Transforming Ourselves

Lyle Burkhead (
Sun, 17 Nov 1996 04:32:31 -0500 (EST)

David Musick writes,

> I have often considered the possibility that our creations will
> outsmart humanity, becoming much more powerful and intelligent
> than humans and being out of the control of humans.
> This seems like the logical result of creating intelligent machines
> which are used to manufacture all sorts of things, including other,
> more intelligent machines and robots.

Ok. Try generalizing the idea of machines. They don't have to be
made of metal or even silicon. Governments are human creations.
Corporations are human creations -- "machines" or "robots" if you will,
not always controllable by us, which are used to manufacture all sorts
of things, including other, more intelligent machines and robots.

David segues into,

> So, what can we do to prevent ourselves from being destroyed?

Wait a minute -- destroyed? Just because an entity is more powerful
and intelligent than humans doesn't mean it's going to set out to destroy
us. Sun Microsystems is way more intelligent and powerful than I am,
but I don't consider it a threat to my existence.

David continues,

> The only real solution I see is self-augmentation/transformation
> and intense cyborganization. We must improve ourselves dramatically
> by integrating powerful machines in our bodies and minds
> in order to survive. We must... We must... We must... <snip>
> To survive, we must become more than we are now. Much more.

To survive? Why? As we build more and more intelligent machines,
life becomes less of a struggle for most people.

> It's survival of the fittest. It always has been, and it always will be.
> The universe is a huge tournament. Those who don't qualify for the
> later rounds don't live to participate in the later rounds. To remain
> in the game for long, one must be constantly training oneself,
> transforming oneself, making oneself better.

Apparently you expect some kind of Paget scenario, in which our
robot-creations declare war on us. If events do develop along those
lines, which is possible but unlikely, transforming ourselves will be
no guarantee of survival. Survival will be problematic for everyone,
whether they are engaged in self-transformation or not.

If survival is really an issue, the first thing to understand is that
you can't survive by yourself. You have to be part of an army (yet
another kind of "robot" or "machine").

> There is much we can do *right now* to begin transforming
> ourselves. The first step is developing a strong mental discipline.
> We can each find ways to improve our minds, to make them faster,
> more intelligent, more creative. We can improve our learning skills
> by engaging ourselves in many new activities, continually practicing
> learning new things and learning how to learn even faster... etc.

Well, yes, I'm doing that, but not because I think such activities
are necessary to survive. I would do it anyway, even if I didn't feel
threatened at all. Wouldn't you?