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Re: [nanotech] economics, nanofacturing, and the social implications

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  • paulc@novusnow.com
    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
    Message 1 of 18 , Jun 4, 2003
      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 collier
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 7:48 PM
      Subject: Re: [nanotech] economics, nanofacturing, and the social implications

      > paulc@... wrote:

      >      computer power is already displacing brainpower in economic
      >      roles,
      >      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.
      >      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
      >      future....

      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.

      The Nanotechnology Industries mailing list.
      "Nanotechnology: solutions for the future."

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    • Andrew
      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
      Message 2 of 18 , Jun 4, 2003
        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.

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