GEEKS: Linus Torvalds on Bill Joy

From: Christian Weisgerber (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 10:41:17 MDT

I'm currently reading Linus Torvalds' autobiography _Just for Fun_,
where he offers this comment on the Bill Joy debate:

    [...] I distinctly remember thinking [Bill Joy] was probably
    the nicest and most interesting of high-profile people I had
    met in Silicon Valley.

    Flash forward three years. I pick up _Wired_ magazine only to
    encounter his horribly negative article about technology entitled
    "The Future Doesn't Need Us." I was kind of disappointed.
    Obviously, the future doesn't need us. But he didn't have to
    be so negative about it.

    I don't want to tear apart his article line by line, but I have
    a general belief that the saddest thing that could ever happen
    to humanity would be that we would just go on and on, as opposed
    to evolving. Bill seemed to feel that advances like genetic
    modification make us lose our humanity. Everybody always thinks
    that something different is inhuman because right now we _are_
    human. But as we continue to evolve with whatever happens, in
    10,000 years we will not be human according to today's standards.
    We will just be a different form of human.

    In Bill's article, he seemed afraid of that. My feeling is
    that it's unnatural--and fruitless--to try and curb evolution.
    Instead of trying to find two different kinds of dog to produce
    the desired offspring, obviously we will resort to genetics;
    it seems inevitable that this will happen for people, too. In
    my opinion, changing the human race through genetics is preferable
    to leaving the status quo. I think that, in the bigger picture,
    it would be a hell of a lot more interesting to ensure the
    continued evolution of not just humans but of society, in
    whatever direction it goes. You can't stop technology, and you
    can't stop the advances we make in our knowledge of how our
    universe works and how humans are designed. It's all moving
    so fast that some people, like Bill Joy, find it scary. But I
    see it as part of our natural evolution.

Christian "naddy" Weisgerber                

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