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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Zombie Futurists Want Brains!

Welcome, futurological newcomers to this blog! I have noticed that somebody has glommed onto a little post of mine via Reddit -- Futurologists Are Mortal But Faith-Based Futurology Is A Zombie That Cannot Be Killed -- and it has attracted some comment there. What fun!

"smartalbert" declares: "Carrico got some ok points but it seems he is overdoing it. he gets almost hysterical and it makes his criticism sloppy."

I propose that if "smartalbert" re-imagines the tone of the piece as one of withering amusement rather than hysteria he might find the gist somewhat clarified.

"BaronVonDonut" announces "Wow, it took him 10 paragraphs to say: 'I disagree. My friends are smart, and they too disagree.'"

I submit that in between donuts the Baron might try a closer reading than one that discerns among dozens of observations, assertions, and conclusions only a claim about "my smart friends" which happens not to appear anywhere in the piece at hand.

"Toktyn" makes what seems to me the most bewildering claim, namely: "The way he argues against futurist ideas and projections reminds me of a Christian arguing against evolution. The writing is overly biased and so harshly written as to detract from its credibility, he doesn't support his claims well, and many of the claims are just plain wrong."

Notice that in this scenario it is the one who is dismissively skeptical about Robot Cultists promising techno-immortalism via Robot Bodies and Genetic Sooper Medicine and Mind-Uploading into Cyber-Heaven who is being compared to a faith-based Christian, and further that the skeptic is assigned residence in the position of one who argues against science (here, "evolution") not because I am defying scientific consensus but precisely because I am in accord with it. In case you're wondering I, uh, you know, also affirm evolutionary biology, sex education, Keynesian macroeconomics as revised by Hicks, the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, and that there is no such thing as a safe cigarette.

I will add that there is a heavy dose of sarcastic humor in the piece in question, well-deserved and hard won in my opinion after decades spent exposing, critiquing, and ridiculing the pseudo-science and deranging hyperbole of pop tech and faith-based futurology (for more of which begin here). I offer up these critiques from a techno-scientificially literate secular progressive vantage informed by environmental justice critique and science and technology studies (subjects which I teach at the university level should such things happen to matter to you). I have written plenty that is not humorous and which might therefore evade the worries of the humorless about my "tone" and "bias" directed against techno-immortalists pretending to offer up serious policy prescriptions and to report on scientific developments by saying how cool it would be if magic were real and how entrepreneurial capitalism is going to deliver everybody techno-transcendence "in twenty years."

1 comment:

jimf said...

> "Toktyn" makes what seems to me the most bewildering claim,
> namely: "The way he argues against futurist ideas and projections
> reminds me of a Christian arguing against evolution. . ."

Yes, and anybody who dares to point out that Scientology is a
money-making scam sucking money out of celebrities by promising
them superpowers reminds Tom Cruise of anti-Semites.

People do not like having their binky-bubbles burst.