Re: [nanotech] economics, nanofacturing, and the social implications
- Mark,what I propose is to fight what is a real risk, the exploitation of emerging technologies to further oppress the underclasses...and what I get from you is that "we are all doomed"...you can't have it both ways...you say the world is not inevitably doomed, but when someone proposes ideas to fight against the trend you reply "but the world is doomed"paul colliernovusnow.com----- Original Message -----From: Mark GubrudSent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 7:48 PMSubject: Re: [nanotech] economics, nanofacturing, and the social implications> paulc@... wrote:
> computer power is already displacing brainpower in economic
> for example when architects and engineers use Autocad
> instead of hiring
> draftspeople, or when telephone operators are supplanted by
> voice-recognition and automated call-routing, etc. etc.
> These jobs are hardly the creative types of work required of
> human brains.
I don't think I claimed that computers were already equivalent to human
brains. They will be in a few decades. The issue of "creativity" is a
red herring. There is nothing that a human brain can do that a machine
of equivalent or greater processing power cannot.
> According to your cynical outlook, soon
> computers will be running the world
> for....COMPUTERES!!!!...wake up and smell the humans
They'll be running it for the wealthy individuals and institutions of
power that own them. Computers will "take over" only if we let them,
but unfortunately the present political-economic structure is more or
less guaranteed to let them.
> You seem to have a rather bleak view of the
No, a realistic assessment of what we're up against. Maybe I have in
some ways a more bleak view of the present than most people like to
have, but that, too, is realism. As for the future, it remains to be
> as for embracing technology, i see nothing wrong with
> that, especially if we are trying to embrace it to protect
> it from being horded by others....
Well, I prefer to embrace a warm human body, but I have nothing against
the use of technology to serve human needs and desires; what I object to
is deifying technology or allowing technology to set the agenda and I
object to any plans for dehumanization or the destruction of our
> do we want robots? just because we can make robots to
> design our homes and cars....do we want them? do we want to
> make ourselves redundant? whose interest would that serve?
People will want to use machines including robots and computers. Maybe
you enjoy doing some kinds of work, but usually only if you have a
choice, and if there's something you don't want to do but you need to
have it done, you may use a machine. In practice, there are a lot more
things that people want or need to have done than they have time or
desire to do themselves.
> According to you, I should go tie myself to a railroad track
> now and get it over with...who wants to live in your world?
I'm not sure what you base that on. The world can be whatever we make
it. I'm just pointing out the need for a radical rethinking of
> but then maybe your answer is to stop the spread of
> technology, to go back, something far more unrealistic than
> anything i've proposed
No, maybe that's your answer, but I never suggested such a thing. There
are some uses or forms of technology that we should block, but we can
use other forms of advanced technology to obtain what we desire without
threatening our own survival and values.
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- I think what Mr. Gurburd is doing is pointing out the depth and breadth
of possibilities that face us in the myriad futures ahead. He rightly
observes that technology is our tool, but that we are increasingly
creating tools that are not only smarter in some aspects, but less
dependant on us. I must agree that the day is coming when there will be
'machines' that do not need us for designs, improving designs,
programming, or creation. For him, or any of us, to refuse to admit the
possible dangers inherent in the products of our own creation would be
foolish and nearsighted. We must face the real possibilities that
creations can hurt the creators, and in facing that, consider steps to
deal with the eventuality, and potentially avoid it. "Hope for the
best, but prepare for the worst."
I agree that someday we will be the creators of an intelligence which is
not what we would today call 'natural.' By this point in time I think
that the host for this intelligence will, in many ways, resemble the
host for our own intelligence. How will we deal with that
intelligence? How will this intelligent creature react when we try and
use it as one would a slave? What will we answer if it asks if it has
rights to self-determination? If it has the right to 'educate' its own
progeny as it sees fit? If it asks if it has a soul?
My hope, and this is an ideal that may or may not happen, is that as we
begin to understand the structures of intelligence in nature, we can
begin to enhance certain aspects of our own abilities. By this point I
expect Moore's Law (the looming impracticality for continued silicon
based computing) to have taken effect, and we will have turned to
structures that more closely mirror what we have in nature. My hope is,
that while there may be differences in physicality and origin, we might
recognize that at the core we are more alike than unalike.
Of course, the reverse may happen. We might take the snotty attitude
that intelligence and awareness is immaterial, and that the created
exist to do our bidding. The result would likely be an eventual revolt
that would make the French Revolution or Civil Rights Movement look like
a school yard scrap. The oppressor may delude himself into thinking
control can be maintained indefinitely, but this is never so, and the
oppressor is always brought low. It would be 'amusing' to see if Frank
Herbert turned out to be a prophet, and a dictate such as 'Thou shalt
not make a machine in the image of the mind of man,' were to arise from
such a conflict. . . if we survive.
An interesting scenario you might include for your story. . . although I
don't expect you to. Ideas of this nature come best from one's own
head, rather than the head of another; but it may be something to
consider. In the setting I'm devising there is a resurgence of the
Ashram philosophy throughout India and the asia-pacific rim, backed by
the tools of nanotechnology. In this growing culture, which is rabidly
demonized by the WTO, they have basically fulfilled all the top needs of
Maslow's triangle (air, water, food, shelter, safety) at insanely low
costs. Communities produce their own necessities, and use structures
which might be seen as being alive; meaning they grow, draw sustenance
from the sun and earth, put down deep roots for water, etc. A major
part of this culture has been the renunciation of the monetary system.
It isn't a Utopia of course, as I don't believe in such things. When
Thomas More wrote Utopia, the story from which the word is coined, he
was quite correct in creating the name from two Greek words translating
as 'no place.'
It is a point that must be considered Paul. What if something arises
that renders the monetary system, for the most part, obsolete? It might
be an interesting challenge to the setting you create.