Archive for April, 2011
The very dangerous reality that human kind has the potential to create technological potential that our societies will be divided on regarding how we should and shouldn’t use it, was enough to scare me of the hyper-individuality that I’d witness in the 20th century, and inspire all of the writing in Integrationalism.
Ray Kurzweil talks above about exponential growth versus linear growth. Its actually very basic mathematics to the formally educated… The mathematical fact that something can be multiplied by itself instead of by some constant coefficient. Traditionally we’ve thought of growth as linear. we start with something (e.g. ‘1’), and build onto it by some constant (e.g. ‘2’) and so the series goes 1, 2, 4, 8,…n —> But our technological growth over the centuries (as long as we’ve managed to retain and control knowledge of existing technologies) has been exponential where (e.g. 2×2=4 and 4×4=16 and 16×16=256). While the growth is small in the beginning, at a point the body of things (technological knowledge in this case) starts to affect change at a vast sweeping rate. 256×256=65536 and 4294967296 and so on.
Most of my sociologist and psychologist friend as me how could I be a technological determinist over being a social constructivist….and while I have a more fundamental argument that I will share in some later article, I’d sometimes like to use the exponents (exponential growth example) to show that technological progression outpaces social progression; further, making it unlikely that social sentiments influence our potential over the scientific outliers who better represent counterculture in their efforts design solutions to problems. It’s a bit elitist, eh?
Having addressed the lack of human kind spearheading changes in society, I think its valuable to consider what are the cultural effects of exponential growth in some of the emerging technologies and their ability to product information technologies? This is one of the questions that I’ll be conducting thought experiments and trying to gather empirical data on i the near future. I’ve said before that
“Sciences…Technologies of sorts, only start to become
valuable when they create Information Technologies, this is when we
start to understand things that are not intuitive.”
The picture in this post is from William Sims Bainbridge’s innovation model and shows the logical method by which technological solutions, where they be biological, computer based, IT based, or other, will engage us. When I consider the model and Kurzweil’s exponential growth, I’m a beyond worried about losing the brain potential of the nearly 7 billion people that will surely believe that nanotechnologies and the like are a direct result of magic. We should not take lightly that during our (what will seem like a) rapid explosion of technological ability we might lose the formerly humaistic connections formed during the present integration period of globalization. Will we use nanotechnologies as an information technology to continually update everyone on everything, generating a society of calculation instead of superstition?Regardless of if it is desirable or not, living in the know is theoretically inevitable. The valuable question is; how many of us will be there?
With the integration of human beings and technological enhancement, the ideal of what is morally just becomes increasingly ambiguous, referencing the seemingly endless scenarios of mechanical, electrical, and bio engineering enhancements that have propelled individuals of our kind to mature well beyond the centennial of exploration.
While the philosophical quarrels of today regarding emerging technologies are specific to ethics and what we have the power to do versus what we should do, I don’t think that we’ve spent enough time exploring what ethics are and to whom they apply.
Ethics, or the moral regard, has the potential to be somewhat relative when individuals fail to subscribe to the same social normative. Similar to legal standards, citizens or subscribers of a society agree on laws of sorts, and are only protected by those laws through acknowledging themselves as a member.
Although the Homo genus can define all humans in the known past and existing today, our sub species or sub group needs to be further narrowed as a result of the technologically forced evolution that is taking place currently.
Inside the group that we currently identify as human, per the attempted Universal Declaration of Human Rights presented by the United Nations, there is a great difference between the (Homo) extensions of the technological elite and the aboriginal groups that we’ve identified as Homo sapiens sapiens since approximately 200,000 years ago.
Today individuals use enhancements for physical deterioration and deprivation (like gene therapy or implants), cognitive abilities for qualitative and quantitative methods (like microprocessors), mechanical assistance both dynamic and static (like prosthetics and motor propulsion), and many other technologies, leading to a great difference in ability and, further, potential. These differences are at least as distinct—if not much more so—as between Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens idaltu.
Homo sapiens idaltu co-existed with Homo sapiens sapiens approximately 160,000 years ago, and became obsolete in their survival pursuits at locations in north and east Africa. The similar anatomical appearances of sapiens sapiens and sapiens idaltu are at least as significant as the differences between, say, Stephen Hawkins or the late Michael Jackson and the indigenous Australians (pictured right: perhaps our most identifiable linkage to the prevailing Homo sapiens sapiens some 160,000 years ago). All of the Homo species still possess the same bipedal primate designation, but that may change in the future.
