Why the future doesn't need us.


Posted: 2010-07-24 01:21   |  More posts about computer science computers internet robotics science

I finally managed to get around to reading Bill Joy's article Why the future doesn't need us the other day while waiting to board a plane. Bill Joy is a renowned computer scientist who co-founded Sun Microsystems and authored the popular UNIX text editor vi. The article is concerned with the ever increasing speed of "progress" in fields of new technology (primarily robotics, nanotechnology and genetic engineering) which Joy views with apprehension, arguing that the products of these fields will eventually render mankind obsolete and lead to our self-destruction.

There's no point trying to quote it, so instead you can read the article here, read more about Bill Joy here, or read responses and criticism of the article here.

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Rise of the Robots


Posted: 2010-06-12 02:58   |  More posts about america computers politics robotics science war

A good, short blog post from the wonderful ginandtacos blog on the increasing prevalence of unmanned vehicles in war, ending with a very sobering thought:
Won't it be great when the military can send in the tanks without having to put crews in harm's way? Yes and no. The fewer casualties, the better. But what becomes of our reluctance to send the military galavanting around the sordid parts of the world once American casualties are taken out of the equation? We have almost no restraint as it is. I shudder to think of how easily Presidents and legislators will make the decision to go to war when the attitude of "We can just send robots to do it!" becomes entrenched. We saw what the advancements in design of cruise missiles in the 1980s did to the Executive Branch; if someone's acting up, just lob a dozen Tomahawks at them from a few hundred miles away. It became the easy way to intervene without actually making a commitment or putting Americans at risk. Collateral damage isn't much of a deterrent to our political class. UAVs are another step in that direction, a step toward a future with more remotely operated and even autonomous means of doing the dirty work. It's great that technology allows more American soldiers to come home alive and in one piece, but if we remove the U.S. body count from the decision-making process the only restraints on waging war will be common sense, morality, and logic. Yeah, let's start taking bets on how well that works.

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