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

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Write Your Article for the Robot Cult (A Helpful Guide)

Identify an outcome normally attributable to magic (immortality, invisibility, free treasure, secret super-knowledge, love potion, mind-reading, unquestioning slave-minion) that we cannot accomplish but which can be made to seem at least not logically impossible.
Declare that this actually not-possible but apparently not-impossible thing is actually inevitable by saying that "technology" will deliver it. Say, in twenty years (trust me on this, it's always twenty years). Congratulations! That's the hard part done already, your first paragraph is complete.
Now, talk about how awesome magic would be if it were real for the rest of your piece.
four -- optional, advanced
If you want to seem a Very Serious think-tank futurologist, you should pretend at some point that conservatives are "opposed" to this magic not because it's stupid magic and not serious science or science policy at all but because they are too timid and scared of the awesomeness you bravely embrace.
You can now repeat this procedure robotically in article after article until death (and, sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you will die because magic is not real).

1 comment:

jimf said...

> How to Write Your Article for the Robot Cult (A Helpful Guide)

This is, of course, not entirely dissimilar to Bertrand Russell's
"How To Become a Man of Genius" (a piece of wit allegedly inspired
by Russell's relationship with D. H. Lawrence), published
28 December 1932.

"If there are among my readers any young men or women who
aspire to become leaders of thought in their generation, I
hope they will avoid certain errors into which I fell in
youth for want of good advice. When I wished to form an
opinion upon a subject, I used to study it, weigh the
arguments on different sides, and attempt to reach a
balanced conclusion. I have since discovered that this
is not the way to do things. A man of genius knows
it all without the need of study; his opinions are
pontifical and depend for their persuasiveness upon
literary style rather than argument. It is necessary
to be one-sided, since this facilitates the vehemence
that is considered a proof of strength. It is essential
to appeal to prejudices and passions of which men
have begun to feel ashamed and to do this in the name
of some new ineffable ethic. It is well to decry the
slow and pettifogging minds which require evidence
in order to reach conclusions. Above all, whatever is
most ancient should be dished up as the very latest

There is no novelty in this recipe for genius; it
was practised by Carlyle in the time of our grandfathers,
and by Nietzsche in the time of our fathers, and it has
been practised in our own time by D. H. Lawrence. Lawrence
is considered by his disciples to have enunciated all
sorts of new wisdom about the relations of men and women;
in actual fact he has gone back to advocating the domination
of the male which one associates with the cave dwellers.
Woman exists, in his philosophy, only as something soft
and fat to rest the hero when he returns from his labours.
Civilised societies have been learning to see something more
than this in women; Lawrence will have nothing of civilisation.
He scours the world for what is ancient and dark and loves
the traces of Aztec cruelty in Mexico. Young men, who had
been learning to behave, naturally read him with delight and
go round practising cave-man stuff so far as the usages of
polite society will permit.

One of the most important elements of success in becoming
a man of genius is to learn the art of denunciation. You
must always denounce in such a way that your reader thinks
that it is the other fellow who is being denounced and not
himself; in that case he will be impressed by your noble
scorn, whereas if he thinks that it is himself that you
are denouncing, he will consider that you are guilty of
ill-bred peevishness. Carlyle remarked: ``The population
of England is twenty millions, mostly fools.'' Everybody
who read this considered himself one of the exceptions,
and therefore enjoyed the remark. You must not denounce
well-defined classes, such as persons with more than a
certain income, inhabitants of a certain area, or believers
in some definite creed; for if you do this, some readers
will know that your invective is directed against them.
You must denounce persons whose emotions are atrophied,
persons to whom only plodding study can reveal the truth,
for we all know that these are other people, and we
shall therefore view with sympathy your powerful diagnosis
of the evils of the age.

Ignore fact and reason, live entirely in the world of
your own fantastic and myth-producing passions; do this
whole-heartedly and with conviction, and you will become
one of the prophets of your age."