I should add, Sarah,
Sun Mar 05, 11:10

that whether we are talking about "advances" in species-ending weaponry, or in AI--as you are aware, the two are clearly closely connected--I fail to understand how focusing on such "progress," which is to say progress that is self-evidently retrograde and regressive, that plays with apocalyptic fire, that willy-nilly opens pandora's box, that contributes to the existential threat posed by climate change, is to do so "too narrowly." These are precisely the sort of "advances" that could spell an END to your so-called progress in the proverbial blink of. (Needless to say, their toothpaste is out of the tube and no putting it back in at this point. Einstein's Doomsday Clock ticks on. 90 seconds to midnight as we speak, as close as it has ever come and rapidly getting closer.)

I would suggest that my focus is not too narrow, it just emphasizes and amplifies the downside, if you will, the price I suspect we eventually will dearly pay, in spades, for our hubristically mistaken notion of what does and does not comprise "progress."

Of course certain areas of the world have benefited from having devised better ways over milleniums to feed, clothe and heal themselves, and yet mass starvation and lack of access to anything like adequate medical care persist as pressing issues across much of the globe. No, we don't live in caves any more, but if we don't take care of business before it is too late, I can conceive of our winding up back in caves once more. If such an observation gives the impression that I am an alarmist, well, we have much to be alarmed about.

Forgive me, but you sound suspiciously like Steven Pinker, who contends, as I suspect you would as well, that based on his interpretation of human history (an interpretation that has been characterized by his countless critics as both his making it up as he goes along and methodologically fatally flawed), "the better angels of our nature" are in the process of overcoming our inner demons and Dark Triad "inclinations to violence," that reason will eventually prevail over emotion and instinct and so inevitably lead to a world of cooperation, altruism, empathy and selflessness. This, in my opinion, is utopianist drivel.

Pinker is not a stupid man any more than you are a stupid woman, and both of you have valid points to make, but when placed in the context of both lethal and less apparently lethal runaway technological innovation, those points pale in both importance and urgency alongside the dismal, rebarbatively corrosive nature of the problems we presently face--that is, when we can bestirred to face them.

  • Bless you, Sarah, butolds, Sun Mar 05 9:46
    both as a student of history and a 71-year-old still possessed of a goodly portion of his waning wits--I see absolutely no reason to believe that the ultimate culmination of our so-called progress--a concept... more
    • I should add, Sarah, — olds, Sun Mar 05 11:10