Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wired 15th Anniversary Reflection

Just posted a comment over at, on their 15th Anniversary reflection: 15th Anniversary: Why the Future Still Needs Us a While Longer. Reprinted here:

The Singularity, a political landscape where technology imposes some of the decision, all of this I am for. The failures and misery within the contemporary world are caused by 2500-1000 year old religious frameworks. Technology making decisions about our social sphere will surely help humanity get past our moral frameworks. The old moral frameworks oscillate between a silly and dumbed down pacifism and a genetically charged militarism.

Technology will be too intelligent to follow the purely pacifist path, and too distant from genetics to care to make that kind of war.


Ryan Hawkes said...

No thank you. How can 'technology' impose some of the decisions unless they are created with certain human frames in mind? How can technology 'surely help humanity get past our moral frameworks' when they are created through and of these same moral frameworks.

Technology is made up of physical objects (and use the nonphysical such as information) that have been created by humans, therefore it is impossible to remove them from the moral frameworks that created them.

Pacifism versus Agressive Dominance. Is there no other frame that exists today?

The Serpent Lord said...

I suspect some of these religious frameworks could be more like 30,000 years old (similarities between prehistoric cave paintings in France and South and more recent paintings by the San whose religion includes heaven, hell, the mighty sky god and other familiar elements.) And specifically the role of religion in making political decisions that affect civilization must go back at least 5500 years to the mesopotamian ziggurat-building flood-dodgers. (Back in the good old days when the distinction between priest, banker and pimp was a lot fuzzier.)

In round figures, it is now one percent of a million years later, and things are finally starting to change. What is driving the change? Some folks think it's the semi-atheism of their favorite monistic or monotheistic faiths. (christianity, islam, buddhism, etc.) Others cite the humanism of their favorite philosophical reformations (protestantism, science, modernism etc.)

But here's another way of looking at it: technology is NOT physical objects, it's culture which transforms people. Chimpanzees and many other animals have culture which transforms their environment and quality of life, but only humans have culture which transforms us.

The singularity is already here - it's the force driving exponential development in many fields. We create technology, the technology changes us as we use it, and then we see - with new eyes - how to create technology which changes us again. The first stages of this process may have begun 100, 1000 or 10,000 years ago, but what matters most is the changes happening right now because those are the changes that are creating us, the currently living generation.

People who think technology doesn't make decisions haven't really understood what a computer is or why it is useful. Or put another way they haven't understood that the computer is useful because it is part of them, and part of how they make decisions. (Even avoiding computer hardware, like the unabomer, simply guarantees that your ideas will be shaped by the shadow cast by computerized decision making.)