Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Singularity (Part 4 of 9): Obligatorily Gregarious Apes vs Too-Smart-Weapons

13. VR space achieves seamlessness with reality. First VR amusement park.24 Slowly people migrate to a VR space existence.25
14. Division, and tension between VR space people and R space people.26
Tom Friedman: Artist's Statement, 2000

24. "The masses have solved the problem of Pleasure, they present the elite elsewhere on the island with the problem of the masses. Between the comparatively salubrious islands of Steeplechase and Luna Park is an ever deteriorating community. 'There is scarcely any variety of human flotsam an jetsam that is not represented in this permanent population... Every defaulting cashier, every eloping couple, every man or woman harboring suicidal intent... comes flocking to it from every part of the island' to be exposed to 'a concentrated sublimation of all the mean petty, degrading swindles which depraved ingenuity has ever devised to prey upon humanity...'" Koolhaas, Delirious New York: 62.

25. "All play moves and has its being within a play-ground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course. Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the 'consecrated spot' cannot be formally distinguished from the playground. the Arena, the card table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc., are all in form and function play-grounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart." Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens; 10.
26. "Homo homini lupus - 'man is wolf to man' - is an ancient Roman proverb popularized by thomas Hobbes. Even though its basic tenet permeates large parts of law, economics, and political science, the proverb contains two major flaws. First it fails to do justice to canids, which are among the most gregarious and cooperative animals on the planet. But even worse, the saying denies the inherently social nature of our own species. Social contract theory, and Western civilization with it, seems saturated with the assumption that we are asocial, even nasty creatures rather than the zoon politikon that Aristotle saw us in. Hobbs explicitly rejected the Aristotlelian view by proposing our ancestors started out autonomous and combative, establishing community life only when the cost of strife became unbearable. According to Hobbes, social life never became naturally to us. He saw it as a step we took reluctantly and "by covenant only, which is artificial" More recently, Rawls proposed a milder version of the same view, adding that humanity's move toward sociality of mutual advantageous cooperation among equals. These Ideas about the origin of well ordered society are popular even though the underlying assumption of a rational decision by inherently asocial creatures is untenable in light of what we know about the evolution of our species. [Thomas] Hobbes and Rawls create the illusion of human society as a voluntary arrangement with self-imposed rules assented to by free and equal agents. Yet, there never was a point at which we become social: descended from highly social ancestors - a long line of monkeys and apes - we have been group-living forever. Free and equal people never existed. Humans started out - if a starting point is discernible at all - an interdependent, bonded, and unequal. We come from a long lineage of hierarchical animals for which life in groups is not an option but a survival strategy. Any zoologist would classify our species as obligatorily gregarious.” Frans de Waal, Primates and Philosophers: 4-5.

"The U.S. military has been an avid user of AI systems.27 Pattern-recognition software systems guide autonomous weapons such as cruise missiles, which fly thousands of miles to find a specific building or even a specific window... The military has developed prototypes of a self-organizing communication networks (called "mesh networks") to automatically configure many thousands of communication nodes when a platoon is dropped into a new location... All of the military services are using robots. The Army utilizes them to search caves (in Afghanistan) and buildings. The navy uses small robotic ships to protect its aircraft carriers... The next step... will be nanotechnology-based weapons, which will make obsolete weapons of larger size. The only way for an enemy to counteract such a massively distributed force will be with its own nanotechnology. In addition, enhancing nanodevices with the ability to self-replicate will extend their capabilities but introduces grave dangers... As military weapons become smaller in size and larger in number, it won't be desirable or feasible to maintain human control over each device. So increasing the level of autonomous control is another important goal. Once machine intelligence catches up with biological intelligence, many more systems will be fully autonomous."28
27. "We have a good brain, with which we can devise strategies; and we have hands, which we can fling or brandish hurtful objects. We are the only creature that can harm at a distance." Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything; 537.
28. "From the moment I became involved in the creation of new technologies, their ethical dimensions have concerned me, but it was only in the autumn of 1998 that I became anxiously aware of how great are the dangers facing us in the 21st century. I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil," Bill Joy, Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us, Wired Magazine.

"Yellow splashes of mutated lichen were blazoned across the rock faces and boulders, between which unpleasantly shaped small things, machine or animal, scurried. The sky flaunted a variety of interesting colors, none of them any shade of blue. The Rannoch battlefield was too polluted to plunder, its scrap to radioactive to recycle. The skirmish fought here had been between a force deploying relatively conventional defenses - supersonic drones, autonomous armored vehicles, Walker tanks, tactical nukes and nanobot sprays - attacking devices that had undergone - or, more likely undertaken - several generations of technological upgrading in their hour-long flight across the Atlantic. All that had prevented it from being completely one sided was that a significant fraction of the attacking devices had become so mentally sophisticated that they had questioned their own purpose. Their existential doubts had been terminated along with their existence within milliseconds, leaving the defending side to add "the too-smart-weapon-problem" to its strategic lexicon. The attacking side's command headquarters had probably forgotten what the whole was about before the swarm of protosentient ordnance they launched passed the Azores.29
29. "Grapes that are “fully ripe”—billions of people who have reached maturity but still reject the grace of God—are now cast “into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” Here we have the origin of the phrase “the grapes of wrath.” In an extraordinarily merciless and brutal act of justice, Christ crushes the so-called grapes of wrath, killing them. Then, Revelation says, blood flows out “of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
With its highly figurative language, Revelation is subject to profoundly differing interpretations. Nevertheless, LaHaye’s followers insist on its literal truth and accuracy, and they have gone to great lengths to calculate exactly what this passage of Revelation means.
As we walk down from the top of the hill of Megiddo, one of them looks out over the Jezreel Valley. “Can you imagine this entire valley filled with blood?” He asks. “That would be a 200-mile-long river of blood, four and a half feet deep. We’ve done the math. That’s the blood of as many as two and a half billion people.” Craig Unger, American Rapture, Vanity Fair Magazine.

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