Thursday, April 17, 2008

Food, or the lack thereof

This is a map of the countries in which there have been food riots in the last couple weeks

There is and article about how this is likely to spread further because of the return of wheat leaf rust.

This is not pretty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Science and Possibilities

I mentioned in the last post that I thought there were problems with science. The major problem with science is that it is funded and directed in a way that echoes the broader inequities of society. A prime example of this is the focus there is at the moment on producing a self navigating and driving car. I think the case can be made that we need to get rid of the personal auto, remove it from the way we organize society. Given that it is a complete waste of time for us to spend money figuring out how to make a car run without a driver. Of course, there is also the fact that we already know how to have a car, or transport of some sort, run without being immediately directed by humans, put it on rails. We do this all the time, mass transit works.

That won't help the military, which is the main organization behind automating cars. The idea, supposedly, is that it will save lives by not putting humans in harms way. What they really mean by this is that it will save the lives of the military that has this technology, and, probably, kill more of the people in countries whose military don't have this technology. Sure, it is likely that advances in this field will help other areas of AI research, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But, I'll be damned sure that I don't want the military to develop the first strong AI, or really even the government. I can't think of a single government I would trust with the thing.

It's the same thing with facial recognition. It could, in theory at least, help with the development of strong AI, but doesn't the path that we take to get to the post-human future as important as the place we end up? I don't want to get to a post-human future just to have everything and everyone monitored all the time. To have that be the expectation. That sounds fully craptastic.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Of recent I've become interested in transhumanism, the idea that humans will one day transition, through the use of technology. Many of them are technophiles in an extreme sense, but not all. I am not such a technophile, but neither do I wholly reject the possibilities provided by technology. I think that a transhmanist position is the only tenable position for views on technology, but I think it doubly important that we recognize the limitations and flaws our current technological program has.

As I have noted before, I do not see technology as an amoral force. I think that it is entirely possible to have immoral technologies, most weapons would fall in this category. I think that the majority of technologies that we do have are not necessarily moral, even those that seems to be on a cursory examination, such as medicines. I think it plausible to take this view on the grounds that many technologies are not liberatory, and by their nature tie people to the structure that creates them. Drugs used to treat diseases as opposed to cure them could be put in this category, not all them then necessarily, but at least some especially in the case of those that treat non-life threatening diseases.

There is a post over at Transhumanist Goodness on Moral Realism, Transhuman Goodness: Transhumanism and the need for realist ethics, that I generally disagree with. I reject the existence of objective moral facts altogether, and while I do accept that we might need to argue within a framework of moral realism to convince people of the Transhumanist project, we can't actually accept it as a moral framework. If the goal of the transhumanist project is to move past human capabilities then it seems that we must make a radical reevaluation of not only our physical and mental abilities, but also of our moral abilities. In fact, I would argue that we have already reached a point where we can have a true post-human, in theory if not in fact, based not on physical or mental changes but on philosophical and moral changes. I think that we can say that this is possible, though it is highly unlikely that there actually is a post-human existent.

I say it is possible because there exist possible environments, physical locations, for us to reside in where it would be possible to develop a post-human moral and philosophical outlook. This is not something that we can simply do, meaning I can't simply go somewhere and become post-human. In fact, anyone able to read and understand this is not able to undertake this task. But it is entirely possible that one could raise a child in such a way as to instill an understanding of the world that is based not on human understanding, but on a post-human philosophical and moral outlook.

There is a lot to unpack here and I'll do my best to do that in future posts, but this is a quick outline.