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Why the Future Doesn't Need Us—Revisited


#1

Why the Future Doesn't Need Us—Revisited

Ralph Nader

When the stunning article “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” by Bill Joy, chief scientist for Sun Microsystems, made the cover of Wired Magazine in April 2000, it created quite a rumble in high-tech circles. Its argument was that “our most powerful 21st century technologies—robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech—are threatening to make humans an endangered species.”


#2

It isn't robotics and artificial intelligence that is endangering humans, it is the reality of a worsening climate disaster. Maybe robots and artificial intelligence will be able to live in this planet in the future because we won't. It could be a way of preserving something of ourselves.


#3

"Last December, in an interview with the BBC, Stephen Hawking, through his computer-generated voice, warned that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race… It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.” Hawking, a big thinker, noted that “humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

This just about says it all, and Steven Hawking is one Man these people need to listen to-
Our Planet is in dire straits and Death and Destruction is all these great "Leaders" can think of-It is always something "anti-life" with these sick fu--ers!


#4

Well, if that is so, I hope the cockroaches come up with A successful plan to exterminate them- We certainly won't deserve "preserving" anything what-so-ever of "ourselves"-
My God-You can do better than that Man!


#7

"Congress has played ostrich ever since. The American people will surely pay the price unless a tiny few, including leaders of the scientific community, organize and demand that Congress reinstate this technical warning system that OTA provided." The new little wonders make it a near certainty that Earthpeople, not just "The American People," are currently paying a price, and the ante is being upped almost daily. These cybercontraptions threaten humanankind not just by replacing us but by poisoning us, wrecking an already aged and destabilized infrastructure, and contributing to the fetishistic fascination with spiffy high tech gadgets and processes that contribute to the what has begun to be called "pretraumatic stress disorder," a psychological state that seems to be driving many people to go get bombs and guns and use them against nearly anything that scares or annoys them. I think of it as a grudge held against the future with many people, many of them young, feeling angry that the years just ahead are inhospitable, not the least bit welcoming, downright menacing, and new tech miracles are to be of no help at all but contribute to the mechanized madhouse currently being made.

This idea is not new. Kurt Vonnegut, in 1965, said in "God Bless You, Mister Rosewater," put it this way:

"Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.”

It has taken far longer than I expected it would to get here, allowing me to reach old age perhaps just in time to actually witness the final descent down the tubes.


#8

I know it's not positive but it's the reality:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14473
We've kick-started a process the planet has gone through before and there is little we can do about it now. I think we've got a lot worth preserving in our thought, observations and culture -- I don't know for whom. I think we should still do everything possible to moderate the process and adapt in small numbers.


#10

I know this sounds hopelessly optimistic, but I was once given to the thought that Technology might possibly pull us out of this one- Kind of like A reverse/altered HAARP type thing-
The reality is one scary thought but I will do all I can to help out and go out dreaming in the end, if you will....


#11

You got that right.

Then again 20 years is one hell of a long time for technological invention or maybe we aren't using the computers that have become so big a part of our lives these past 20 years?

It isn't that AI is the problem, I mean R2D2 had a lot of personality for a droid and all that. But even Darth Vader would be more merciful than would be a military AI. A machine that can decide to take a life is pretty much about as bad as militarism can get.

Forget the Terminator movies (those robots were pretty dumb after all) and Hollywoodized AIs. Think instead of a gun that decides when to fire on its own. Hack that baby. Not R2D2 but an autonomous gun hunting living beings. Not some future Terminator scenario but think instead of sentry emplacements which target anything moving across a border based on heat and motion detectors.

There will be no mercy from a machine.

Moreover as AI progresses in development, think household AIs that turn on lights, brew coffee, place orders for delivery of groceries, even cook food and what not. Maybe drive your car so very very safely... but lock the doors and come to a stop keeping you imprisoned until the police arrive.

I think semi-intelligent or rudimentary intelligent AIs (autonomous targeting mobile guns) already in development are bad news for those who fear the further devaluation of human life and have a problem accepting the concept of collateral damage as a permissible part of military warfare. An autonomous sentry (a machine gun that targets any movement crossing a border for example) is devaluing human life in the extreme.

