Friday, April 25, 2008

Buzzfuse has taken over my blogs

Argh! Since I installed the Buzzfuse widget, it has begun a very thorough process of posting everything I have ever written. I some ways this is quite amusing. But on the other hand, it's posting all sorts of crap from the past 3 years. I think you can safely ignore most of it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pope: Rock star or Bin Laden of the West?

I’ve been watching with some amusement the news coverage of the Pope’s visit to America. It seems pretty transparent to me that “W” is leveraging His Holiness as a moral rallying point not only for Catholics, but for everyone else who doesn’t stand behind Bin Laden.

So now we two opposing (and some would say imposing) figureheads, each on opposite sides of a quite arbitrary paradigmatic divide, vying for the hearts and minds of the global massive.

Georgie-boy gets the rub-off of the supposed authority of his god (as represented by the Holy C), while the Vatican gets to exercise the kind of political influence possibly not seen since the Dark Ages.

Think about it; although there’s no danger of anyone being excommunicated, we’re seeing all the signs of an over-powerful church. Relics are on sale in the form of T-shirts, cups, caps and other merchandise; there’s even debate at ground level as to what actually constitutes valid mementos. One’s place in the bosom of the kerk, as it were, is no longer a given – you need tickets. The Pope himself is feted and fawned over by politicians just as his predecessor was all those years ago.

We need a modern day Oliver Cromwell; one who'll bring us a modern day Restoration.

And perhaps that is an Obama. Not just of the Bin Laden variety.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

There is an alternative to cybernetic totalism

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Jaron Lanier coined the phrase cybernetic totalism in an article entitled One Half Of A Manifesto to describe what he perceived as society's idolisation of technology to the point where our relationship with the technology itself becomes the only measure of our humanity - the idea that "...evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence, Moore's Law fetishizing, and the rest of the package, will catch on in a big way, as big as Freud or Marx did in their times. Or bigger, since these ideas might end up essentially built into the software that runs our society and our lives. If that happens, the ideology of cybernetic totalist intellectuals will be amplified from novelty into a force that could cause suffering for millions of people."

Heady stuff indeed. But lets take a step back.

What he's really saying is that there are those among us (computer scientists in the mold of Turing) who believe that computers will ultimately become sentient, begin to write software for themsleves, build more machines like themselves and ultimately take over at the expense of poeple - in very much the same way as presented in the movie, The Matrix. These same poeple, as I understand the gist of the thing, don't however see this as an apocapyptic outcome; rather, they embrace it as the only eschatalogical path worth considering.

Lanier makes an interesting and very eloquent atack on this line of thought, and it really is worth reading.

The trouble is that Lanier himself seems to be mired in the same AI paradigm as his colleages, albeit from a contrary point of view.

But let me get to the point. While I agree with Lanier's thinking in response to the his cybernetic totalism, I offer another point of view on the thing.

Maybe the Internet, cybernetics and all the other stuff is merely practice for the next life.

Maybe the so called "age of aquarius" is a natural foil to technology and technological advancement. For just as we as a society are becoming more accepting of the huge potential of the technology we have created, there is also a greater acceptance of the more ethereal side of ourselves - our ability to tap into the unseen energy of the universe.

The difference of course is that you can actually touch a computer and cause measurable and repeatable things to happen, whereas when it comes to the more airy fairy phenomena we simply cannot. But does that make it any less important?

I think not.

Furthermore this merely serves as yet more fodder for the age old argument as to what constitues science; the had sciences, or their soft bretheren (sometimes known as the social sciences for lack of a better term).

Therefore, like Lanier, I feel that there is nothing to fear, but for different reasons. And I look forward to the time when we are all joined in the reat melting pot of consciousness in the sky.