Tuesday, 12 August 2014

slack and dune or totem and taboo

Most know the Dune franchise of Frank Herbert and son popularly from the 1984 cinematic adaptation (by David Lynch no less) and its political struggle to control the production of the spice melange by a cast of esoteric and archetypal characters. As memorable and hopefully piquing as this portrayal is, the battle for control of Arrakis—complete with intrigues that hint at the importance of the commodity and the safe-keeping of the controlling-cartel—the spectacle, I think, pushed the back-story further into the background and left the author's vision and prescience just out of reach. With fears of a robot-holocaust ravaging humanity popping up in the news lately—and from all different directions, it might be worth taking a look back at the saga that was penned in 1965 but tossed into the a far distant dystopia ten-thousand years from now.
Thinking-machines eventually came to see no value in human life, as if our creations once achieving genuine independence and sentience would revere us as gods—humans do not even do a good job at that, despite superstition and other frailties that cannot be programmed—and proceed to exterminate those that they cannot enslave, humans not built of valuable rare-earth metals.  The revolt ended with the enduring dictum “Thou shall not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind,” with many fascinating institutions developed over the eons to compensate for the loss of convenience that the prohibition and taboo brought about. Even if not so heavy-handed as the active destruction of humanity and more the sorrowful decline of creativity, faith and manners, I expect matters to acceleration much more quickly than anyone is prepared for—and certainly before mankind is about to explore the stars. What do you think? I am not sure why there is this sudden, apparent resurgence over the dangers of a robot take-over. Maybe it is due to insecurity over jobs or the imitation of thought that data-mining can execute. No matter how near or far Singularity is, such warnings go unheeded at our peril.