Singularity beef, day 5

Paul Raven @ 27-06-2011

Yup, it’s still rolling. Here’s the post-Stross posts that came in over the weekend:

Anyone else catch any goodies?

[ * Interestingly enough, Fukuyama himself has more recntly veered considerably away from the theories espoused in The End Of History… ]

[ ** For the record, I really admire Brin as a challenging thinker; I’d admire him even more if he spent less time reminding me of his past successes. ]


Rationalising the promises of transhumanism

Paul Raven @ 29-10-2010

My brain is broken today (real ale festivals: not quite so fun the day after!), so I’m devoid of my usual scintillating wit and astute commentary on the big questions of the day*. So instead, go read this lucid call-to-arms to H+ advocates and cheerleaders from Mike Treder, managing director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies [via Queering The Singularity].

Don’t you remember all those promises of decades past, that our awesome technologies soon would enable us to eliminate illness, to banish poverty, end aging, and control the weather? That everyone then would enjoy a world of abundance and opportunity? Don’t you realize that for people who are paying attention, this is déjà vu all over again?

No, it doesn’t work that way. It never has and it never will. Reality intrudes.

So let’s not continue to make the mistakes of the past. Let’s try to be a little smarter this time.

Instead of promoting exciting visions of a utopian future, we could shift our focus to discussions of how to better prepare for uncertain change, how to create sustainable and resilient human societies, how to live in better harmony with each other and with the rest of the natural world around us.

Shorter version: quit grandstanding, start talking to people about realistic risks and rewards. Hearts and minds.

I have a lot of sympathy with Treder’s thinking, there, but I’m not particularly optimistic about the chances of bringing rational foresight to the general population; if dumb populist soundbitery were that easily conquered, Glenn Beck would be flipping burgers for a living. But hey, that’s all the more reason to keep fighting, AMIRITES?

[ * Sorry, no refunds. ]