Empty Days

Saturday, July 10, 2004



Why the future doesn't need us.
In this age of triumphant commercialism, technology - with science as its handmaiden - is delivering a series of almost magical inventions that are the most phenomenally lucrative ever seen. We are aggressively pursuing the promises of these new technologies within the now-unchallenged system of global capitalism and its manifold financial incentives and competitive pressures.
Heh. The only "challenge" happened on 9/11 - it wasn't much of a challenge.
These possibilities are all thus either undesirable or unachievable or both. The only realistic alternative I see is relinquishment: to limit development of the technologies that are too dangerous, by limiting our pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge.

Yes, I know, knowledge is good, as is the search for new truths. We have been seeking knowledge since ancient times. Aristotle opened his Metaphysics with the simple statement: "All men by nature desire to know." We have, as a bedrock value in our society, long agreed on the value of open access to information, and recognize the problems that arise with attempts to restrict access to and development of knowledge. In recent times, we have come to revere scientific knowledge.
It has always struck me as odd that those with exceptional scientific ability should be such poor philosophers. This is largely the case for science-fiction writers, despite their great propensity to philosophize. It is certainly the case of this particular wizard (Bill Joy) who thinks he can get away from his dilemmas by stupidly citing Aristotle and exploiting a set idea of ethics. Unabomber at least tried to learn to think his way out - but it basically cost him his life and sanity.

I suppose the sort of intelligence that is measured in IQ points is the one most convenient for scientific exploits. But it obviously has little to do with the kind of intelligence that actually lets you rethink the world. The "elite" of this world, our technology wizards, are dummies - they can't help it - the can't help being simply used for and by science.

Einstein, for all his brilliance, was dumb in that way.





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