Thursday, January 31, 2008

Disturbing Future

While not overly difficult to understand this passage after it has been read a couple times, it is hard in the aspect of how it makes you think. It raises a lot of questions in your mind that you may not have thought about before. The passage comes at a point in the essay after many controversial questions have already been raised. Most people have a preconceived notion of robots being these miraculous new creations that will make our lives so much easier. But this essay discusses some of the negative aspects of robots and their interaction and potential harm against humans.

Joy’s interesting passage:

“Perhaps it is always hard to see the bigger impact while you are in the vortex of change. Failing to understand the consequences of our inventions while we are in the rapture of discovery and innovation seems to be common fault of scientists and technologists; we have long been driven by the overarching desire to know that is the nature of science’s quest, not stopping to notice that the progress to newer and more powerful technologies can take on a life of its own.”

This passage can almost stand alone as a statement toward many things that happen in life. It discusses how if things happen bit by bit we don’t always notice the change and get caught up in other things and in the end there has been a huge change. If we are not paying attention things will pass us by and we will not notice that drastic changes have changed the way we think and act.

Now relating this directly to the transformation of technology and the innovations that it produces it becomes really obvious how little changes can be overlooked. Little innovations become commonplace in our everyday life and we just adopt them without thinking about what change it leads to. Scientists are always trying to hedge out each other and be ahead of the market. This competition to get to the far reaches of nature’s ability has stimulated a couple controversial innovations that have already come into contention and I am sure there are more to come. Innovations such as stem cell research, human cloning, and biological warfare are some of the controversial innovations that have raised moral issues. Even though we may have the technology and ability to create something like a nuclear bomb, we may not be ready or be willing to face the consequences of having nuclear bombs everywhere. We have already experienced some of the repercussions of displaying our technology and now we are trying to reverse the process and take these weapons away from nations.

By fooling around with technology and creating robots that are increasingly taking over typical human activities we are messing with the cohabitation of robots and humans. “Yet, with each of these technologies, a sequence of small, individually sensible advances leads to an accumulation of great power and, concomitantly, great danger.” This danger could come from creating robots that are able to think for themselves. This could lead to machines that decide to do devastating activities. If robots are able to reproduce then this may lead to limitless harm for the world. “If machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave.” Joy also comments on how he becomes increasingly disturbed about how all of his contributions to the technological world could be detrimental to his own human race. “I may be working to create tools which will enable the construction of the technology that may replace our species.”

To sum up Joy’s article, the moral of the story is that we should not sit back and let the world pass us by. We need to question why things are being done. We need to be cautious of what we are creating because it may come back to haunt us in the future.


Why the future doesn’t need us

Bill Joy

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