Planet Ulrich

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Some kind suggestions from our friend to the Singularitarians

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Note: Many of these people are the kind who rooted for Arnold in the first Terminator, so they can be difficult to reach.

My friend tried here, though, by way of advising them on how to talk to a fearful public about the future:

You could just play clips from the Jetsons.

In all seriousness, that presents a world most people would both relate to and want, with various technologies (apart from the sky houses and floating cars, I suppose), that are
1.  More or less practicable within the reasonably foreseeable future, and
2.  Extensions of technology they already have, leading to
3.  A world very much like the world they are in now, (family life, work, etc., all very familiar), but with everything made more convenient (actually it’s a world rather like the world of upper middle class 1960s America, which was better in almost every imaginable way than the present)
I think that’s what most normal people want.  I actually mean it, I would start out with that, using it as a kind of icebreaker and intro into the larger talk, while laughing at it a bit to make the point that I wasn’t talking down to them.  Most of their ideas about technology will have been supplied by, or at least filtered through and heavily influenced by, pop culture concepts (probably true for all of us):
1.  Jetsons (positive and familiar, a kind of best case scenario with no millenarian/gnostic/utopian overtones, potentially contrasted against other referents:
2.  Forbidden Planet/Lost in Space (everybody loves Robbie the Robot)
3.  SkyNet (see, Robbie wouldn’t become self aware and decide to blow up the planet, a good contrast)
[Note to the reader: as above, some of these people want SkyNet to become self aware and blow up the planet]
4.  2001 (I guess a less educated crowd would be less likely to care about this one, but I think it has to be used if you’re really presenting pop culture based question/answers/scenarios involving the topic of AI)
[Note: They would have locked Dave outside of the spaceship too, don’t fool yourself]
5.  Wall-E (this is that hits close to home in ways that are difficult to explain away without people feeling as though they’re being personally attacked, and too many of the criticisms are obviously real and valid, but I’d be aware of the possibility of some skeptic throwing it at you)
[Note: People should feel like they’re being attacked.  That’s the point.  If you’re a blubbery moron whose entire life is spent staring into a little screen and clacking nonsense phrases to your imaginary friends, you should know that there’s a problem.  Not that people that far gone are capable any longer of understanding the problem…  or even recognizing themselves]
6.  The Borg (again, it’s a question of audience sophistication, but people are afraid, I’d say with good reason, of being absorbed into some kind of hive technology, so to allay those fears, they need to be addressed and arguments presented to calm them/refute their originating concepts)
[Note: Even more of these people want to be assimilated into the Borg than want SkyNet to blow up the planet, and/or Arnold to come back from the future and kill everybody.]
7.  The Matrix (I think this one can be skipped or mocked; it’s really not something average people think about/take seriously, and it was more of a philosophy of mind/Marxist thought experiment than an exploration of any kind of likely future, machine made or otherwise)
[Note: I’ve since changed my mind about that.  I think the Matrix was quite serious, or should be taken extremely seriously; Marxists may have originated the concepts of false consciousness and the spectacle, but that doesn’t make those ideas invalid; I’d say they were onto quite a lot….
I consider Google, for example, a kind of criminal conspiracy against the existence of independent thought…  if those people could create something like the Matrix, basically a permanent filter that intermediates between each person and the world, becoming his reality, starting as a crutch, then a substitute, coming to take the place of unmediated life in the world, not only answering all of his questions but telling him what the answers mean, how they should be interpreted….   making him feel as though its “memories” are his memories, and its judgements infallible… something always there, something he comes to think of as merging with himself…,  well
they’d do it.  I think they’re on their way.)

Written by ulrichthered

February 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Singularity

Tagged with , , ,

Automation and the supposed end of Manual labor

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“…we need to create a world where people are equally valuable; we need to create a world where people cannot be forced into any terrible bargains. We need to aim for a world where no one makes choices that are hard and heartbreaking. This is a structural problem. It’s a societal problem.”
Actually, “we” don’t need to do any of those things, which are in fact quite impossible.  People are not now and never will be “equally valuable” (unless the words equally and valuable are interpreted so broadly as to be meaningless).
Further, there will always be terrible bargains and choices that are hard and heartbreaking.  Even if all of this supposedly wondrous upcoming technology allows us to Immanentize the latest Eschaton and bring about a post human era of perfect abundance, this writer’s affected demands could never be realized without essentially denying humanity completely (transforming it into something very different; inequality, difficult choices, and all of the rest of it are simply part of what it means to have individual humans, and not something else, like, say, an insect colony, or the Borg).
(Now, the bulk of the Singularitarian crowd would prefer something like absorption into the Borg to continued existence as free, separate humans, but they are neither representative nor, in my view, sane.)

Written by ulrichthered

February 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm