"DevNull" is perplexed:
I wonder what the deep underlying reason is for some people to deny the obviously plausible... as what Dale is doing here. It really makes no sense when you look at it from an engineering point of view. If every engineer and scientist on the planet adopted Dale’s denialist-defeatist views, we’d see progress grinding to a halt. We need to be thinking “yes, it’s going to happen, and if not, it’s not because we didn’t try!”... It either happens or it doesn’t but the only thing we can do is try or waste our life repeating, no it won’t no it won’t.
The denialist-defeatism of Dale is just self-fulfilling prophesying -- if only the unreasonable engineers and scientists would listen to him. See, nothing happened, because nothing was attempted! Let’s try to achieve the unreasonable until the trying becomes unreasonable. We’re nowhere close to there yet.
First, I'll just set aside the preposterous claim that superlative outcomes like superintelligence, superlongevity, and superabundance seem "obviously plausible" outside of the highly marginal Robot Cult clubhouse in which singularitarians are spending too much of their time to the exclusion of contact with the world.
It seems to me our Singularitarian friend is confusing what I am calling errors that render us insensitive to realities that matter in the present, with what they imagine to be predictions about "the future" that differ from theirs.
But this isn't about my decadent denialism against the Robot Cultist's rugged can-do go-getterism -- it's about awareness and understanding of material differences that make a difference to human flourishing.
This is not a matter of "let's try something and see what happens" as against an advocacy of stasis -- it's a matter of pointing out that to imagine and find desirable the "it" the Robot Cultists want to "try" is already to re-imagine humanity in ways that risk insensitivity to and obliteration of the substance of worthy, cherished lifeways and values in the world.
Sometimes, trying one thing happens at the expense of trying other things, like living in a human freedom the very substance of which is the contingent frustrating promising encounter, collaboration, and contestation of an ineradicable diversity of equitable peers who share the world.
The singularitarian aspiration to superintelligence involves a prior reduction of intelligence to an abstract calculating instrumentality that actually functions first of all to radically impoverish our grasp of the substance of freedom as it is lived, whereupon it then pines for an amplification of that freedom-drained instrumentality into what it mistakes as superlative emancipation.
Even superlatively instrumentally powerful, consummately calculating, supremely invulnerable robots on the Robot Cultist's terms would be bereft of and unfit for the freedoms already available to us ignorant error-prone passionate vulnerable hopeful sociable meaning-hungry peers in our frustrating and enabling diversity of positions, perspectives, cares, aspirations.
This isn't a denigration of creativity, or passion, or imagination, or perversion, but a registration of the conditions under which those terms actually arise and have their salience in the actual world. The Robot Cultists who decry my failures of nerve and imagination, of all people, sometimes seem to me among the most relentlessly insistently defiantly unimaginative folks I have ever encountered in my life!
And, finally, I'll say it again and again and again: There is no such thing as "the future." There is futurity as a measure of openness in the present and tomorrow, too, once it's present. I care about open futurity as I care about the human freedom it marks. But I don't care about that funhouse mirror of present dreams and nightmares endlessly amplified and prolonged, the reassuring closure of wish-fulfillment fantasy the futurological salesmen sell in the name of "the future."