubes/morons (go out into cow country, everybody has an Xbox, 25gigs of porn, wiFi, streaming Netflix and a 42inch tv; they might think they believe in Jesus, or whatever, but in practice, they buy all of the same junk as your average metrosexual in northern Virginia [you know, the one with the Apple sticker on the back window of his Prius])
I don’t really think it’s my place to ram any views down anyone’s throats, particularly down the throats of anyone living far away, according to their own traditions (such as they are), who presumably have their own reasons for doing things that are none of my business (however repellant/barbaric/savage I might consider such practices/traditions). (Such things would become my business if those people, say, showed up here; that’s a different topic).
I suppose if I believed in the singularity I would be marginally more sympathetic to the idea that we need to go out into the world, spread the good news to the unenlightened, and save them from their apparent ignorance(consequences of their inherently sinful existences, whatever), but only marginally.  Messianic/millenarian/missionary talk, all of that, always seems to spring from this feeling that the one true way has been revealed/discovered, and we have to Make it Known; I don’t believe there is one true way.  Even if I thought the Singularity were coming, I would still see it as one possibility among many (having different degrees of desirability).
Wouldn’t it be better for us to proceed, making what discoveries we think we can, while conscious that not all change is improvement, things do not necessarily get better with time, knowledge builds, and declines (gains are not all cumulative, and some knowledge actually leads to consequences that are more destructive than helpful), that people have different capacities and values, and that it is neither possible, nor desirable for everyone to converge into some single, universalized way of being in the world?

Written by ulrichthered

March 29, 2013 at 11:53 am

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