THE THREE CAVES OF DOOM
Civilization has spawned its final knights...
Bill Joy, the Sun System's co-founder and one of the IT-pioneers, is very worried. About the future, about mankind's place in it. Some years ago he wrote an article in the magazine Wired, entitled "Why the future doesn't need us." In the article he is stating three areas of scientific development in the 21st century, Nanotechnology (smart, microscopical machines), Genetic Engineering and Robotics (GNR), that single-handedly or in unison may spell the end of the human species.
He's just worried, of course, nothing more. He doesn't really believe it will happen, just that it might, if we're not careful. The good scientist isn't really probing very deep in the matter. The article is more of a discussion of possible consequences, an illumination of problem areas to be solved, than an attack on technology, civilization itself.   This article isn't so much about Joy really, as much as his "opposite number" Hans Moravec. Moravec is the true techno guru. He isn't only stating that the transformation from human to cyborg or even machine is inevitable, but also desirable. Humans are obsolete, he says, in the brave new world...
Nanotechnology, Genetic Engineering and Robotics (GNR) has one thing in common, not possible for other, previous human suicidal creations like the atomic bomb: They can easily replicate themselves in vast numbers. Beyond a certain point, of no return, they can breed completely independently of human "aid". This is in fact, the very foundation of the three of them, the centre of their "intended" "benefits", that they can create completely independent self-sufficient systems. It's one step further, perhaps the final step in our tailspin suicidal run. One thing is what individuals can do with the technology. Another far more grave aspect, is what society itself can do with it. It doesn't really have to spiral out of control, as such. As all technology it will immerse itself into the world, and it will conquer it, but on a scale never before seen. There are a lot of possible, probable scenarios, where the inventions completely overtake their inventors.
We have the doomsday, terminator scenario, of course, just as probable as the others, where a conscious, self-aware mechanical entity or a host of entities see humanity as their enemies and decides to exterminate them.
But this isn't really the most likely scenario. The most likely is, in short, what's happening today, that humanity is slowly, inevitably undermining its own footing, making itself obsolete. Every possible nightmare, imagined by science-fiction writers, is finally possible.
I, myself, find more and more common characteristics with Holocaust, the German genocide of Jews during World War 2, and current human society. It was a slow process really. First the Jews were terrorized, than collected, than skipped on trains, gathered in camps, made to build the camps, digging trenches, later to be revealed to be graves, to be instrumental in their own extermination. The difference is, of course, that no one is doing it to us. There's no outside force engineering our genocide. We are doing it... to ourselves.
Moravec is "right".
Moravec and people like him, (who among other things, want to freeze their own brain upon death), aren't really the world's decision-makers. They're just enjoying excellent working conditions in this modern world of ours. Like Doctor Mengele, the infamous death-camp scientist, they're merely taking advantage of the situation as it presents itself and is able and willing to excel in it. In many ways, they're the ultimate sycophants. In a world of followers, they're an expression of the sheep-mentality so prevalent among the present day humanity.
There aren't really any decision-makers...
There is one knight in each of the 3 Caves of Doom, waiting to save us, save us from Nature, save us from everything from the common cold to a bleeding finger. Three more knights in a long row, but these three may very likely be the ultimate culprits. Yes, the noble knights are always at hand... Our only hope is that the dragons can slay them, slay them all, before it's too late.
Throughout the "rise" of civilization, bad as it has been, there have always existed possibilities for saying "no", (even if the dynamics of such an act more are suggesting a return to the wilderness through a temporary doomsday scenario) and return our birthright of the Wild to ourselves. That possibility, and even the possibility of Life at all, is approaching a point of No Return.
The Final Surrender, Submission (to The Machine) is at hand. As it stands humanity has set itself up nicely, "to go silently into the night". Go, not with a cry, but with a whimper.
From the edge of consciousness
Amos Keppler 2000 - 2004
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The Monsanto Files - One downloadable word 7.0 file about the greed and stupidity in us all.
(And the even worse greed and stupidity in the company of Monsanto and of Monsanto executives)...
A typical corporation in the system of capitalism and civilization.
Hans Moravec Home Page - See the insane "genius" at work.
About Moravec and friends - do you want to be a robot?
These people, these groups of people, are not the exception, they are the norm.
Insanity is the norm.
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