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Control of Technology

The issue of controlling technology looms over this generation, to judge by the plethora of Hollywood films about intelligent machines turned antisocial, or about high-tech spying and social control. Since technology is control, it is ultimately an issue of whether (or when) there occurs a point of no return in technological development, beyond which technology as a whole will have passed out of human control. It seems already to have passed out of deliberative civil or democratic control. It behooves us to ask, before it is too late: under what conditions can intelligence be created which remains a tool of human purpose, to serve general human benefit? Metabolism must be distinguished from reproduction. A metabolism maintains itself by a flow of energy through it. An entity might be self-replicating without being metabolic; conversely, there could exist metabolism without replication. In the age of mechanism, when it is glibly assumed that an organism is essentially a machine, the crucial thing to understand is the precise difference between organism and machine. If we hope for a robot technology that will remain subservient to human purpose, we must ensure that metabolism never be joined with self-replication. Our machines must remain without self-definition and purpose of their own. For, in the history of life, organism was the direct outcome of self-replicating metabolism. It is important to understand exactly where to draw the line—and never to cross it!

RELATED TAGS: [controlling technology, technological singularity, social control, anti-social machine, subservient technology, robot slave or master?, metabolism and reproduction, self-replication/or, organism and machine, robot intentionality/technology, (non-) autopoiesis, self-replicating metabolism]

© Copyright Dan Bruiger 2008. All rights reserved.