Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How Many Robot Cultists Does It Take to Freep a Technodevelopmental Policy Poll?

Not a whole hell of a lot, as it happens. This result is funny in so many ways, and not all of them funny ha-ha.

It is perfectly possible to discuss in a serious and legible way the software and network security issues of the proximate to middle-term future as they are roughly anticipated in the criminal, military, and viral security landscape that confronts digital networked social formations today. In my view, IEET encouraged an unserious result from the get-go by framing such issues instead through the uselessly hyperbolizing monster movie iconography of entitative AI so beloved of singularitarians and their technophiliac fellow travelers in the first place.

There's possibly a lesson there for think tanks aspiring to be useful contributors to the stakeholder discourse of democratic technodevelopmental social struggle rather than, you know, shills for kooky marginal robot cults. YMMV.


jfehlinger said...

> . . .the uselessly hyperbolizing monster movie iconography
> of entitative AI. . .

BTW, in case anybody hasn't heard, the movie _Colossus:
The Forbin Project_ (the original is from 1969) is being remade:

However, as a friend commented to me:

"Of course, since this remake is also going to be based
on subsequent novels [_The Fall of Colossus_, _Colossus
and the Crab_], and since we live in an age where "bigger is better"
(not necessarily...) I'm sure the remake will be longer
and noisier, and will pay more attention to the special
effects than to the mature and clever tension and ironies
that made the original a good film."

So it goes.

Michael Anissimov said...

Nothing wrong with looking a bit further ahead, although near to mid-term future issues involving computer networks concern me as well.

If we avoided looking ahead to real AI, should we also avoid looking ahead to nanofactories, for instance, when "nanotechnology" is already all around us today? Why should we look ahead to "cyborgs" when it seems like mobile wearables are the near-to-mid term centerpiece of concern?

The issue is not so much entitative AI, as smarter-than-human AI in general. Even if it takes 100 years to accomplish, the associated challenges are worth looking at, in the context of other possible future milestones.

Michael Anissimov said...

PS. Note that James F. is an even bigger SIAI advocate than I am, if you go by the numbers. He's donated over $5,000 to SIAI. See here:

jfehlinger said...

> Note that James F. is an even bigger SIAI advocate
> than I am, if you go by the numbers. He's donated over
> $5,000 to SIAI.

Since you brung it up (as John Travolta reminds the paint
store customer in _Saturday Night Fever_ following his
outraged question "You wanna know what color my wife's
ass is?"): $10,000, in fact, all told, between April 2001 and
February 2003. I don't ever recall asking to be publicly
listed, but what the hey.

Yes, perhaps that makes me an even bigger avocado than you are.

Dale Carrico said...

I agree that it is good to look ahead. I disagree that it is good to confuse hyperbole with priority.

As for contributors to SIAI, everybody makes mistakes.

Be assured, Michael, if/when you ever come to disdain your current enthusiasm for superlative tech discourses like singularitarianism and technological immortalism, I will not be the one to hold your youthful indiscetions against you.

Michael Anissimov said...

My day to day routine actually has very little to do with so-called superlative tech discourses. For instance, I helped establish the A-Prize concerning the development of synthetic life, I regularly participate on the CRN task force, began blogging for the mainstream nanotech outfit NanotechBuzz, write articles for the Q&A site, and correspond with a number of students and academics on down-to-earth topics in science and technology. I am socially adept enough that I can enter a room and talk like a normal smart guy, with no one being the wiser that I want to live for millions of years. The only reason you even know about my "superlative self" is because you've criticized transhumanism enough that I've felt compelled to respond.

For the public at large, the "superlative discourse" part just gets a little more attention because it's more controversial, and more unique.

I think a major part of why you consider advanced technologies like molecular nanotechnology to be hyperbole is because you come from a Humanities background, and haven't looked at the scientific or technological arguments in their favor. A factory that can output its own mass in atomically specified product in a few hours is a really big deal. A factory like that could duplicate itself very quickly, and impact the world in a huge way. Who needs singularitarianism? MNT is amazing enough.

The downside is that you're probably so busy that you don't have the time to read such books.

Dale Carrico said...

As Oscar Wilde would say, "I'm not young enough to know everything."

n8o said...

Back in 2003, I seem to recall reading Michael claiming that making even a $20 donation to SIAI could have no greater positive impact on the future of Humanity.

So I did.

No one got the joke.

I've sent the same amounts to the Universal Life Church (for the generic minister cert they offer) and the Church of the SubGenius.

Dale Carrico said...

No one got the joke.

You'll be pleased to know I just chuckled in a subdued, somewhat mordant fashion.

jfehlinger said...

Come to think, I also made an additional $10 contribution
to SIAI in October, 2004. They had posted a desperate
appeal on the SL4 list for last-minute donations to
meet the target to engage a matching grant. I
suppose that was just a bit mean of me.

Michael Anissimov said...

>As Oscar Wilde would say, "I'm not >young enough to know everything."

No, just that you get bored by technical nerdy works, and interested by more Humanities-oriented works. I know many people like this, you're just another one.

Even still, I'm surprised that you think self-replicating factories are impossible, or at least, presumably hundreds of years in the future.

By the way, that ageist prejudiced response of yours is just as despicable as the social prejudice you (justifiably) rail against.

Dale Carrico said...

Find the place where I claim "self-replicating factories are impossible, or... hundreds of years in the future." You can't, because I don't. You must assume that these views are entailed by the fact that I haven't succumbed to your own brand of techno-transcendentalizing hype-nosis. You transhumanists really are a trip. There's a whole lot of reality here between your facile technophilia and the know-nothing technophobia you ascribe to me. For a bright guy you really do sometimes act awfully dim.

jfehlinger said...

> For a bright guy you really do sometimes act awfully dim.

Awfully **selectively** dim, too, as the "rationality"-gurus
of Overcoming Bias might point out -- though not to
wee Michael, of course.

> You transhumanists really are a trip.

The wicked son asks “What mean you by this service?"
By the word "you," it is clear he doth not include himself,
and thus hath withdrawn himself from the community.