Archive for the ‘Philosophy of technology’ Category

Hating Tech? Hate Man!

July 30, 2018

Rampages against technology are fashionable: after all, we, and our entire world, depends upon it. Dependents are prisoners of their benefactor(s). The unwise will resent that. Technology is worse than a drug, then: it is the life support system of the most advanced apes who ever were. It is even more: our soul? The world-changing apes world-changed, and evolved for, and from, technology. If we have a creator specific to our species, here it is! Technology is out mother, father, what makes us possible. Hating our provider, our god: how pleasing!

Homo, the genus, and genius, is inseparable from technology. Saying technology doesn’t help, or doesn’t even help define what is human, is to have understood nothing to the genus Homo. Socrates took a stance: he posed as an anti-science, anti-tech, even anti-mental creativity type. Socrates refused even to write: after all, that’s tech too. But for his living, he depended upon an inherited stock portfolio, and his plutocratic friends and fiends. And, when, as a wealthy hoplite, he killed the enemy, it was because of his technologically superior, and very expensive armor and weapons. I can’t afford, as Socrates did, to be a hypocrite.

Diogenes too, was an anti-tech, anti-progress hypocrite: he lived in a barrel: that’s advanced technology, an expensive Gallic import… soon Gallic armies would battle down into Greece, thanks to their superior weapons due to superior metal works. Diogenes also had a dog:  another advanced technology, a Genetically Modified Organism, whose carefully twisted mind makes him love and obey his master. The reason Diogenes didn’t have to battle giant European Cave Lions was that those had been driven to extinction, thanks to superior weapons.

Also Athens existed, and could feed Socrates and Diogenes, because it imported grain from the Black Sea, two weeks of shipping away (at best). Or from Cyrenaica. Attica was too dry to feed the largest Greek city. And Athens paid back, with superior tech. Demosthenes, the philosopher, inherited also from his father. His 40 slaves were making advanced tech, sold throughout the Mediterranean. As I said, it paid for food of the last Athenian dog. It goes without saying that this imperial organization rested on the mightiest army and navy, which had persuaded cities such as Byzantium to reasonably cooperate…

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The more human we get, the more tech we get, and live from:

So on tech we go.
An interest of technology is to solve problems, which can’t be solved otherwise, lest we want to use massively the oldest methods, like cannibalism. There are countless examples, in history, of populations which have been reduced to zero, as needed by the sustainable ecological load.

As it is, we use much more planet than we have. We need another planet, or we need to quickly consume, say, 90% of humanity (the latter can easily be done, though… thanks to tech, both as an exterminator, and a redemptor).

Colonizing Mars would double the land area at our disposal. And yes, it can be done: there are giant ice cliffs on Mars: water was the big problem to terraform Mars. Up to last year, Mars looked desiccated, and it appeared one would have to crash comets into it to bring water. Now, no more. All we need is a mighty energy source. That too, tech could bring us: controlled thermonuclear fusion, already used in decent airports, looms, ever closer: a thermonuclear reactor connected to the grid is feasible… if we spent, say 100 billion dollars (5% US or EU yearly GDP).

The Counties of Alameda and Contra Costa (“AC”), in the San Francisco Bay Area form together AC Transit, which has purchased dozens of Fuel Cell Electric Buses. Those buses refuel hydrogen at dedicated service stations. Their waste? Water! Those buses aren’t just zero emission, they are the ideal complement of the photovoltaic energy rising in California. Some cities of AC provide free PV installations.

Elon Musk is an entrepreneur: he takes science invented by much deeper minds, and turns it into profitable technology. True, he got favored by Obama, in a shameless manner… while Obama killed important technologies such as Fuel Cells… to leave room to Musk, and other Silicon Valley friends Obama had (now busy making him rich). True the plutocratic connection between Musk and tech monopolies and the Obama administration was disgusting, and many involved should how be prosecuted. I wrote extensively against Musk and Bezos in the past, because they go so much help from the Obama White House. However, the fact is now both of these two plutocrat have made an important technological advance: rockets can be reused! “Space Shuttle” launches used to cost 1.5 billion dollars (yes, billion, with a b… per launch). Musk thinks he could launch a much bigger rocket for six million dollars. Indeed, doing the math, the cost of launch should be no more than a jumbo jet transcontinental flight… if the rocket is sophisticated enough.

Yet, the transition from deep science to a deeper socio-economy shouldn’t be neglected: they are entangled. No advancement of the socio-economy, no advancement of science, and reciprocally.

Rome failed because it couldn’t get going the science it needed, because its exaggeratingly fascist, pathetically impotent socio-economy (the combination of slavery and autocracy, too strong for enabling the People to contribute, not enough to crush plutocrats). Now, of course, the Romans weren’t too brainy to start with… and they kept Greece too subjugated, before finally snuffing it by mad theocracy (when the Academies were ordered closed by a Roman emperor.)

In the Tenth Century, new cultivars, of beans for the Franks, and of rice for the Vietnamese/Chinese, made a better fed Europe and East Asia forge ahead as ever more domineering civilizations… New cultivars are new technology…

Facebook is a different problem from the space adventures of Musk and Bezos. First, Facebook has no added value: all it does is spy, and find new fixes for its addicts (Instagram). Facebook is horrendously unethical, and a return to a primitivism worse than the Middle Ages. Facebook has indeed decided to censor artwork from the Middle Ages… “even if it has educational value“… Facebook grotesquely asserts. No wonder, it’s led by an uneducated grabster, used to wrap presidents around its little robotic fingers…

In general plutocracy is killing civilization. Always has, always will. However, the grandeur of Bezos’ and Musk’s missions is such, one has to make a grudging exception for them, as long as they keep on going… to Mars. That doesn’t mean we have run out of targets: all the financial derivative sector, worth 1,400 trillion dollars (yes, with a t, $1,400 thousand billions) should be destroyed. It is because it doesn’t exist in China, that China has become the world’s greatest economic power… Financiers bootstrapping themselves so they can crush us when they come down… What’s worse?
Patrice Ayme

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For comic relief, one can read Massimo Pigliucci’s and Correy Mohler’s”Diogenes the Cynic vs Elon Musk
What wisdom could the great Cynic offer to our modern-day Alexander?“. Dogs can bark, but thinking deep is not their forte… So I thank Massimo for the spark to the blistering critique above… And indeed, first, to compare Musk to Alexander the Great is beyond grotesque: Alexander is a serious, not to say mass lethal, subject. Musk is cute, but basically completely replaceable (first, consider Bezos, who is coming up with similar rockets…)