Re: The enemy within

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 17:25:25 MST

"Bryan Moss" <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Other memes or thoughts that I have in the past tried to
> > fight in our community is naive technophilia, us-vs-them-
> > thinking and technological determinism.
> What's wrong with technological determinism?

I used the term to denote the idea that certain technological
developments will happen - they are a historical necessity ("It
railroads when it is railroad time..."). Greg pointed out the link to
marxist history, but the whole concept can be found just about
everywhere in the political spectrum.

The problem with technological determinism is simply that it is wrong
- it is an oversimplified view of history, ignoring the complex
interplay between technology and society, economics, individuals,
serependipity and other influences. Certainly there are feedback loops
that drive certain technologies (think Moore's law and how much people
are expecting it to be true) but technology is not an independent
force from everything else.

Now, if you are a Marxist and technological determinist you might end
up making silly statements that the overthrow of capitalism is
inevitable because the means of production *will* change in a certain
way which *will* have a certain sociological impact. It is simple to
translate that into transhumanist terms: "The exponential increase in
computing power *will* lead to the emergence of AI which then *will*
become superhuman and that in turn *will* lead to the
Singularity". Each "*will*" is really a non sequitor or more or less
poorly supported assumption, ignoring all the rest of the world.

I'm really glad I was forced to take a small course in the history of
technology as an undergraduate. It cured me of my naive technological
determinism by showing how complex the evolution of technology really
is. On the other hand, I was surprised how little the historians cared
by the future history of technology or how to apply what they had
learned in the forward direction. Here is an empty academic ecological
niche for someone brave enough to sieze it...

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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