Saturday 15 August 2015

rapture-ready or recursive self-improvement

In the labour market, the concerns about mass redundancy due to advances in robotics is undeniable and computing has gotten quite good at putting on at least a friendly persona, a clever mask for its subroutines that make it possible for the user (client) to engage with it.  Maybe humanity’s enduring and abiding mystery is a bit of a conceit itself, and surely the spark of conscious, self-awareness is dulled some if it only amounts to a convincing though banal chat with an automated customer service telephone tree, judged effective if the result is customer satisfaction.

The Singularity does not necessarily follow—and if it did, artificial intelligence won’t partake of the same negative and positive aspects of human character—on it’s own accord, at least, and needing human agency—like greed, ambition, kindness or curiosity that we would like to ascribe to it. Such an incubation period, even if at infinite speeds, does not given guarantee a survival instinct or evolutionary drive—gestating in an environment where it can only know, if know at all, those traits as abstractly material. There may only come a point when the robotics industry has taken all the jobs, writes sitcoms and the news, are our interstellar ambassadors, controls the economy and the defense apparatus—but by Jove, they’ll still be us curmudgeonly humans, managed but still with the advantage of being conscious, whatever benefit that affords. Maybe the Singularity is like the way that some fundamentalist Christian sects interpret the Rapture, the End of Days—for those not left behind (that is, made unemployable by the robot masters) they’ll be the chance for some sort of ersatz biological or uploaded immortality. What do you think? Are we just forever refashioning our hopes and fears?