Fat Steve's Blatherings

Sunday, June 05, 2005


      "When a man doesn't believe in Something, he won't believe in Nothing, but in Anything." (Attributed to G. K. Chesterton, but no definite source).

      Glenn Reynolds is pushing the 'Genetic Engineering Will Turn Us Into Immortal Superbeings' line again, under the guise of blurbing a book by Joel Garreau, Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What it Means to be Human.  Of course, there are a few problems with the superbeings scenario, such as the lack of evidence, but let's not let that stop us.

      Reynold's says with approval:
The Speculist has a review, and says that it's the best book since Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines.

      As it happens, I've read Kurzweil's book, as well as his earlier, The Age of Intelligent Machines.  They consist of acts of faith that computers are intelligent, even though there's no evidence of that.

      The idea that bio-technology will make us like gods, knowing all things, has exactly the same body of evidence behind it.

      Just recently, I read an excellent book by Robert Pool, Beyond Engineering: How Society Shapes Technology, and today I started one titled Red Atom: Russia's Nuclear Power Program from Stalin to Today.  They're eerily similar to the current bio-tech and intelligent computer hype: 'Atomic Power will give us an abundant future of energy too cheap to meter, and we know this is true because . . . well, because we want it to be true.'  The current mirror image of nuclear power, which depicts nuclear power plants as malign devils out to get us, is just the same thing with opposite polarity.  There's also an opposite polarity version of bio-tech.  Take Jeremy Rifkin -- PLEASE!  There used to be an opposite polarity version of computers, till they became so cheap that people could own them, and see for themselves how they work.  What all these views have in common is that they're like Rohrschach blot tests.  What's really there is a mess, and what you 'see' is a projection of you.

    You would have to be God Almighty to know what the future will bring.  But frank admissions of ignorance are too hard for most people.  Instead, we'll get nonsense.  Too bad.



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