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

Sunday, July 26, 2009

White Guys to Infinity and Beyond!

In a post last weekend, I mentioned as something of an aside among many other perplexities that bedevil foolish futurologists -- especially of the so-called "transhumanist movement" variety -- that although "the world is and is likely long to remain one in which privileged white males are a minority… the overwhelmingly overabundant majority of Robot Cultists who imagine themselves to speak for 'the future' are privileged white males."

As I said, it was just an aside. But it is interesting to note that Athena Andreadis (Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School) called attention in her blog to this same curious overabundance of white male futurologists at the Singularity Summit organized by the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, or SIAI, what I have sometimes fondly described as Robot Cult Ground Zero.

Andreadis writes:
I was totally unaware of this event until I visited the IEET site. Given what I know as a scientist about the likelihood of the Singularity, I couldn’t muster much interest. But ever the curious cat, I toddled over and examined the roster of speakers. All are white men. [Emphasis added --d] For several, their sole relevant qualification is that they believe in the imminence of the Singularity.

She writes that she pointed out this curious fact in a comment at the IEET site, whereupon
a SIAI representative informed me that they had looked really hard for qualified women and, since they found none, “would you rather we picked a token female with nothing to say?” Then one of the speakers chimed in, to let me know that “the gender war was a thing of the eighties”. [Obviously so! --d] It got even funnier after that…

Of course all this is anecdotal, even if any reasonably progressive person who has spent any time at all among the transhumanists and singularitarians and techno-immortalists can tell you hair-raising tales of no doubt "non-representative" but still somehow endlessly represented assertions in defense of The Bell Curve, assertions that "taxes are theft," assertions about a planetary "Clash of Civilizations" of the "West" against "Islamofascism," not to mention all manner of patronizing cooing about the need for technocratic elites to make decisions for majorities because "accelerating change" renders so few fit for such decisions, among these including any number of sunny-faced "liberally eugenic" decisions about what kinds of people there should be in the world.

Andreadis is certainly bemused to hear that all of SIAI's diligence (these are sooper-geniuses, don't forget) was unable to unearth any "qualified women" after all since, as an actually technoscientifically literate person she knows as do we all that countless women throng the relevant disciplines presumably under discussion by the singularitarians.

But she reserves her choicest mirth for the men who actually managed to pass muster as "qualified" among the singularitarians after all:
How highly qualified are those so carefully chosen for admission to the boys’ treehouse sanctum? Let me give you a whiff. One of the participants is a dotcom millionaire who has concluded that giving the vote to women doomed capitalist democracy. One of the two speakers that sorta kinda qualify as biologists is the originator of the concept of quantum microtubules (the biomolecular equivalent of Intelligent Design). The other stepped down from on high to deliver unto transhumanists the revelation that mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to cellular damage… a radical notion hidden away by those power-hungry biologists in, oh, every Biochemistry 101 textbook since the seventies..

Welcome to the Robot Cult!

Andreadis concludes: "Of course, this representation is not surprising, since the participation of a bona-fide biologist in such an event would be the equivalent of an astrophysicist attending an astrologers’ convention."

Quite so, quite so.

One wonders how long before Andreadis will sever ties with the stealth-transhumanist outfit IEET altogether, or manages to provoke unpersoning by them at this rate?

1 comment:

jimf said...

> Athena Andreadis (Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the
> University of Massachusetts Medical School). . . writes:
> > Given what I know as a scientist about the likelihood
> > of the Singularity, I couldn’t muster much interest. . .

FSVO (For Some Value Of) "scientists":
Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man
Published: July 25, 2009