Re: "Raping the planets" and other PR disasters

Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 21:56:13 MDT

Corey writes:
> Au contraire, I think that it is CRITICAL that views are at least made in
> such a way as to be not a direct affront to common mores and values of the
> period. Remember, most of us live in democracies. Think of the issues in
> Europe against "Frankenstein foods", or here in the US with fetal tissue
> research. The people you are looking down upon, i.e. the people for whom
> you are not considering their values, are the people who are having a strong
> influence on what research can and can't be done.

How can we watch what we say and still have a frank discussion about the
issues which we find interesting and dramatic? Think of Hans Moravec's
scenarios, where super-intelligent AIs take over the solar system and
eventually come back and transform the earth, outside of human control.

Should Moravec not have written up his ideas? He was the foil used by
Bill Joy to describe the risks of AI (or "robotics", as Joy had it).
If avoiding bad perceptions were the controlling factor, Moravec should
have kept silent about his scenarios.

But then we would have lost a real treasure. One of the most provocative,
far-seeing figures would not have been able to stimulate our imaginations
and sense of wonder.

And I don't believe that this can be resolved simply by putting things
differently. That suggestion reminds me of the comedy routine called
"Moose Turd Pie". The punch line is "It's good, though." Trying to dress
up our scenarios and disguise their apocalyptic nature is tantamount to
saying "it's good, though" at the end.

IMO that suggestion would be a cop out. It won't work and it will just
tie people up in knots as they try to think of a way to put a positive
spin on everything they say.

We can either be couragous and follow our thoughts wherever they go,
or we can be politically correct and not say anything that would offend
the Green party. I don't think it will be possible to walk a line which
straddles these positions.


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