The modern rhetoric of humanity is synonymous with inefficiencies (qualitative), ineffectiveness (qualitative), and inequality (lacking benevolence). I find that humans in passing typically state things similar to the ideal that our lack of proficiency is not only intrinsic to being human, but also desirable. Humans need to decide how they want to grow.
Of course there is an unfinished debate between the technological determinists and the social constructionists that would acknowledge how we grow. Perhaps the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature should modify its code to accommodate another variation in taxonomic rank of dual existing Homo sapiens subspecies. Of course the PEST (political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological) implications of such a classification are a huge regulatory undertaking, but it wouldn’t necessarily cease the orchestration by technological elites of the other factions in human societies.
One of my fellow contributors to the Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies site has brought up some ethical issues that we as a society of intellectuals have failed to address well: Distribution of Value. I write about this in my essay technologies will collapse capitalism as we know it. Having been an error-proof engineer in both product and service industries, I’ve seen jobs leave as a direct result of us getting better and documenting, benchmarking, and deploying design. The exponential growth of our technological resources is trending our human resources to zero, per our existing socio-economic/political paradigm.
While I agree that the difference between executive pay and jobs distribution in the West is daunting (regardless of the foreign jobs growth), I can’t ignore the efforts of “error-proofers” and their technological impact on the corporate world. We simply don’t need people to perform the tasks that they once did…And I’m not referring to the obsolete “blue collar” labor of the 20th century, but more specifically the “white collar” labor of the last 10 years. In a world of methodological and technological efficiency (quantitative) and effectiveness (qualitative), I think that we need to spend more time exploring what “Value” is for the individual. Clearly John Paulson is not worth 1 Billion USDollars per year, and Joe the Plumber isn’t worth only 20 Thousand
To my point, human kind (and its pending synthetically intelligent counterparts) require a philosophical and ethical paradigm that establishes what (if any) the individual’s intrinsic value is….and stop asking for jobs that don’t exist.
Problem: The executive community (and the non-executives) subscribes to a variety of socio-economic/political philosophies that all stem from mercantilism. Some may be more liberal or conservative than others, but the derived general ideal is that people can be validated as valuable by the wage that they command. Of course this understanding has all types of ill social and political implications.
Future Forward: If human kind is going to manage it’s way through an age of formidable human-created intelligence it will need to establish its values in order to preserve its potential. Potential meaning (as I always eventually revert back to…lol) the ability to self-actualize and create on behalf of the collective society/group/species.
We are well on our way to building the infrastructure to discover, develop, and distribute every engaged being through information technology and networking of various other technologies, but our rhetoric needs to be clear now, we do not want jobs that don’t exist for people who have been rendered obsolete by the error-proof experts of corporate world. We want the potential to self actualize and grow in this dynamic world/galaxy/universe/multiverse…–>
Overall, the nation’s population growth for the decade slowed to 17.64% over the past 10 years from 21.54% in the decade to 2001.
Literacy increased for the country as a whole—climbing to 74% from about 65%.
At the turn of the 18th century and the burgeoning of the industrial age Thomas Robert, the renowned demographer of his day foretold that the population would not be able to outgrow the food supply while referencing the populations in London. Approximately 30 years later the refrigerator was invested in London by an America inventor Jacob Perkins.
Similarly: The story of our lives is one of technological determinism. Technological innovation’s effect on society in the industry of food supply and preservation…the increasing literacy through technologies and living quality in the “emerging world” can be curbed if we allow the potential for self-actualization and quality of life to pervade the populations.
Differently: The problems of technological distribution today do not result from any inherent scarcity, but an extrinsic brought upon by institutional scarcity. At current, we fight for existence like cells for energy or ignorant animals for intrinsically scarce resources…canceling each other out through protectionist (conservative) measures. Although we regularly show ourselves our technologically ability we rarely allow that ability to pervade our peer and peer groups to provide wide spread quality of life or rather, self-actualization where it could/should be.
Human kind doesn’t have a population problem (yet); we do however, have a problem with recognizing the intrinsic value in other humans and consequentially we don’t differentiate well between intrinsic and extrinsic scarcity. Here in Integrationalism, we’ll be defining that value.
Instead of God-like…Think of #Singularity as opportunity to design benevolent super-intelligence. More effective than the ambiguous Abrahamic #judge #forgiver #guide http://ht.ly/4rSny We’ve got to get away from these old world arguments.