A thing I wrote somewhere else...

As I've mentioned before I'm part of a reading group rooted in my church (though it's not all Christians), reading/thinking/talking about science and technology from a faith perspective. The last book we read was Asimov's I, Robot (my first Asimov), and I finally got around to parsing my thoughts on it for the blog we have.

The other thing that struck me was the way Asimov's stories depict the rise of AI – from individuals to a hive mind. It seems to me, we're actually going the other way. We've not achieved the humanoid robot with some AI, but in networked computers we are creating or have created a hive.

In a way, you could argue that the global economy is such a hive mind, controlling humanity: it must keep working, or we'll all find ourselves flung back into the dark ages – or, at least, that is what our politicians and financiers appear to be telling us as they bid to patch up the existing system, post-crash. And yet, while it purports to be a system that works for the good of man, because economic growth = progress = good, I'm not sold. In many ways, I think I prefer Asimov's rise of the machines in The Evitable Conflict, which feels to me that it has, in it's consciousness and in the laws of robotics, a stronger grasp of the idea of the Common Good of humanity than the neoliberal capitalist present, as they 'glitch' in order to move individuals up and down and around the system to stop them damaging humanity, even at the expense of maximum productivity, efficiency and profit.

But do we need machines and AIs to help us do this? Asimov does seems to illustrate how much humanity needs some sense of a higher power or rules to help keep them in check.

You can read the rest over on the St Mark's Does Science blog.


some stories from yesterday

'That woman is a WOMAN.' And in Church.