Re: Technology penetration

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Nov 20 2000 - 06:58:09 MST

"Sean Kenny" <> writes:

> >
> > Are there any good datasets or books on the subject? I would like to
> > bite into it a bit.
> >
> >
> unfortunately most of the stuff I've read is by social scientists who take a
> very hostile posistion on technologiacal determinism.

I don't see that as a problem. What interests me is the general
behavior of how technologies spread, not the exact whys and wherefores
of why technology A was adopted rather than tech B and if the reverse
could have been true (although that is interesting too).

> I've tried to argue that as we approach an era when we truly will
> have a technology that can determine it's own future surely some
> elements of technological determinism must already have been at work
> in human history.

I would say there is a difference between technological determinism
and the existence of autonomous devices. There is a difference between
technology (the knowledge and practice base) and the agents that use
technology - even if they are a product of it. The determinist
position essentially says technology will develop with no or little
influence from other aspects of society, economics, luck, individual
agents etc. If machines can self-develop, I would say they definitely
should be viewed as individual agents (and quite likely parts of
society, economy and politics, regardless of their formal status as

As an example, Eliezers self-transcending AI is not deterministic in
the technological determinism sense, what it does and what it becomes
is highly uncertain and likely quite sensitive to initial conditions
such as programmed core values. A technological determinist position
would be that once (say) AI has been developed certain other things
will by necessity be developed beyond that, regardless of the
circumstances of how AI came about. I don't buy that position - each
new technology enables many others, but which ones are implemented and
grow large depends on many other factors than just capability.

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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