Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who-whom?   posted by Razib @ 10/29/2008 10:45:00 PM

I'll yank this up from the comments:
...Would it really be worse to have a future civilization full of ultra-intelligent robotic minds pushing science forward tirelessly than the Jerry Springer-esque Idiocracy that we are careening towards?

So did anyone root for the AIs in The Galactic Center Saga? In the Dune universe there was an explicit emphasis on keeping tech relatively low because of the fear of Thinking Machines (though the post-Frank Herbert sequels did have a "happy ending" in the man vs. machine conflict). In the Foundation universe (specifically the sequels not written by Asimov) one element of the back story which emerged was that benevolent robots actually created diseases which made the average human less intelligent than they would have otherwise been because that was the only way that social equilibrium could be maintained (Hari Seldon was brilliant in part because he was never infected).

This is the sort of post which brings out a lot of opinions because it is explicitly designed to smoke out norms and values. Frankly, I think most of the human race would prefer the Idiocracy. The minority who would be more ambivalent, or even prefer the idea of intelligence which is not tied to our particular human substrate, are likely to be non-modal in their psychology. Additionally, the non-modals are more likely be in research positions where they could forward the project of post-human sentience. To be explicit, I wonder if post-human sentience would simply be the apotheosis of the Nerd. Movies like Twelve Monkeys play on the idea of a Doomsday Cult which releases a deadly pathogen which kills most humans, but what about the possibility of a group of social outcasts intent on giving rise to a species which better encapsulates the set of values which reflect the priorities of nerds?