Planet Ulrich

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Posts Tagged ‘letter to singularitarians

A Letter from a friend to the Singularitarians

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Good day.

I would describe myself as a qualified technology enthusiast (which is to say, someone excited about certain intermediate term technological possibilities [regenerative medicine, genomics, robotics, etc.], while skeptical about others [AI, the singularity, the Internet as it has evolved {post Web 2.0}, the surveillance state, etc.]).

So I’m neither a Luddite nor an extropian.  I have all of the rectangles (Plasma, LCD, Mac Pro [with dual widescreens!] MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc.), and I’ve been online one way or another since the BBS days, but I don’t watch commercial television; I don’t post on Facebook, Tweet, pass around YouTube clips, or otherwise spend my days playing with my telephone.

I also don’t believe that the Singularity will bring about abundance, the withering away of the state, or the peaceful ascension of humans into physical immortality (as indefinitely young post-humans) (most of that would be just fine, I just don’t think any of it will happen, not all at once, and if at all, not for a long time).

Technology is used by people (who seem intent on reducing it to its most moronic or destructive possible applications, like the blubbery infantile post humans chattering away at each other from their motorized chairs in Wall-E); I don’t believe people become magically transformed from the vapid, annoying, myopic, grasping clods they tend to be as individuals into some kind of wise superhuman force by stacking them on top of each other either (whether you call that stacking the market or democracy or state or metastate) (so I’m not receptive to arguments about market process [unhindered, of course, by the State] just solving all of our problems for us)  I’m not anti-market (I was an Austrian!), I just don’t sacrifice to the Market God, just as I’m not anti-Machine, but believe:

The machines were created to serve us, not replace us.

As a lifelong anti-Marxist, I never believed in the labor theory of value (and think the closest thing we can get to a social ideal would be having the machines  do all of the [non-creative] work, freeing humans to do more interesting things with their time; rather like Athens or the Roman Republic (with machines standing in for the slaves).

Until recently, nobody really cared about “jobs” (work was for slaves), what they cared about was wealth.

Written by ulrichthered

February 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm

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