Don't ever get lost or misread a map.


#12

The Kurt Vonnegut passage along with a few from Smedley Butler's "War is a Racket" would be a good foundation for a campaign platform.


#13

Does it really matter if man disappears? I for one don't care. The sooner we go, the better. Does the Universe really need us stinking up the joint? Maybe artificial intelligence can do better...maybe this is just humanity's own evolution, call it the Big Step. Whatever, I don't see the harm in man's demise, contrary, I see it as a vast improvement for everything else that lives here – and elsewhere.


#14

And yet, if we stick around just long enough to develop a generation of robotic/AI systems capable of day-to-day self sufficiency (including adaptation to changing weather conditions), then...a whole different ball game would be upon us. Better dystopian writers will create more realistic scenarios, but one that I can think of would have humans kept in cage-like conditions by the AI systems, the way we keep rabbits in our backyard. The AI systems would recognize that, for all our helplessness in the brave new world of weather-driven chaos, human brains retain an element of ingenuity that the AI systems would recognize as lacking in themselves, so they would keep enough humans around to help troubleshoot occasional troubles. Humans as rabbits may be only narrow path to avoid total extinction when we lose our habitat.


#15

The joyous laughter of a toddler running to a mother's hug. A masterpiece of art enjoyed by millions. A piece of music beloved through many generations by hundreds of millions. The courage of a fireman rescuing a child from the flames. The brilliance of a mind that discovers a medical cure or writes a bill of rights.

Yeah we are a bunch of selfish greedy jerks who are stinking up the joint but we have our moments and for all our faults, we manage to make things get better eventually. We try anyway.

If we disappeared... the universe would probably miss us.


#16

No worries Ralph! John Connor is coming. (Terminator 2, 1991)?


#17

If the machines are really intelligent, there's no reason why they cannot be superior ethical beings as well, unlike murderous Man who would kill for pleasure, despite the knowledge that it is wrong. Intelligent machines can, by definition, act logically, and not likely to produce irrational acts of hatred like humans.


#19

I see the path forward being that of transformations in social/economic/political structures, with the establishment of social democracies consisting of about 80% social democracy 20% capitalism mix, and incorporating new approaches to technology that indicate having the potential to largely solve our many environmental problems - this in concert with ethical standards becoming more prevalent and exercising more control over the commons resources. I see no other path forward that can save the planet. About the new scientific/technological developments see ufsolution.wix.com/unifiedfieldsolution


#20

if they were really intelligent then they'd have the same capacities as man including a murderous lack of empathy. Maybe they would kill for pleasure because pleasure is part of intelligence btw. Logic? Logically intelligent machines would presumably see the need to remove the competition... us. Not irrational nor hatred... pragmatism. Humans are too unpredictable. Not orderly and precise.

Oh by the way what would be the purpose in being 'alive' for a machine? Does it like things? Want things? Desire, dislike, love, hate...does it have any motivation to do anything that is part of being alive? Why would a machine actually want to paint a Mona Lisa? It would be able to do it of course but why would it want to?


#21

There are THREE and they are a menace:

"That is why Bill Joy saw all three of these technologies—nanotechnology, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence—as interwoven systems expanding over the globe beyond human control."


#22

Wereflea

"Maybe they would kill for pleasure because pleasure is part of intelligence ..."

Machine in MAN'S image and likeness. The flaw in the design plan is the absence of Feminine Sentience.


#23

Personally, I think Technology is THE problem.


#24

Indeed, Wereflea. I concur. I think of similar things. But no matter how beautiful the painting, the symphony, no matter how brilliant the technology, at the end of the day we suck. And we let it suck because we can't transcend that short distance between the tips of our reaching fingers to their necks because we can't be mean, or ugly, or disrespectful. The only way to reverse course is to say to them no mass and say it in a way that they get the message and clearly understand. Unfortunately for us the only thing they understand (and do better than us) is that kicking our asses keeps us in-line, and they do that very well–in a variety of ways. Apparently in the near (or not to distant future) they'll be a hoard of robots of sorts to do that task for 'em.

*Now, *have a good day**!