Yuli Ban: I feel it should be mentioned that technism offends liberal sensibilities often, so much that I fell technism and liberalism cannot coexist.
· All humans are not created equal. And even if we were, we'll make humans who are unequal sooner or later.
Caltrek’s response: The liberal philosophy does not hold that all are of equal intelligence or ability. Only, that all are of equal worth, that all should be given an equal opportunity to demonstrate their intelligence without prior prejudice or handicap imposed by such prejudice. So you are right that there is a conflict between liberalism and technism as you describe it.
Yuli Ban: · On that note, a human cannot compete with a sufficiently advanced machine. Going out of our way to try is perfectly fine, but there's no reason why we should abandon development just to make sure some people are happy having jobs.
Caltrek’s response: I agree that there needs to be a way to reconcile “development” with the unemployment that often results. It strikes me as a bit dangerous to conclude that doing things that are make people happy is somehow wrong or dangerous in itself. I do agree that such considerations need to be balanced against the overall good of society.
· Some opinions are closer to the truth than others. Sufficiently damaging opinions should not be tolerated.
· Tolerance is only good so far as it promotes what is righteous and aids civilization. I cannot tolerate antihumanism. Anyone who willingly puts our success and survival at risk— whether it be radical "protect every tree" ecosocialism or radical "drill baby drill" capitalism— should not be allowed to act or spread their degenerate ideologies. We know what works, and there's no reason to be blinded by ideology in the face of reason. Democracy is good, but sapiocracy is how we should go about democracy. Those less educated and less intelligent cannot be trusted with guiding civilization
Caltrek’s response: The problem here is who, or what, is to determine what opinions are “sufficiently damaging.” Who, or what, is to determine what constitutes “degenerate ideologies” or “’protect every tree’ ecosocialism” or “radical ‘drill baby drill’ capitalism” or “what works”? More on that in a bit.
Yuli Ban: · There are many things we cannot afford tolerate, and our culture of '100% tolerance' has been wholly detrimental to our success as a civilization.
Caltrek’s response: On the contrary, I believe that there has been a bit of a correlation between high tolerance and high “success as a civilization.” I know the latest round of election results can be offered as evidence to the contrary. Hopefully, my comments below will be seen as furthering discussing that objection..
Yuli Ban: · At some point, we'll create beings so intellectually capable (be they synths or posthumans) that there'll be no choice but to relinquish choice to them. You wouldn't take orders from a chimpanzee, would you? Why should they listen to you?
Caltrek's response: Here we come to the crux of the matter. I think it is much too simplistic to argue that some forms of AI will be so advanced that “there’ll be no choice but to relinquish choice to them.”
1) Like it or not, we always have a choice as to whom “we relinquish choice.” At least absent some form of near total mind control. If such a near total mind control does develop, then this debate will become merely academic.
2) This seems to imply that all forms of advance AI will be of one mind. I think the more likely scenario is that different AIs will come to different conclusions as to policy choices. Like humans, they will operate from different sets of values and work toward different ends within their computer brains. Some mechanism will be needed to sort this out. It would seem to me that humans ought to be are part of that mechanism, and that democracy will remain the best of available mechanisms in that regard.
3) I think part of the problem here is looking at the very last set of election results at the exclusion of other things. Here we see an utterly horrible outcome. I can understand that there is a desire to posit the need for some alternative system to avoid such future outcomes. The temptation for an elitist solution is thus very great. Yet, it is elitism itself which is a significant element at the core of the problem.
Let me expand on that last point. Under a capitalist society, the very dangerous notion has arisen that the wealthy have become wealthy due to superior talent and intellect. There may be some truth to that notion, but there is also much that is false. Yet, at least here in the United States, many have been so mystified by that notion that they ended up concluding that what at least appears to be a highly successful businessman must have some insight into our society’s problems. Therefore, such persons should be entrusted with positions of leadership.
This elitism has become oriented toward success under the capitalistic system as the most important criteria of intelligence and ability. Success in the scientific sphere of endeavors has been downgraded. Conclusions regarding important problems, such as global warming, have been biased toward the moneyed business elite and against the scientific consensus on this matter. So the problem is not that we don’t trust an elite, but what criteria we use to designate what elite we should trust.
Shifting our allegiance to trust in the superior intellect of AI simply risks reproducing the problem. Who is likely to have (at least initial) ownership of that AI?
Aside from government, it will be the moneyed class. It is they that will filter and interpret the results of any analysis derived from AI. It is they that will be in the strongest position to influence the discussion as to what constitutes “degenerate ideologies.” It is they that will ignore AI warnings and recommendations regarding detrimental environmental policies while carefully consulting with AI regarding the best methods of exerting control over the masses. If they voluntarily relinquish control completely to AI, it will only be because they will have concluded AI has thoroughly incorporated within its goal structure a preference for protecting their privileged position.
Democracy is good over the long term because the masses continue to have some control. An appeal to the masses is always a possibility so long as democratic processes remain intact. The best and most promising movements of our time come from those determined to organize public opinion in a way that will correct the mistaken policies we are about to pursue. Vesting final authority in such masses is our best hope. The problem is in finding how best to educate the masses.
We can continue to rely on the moneyed elite and follow their endorsement of the Donald Trumps of the world, or we can organize from the ground roots up to present an alternative vision that will ultimately be more appealing to the masses. That may involve tolerating within our midst “protect every tree” ecosocialists because such ecosocialists are far less dangerous than the global warming denialists that are currently in the ascendancy. While I tend to quibble with some of the conclusions of what I call deep ecologists, I think we stand to lose far more than we gain in throwing them or their ideas into the dustbin of history.
We need to find common ground to unite the left, not develop ideological systems of belief that potentially serve only to create further schisms on the left. Or worse yet, reinforce the strength of the right. We don’t need to articulate visions that merely confirm the suspicion that those on the left are elitists that look down their noses at the great unwashed. You, yourself, pointed out that a problem in this last election was Hillary’s dismissive attitude toward the working class in states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. The left needs to develop a clearly articulated program that deals with the concerns of those subgroups within our society. In shifting away from fossil fuels, we need to find alternative occupations for those workers in the fossil fuel industry that are satisfying for those workers and productive for the greater good. Some of those alternatives may very well involve “save every tree” type programs of restoration in places like West Virginia.
Yes, the left needs to incorporate within its ranks the scientific community and to utilize the benefits of AI in developing programs for the future. That should be a matter of voluntary partnerships and support, not a matter of capitulation that derives from elitist snobbery or a feeling of inferior unworthiness. Maybe I am missing something, but the technism you describe seems to all too easily fit within those last categories. I fear that as an ideology it has the potential to further splinter an weaken the left in a way that is simply not necessary. In "the left" I mean to include those who recognize the dangers of global warming and other forms of pollution as well as other such dangers of undesirable byproducts of inappropriate technologies.