Some rebuttals to my opinions on technology

In this post, I will address some rebuttals that people have given to my arguments on technology.

I cannot know the future

I recently said that AI will grow so large and change society so much so that we will need to rely on each other less and less.

Someone replied that I cannot possibly know the future and it’s likely we will handle AI like any other technology.

Reply: it is true that I cannot know the future. However, technology has been steadily progressing in the general direction that we need each other less and less. Just think of self-checkout aisles, easily accessible information on the internet, and endless how-to videos that reduce the need for real human interaction.

Of course, it is good to have some independence. Human beings generally need a large level of autonomy for themselves. Yet, because we are social animals, we need some level of mutual reliance also. The principle of moderation states that there is a happy medium somewhere.

Technology on the other hand marches linearly towards the point of absolute independence.

AI is like any other invention, and we will handle it like any other invention

I mentioned this in the previous section. The problem with this argument is that we are not handling any technological invention particularly well. There are two reasons for that:

  1. Almost all technological progress is leading towards a planet that is being damaged beyond repair. Of course, there are many successes in ecological preservation too, and we should not downplay them. Yet, we still have an enormous problem of the highest level of CO2 in hundreds of thousands of years.
  2. We are not handling the direction of technological progress well. Almost all technology is purely for short-term profit. In fact, we built our entire society based upon short-term profit. Thus, technology is developed only for short-term profit and people who develop technology ignore long-term consequences, even though they might be plain

Unfortunately, humans have an incredible weakness. They are short-sighted. Of course, this is not particularly a bad thing if you are alone in a forest with a spear, trying to survive. But the short-sighted, immediate-future mentality that is useful in societies closely connected with nature, is maladaptive when it comes to building a technologically-advanced society where pretty much every short-term danger is ameliorated or removed by technology.

The most dangerous thing about technological progress is that we are at a point in human history where technology is relatively primitive, compared to a point in time in the not-too-distance-future where technology is far more advanced than now. Thus, we are the most comfortable, the most safe, and the most pampered compared to any point in human history (on average). We have paid the cost for this luxury in several forms:

  1. Ecological damage
  2. Damage to our humanity (more isolation, less time connected with nature)
  3. Damage to our health direclty (air pollution, microplastics, deaths directly by technology)

For most people, this is a relatively small price to pay. Unfortunately, the ecological damage is great, and it is the start of a domino effect that will increase in effect until it is catastrophic. Aside from ecological damage, the damage to our humanity is great. Technology generally reduces the value of the person to a cog in a machine, but we are just in the nascent stages of that.

All this to say, we have gotten a huge return for a seemingly small cost. However, as time marches on, the marginal benefits we will accrue over an above what current technology can provide will be small, and the costs will become huge. In other words, we are in the position of having taken out a loan for a billion dollars, and now we’re going to have to pay back the loan shark with back-breaking interest.

Going back to the initial criticism: we have not handled technological devleopment particularly well, but most people don’t see that because they only analyze our current state, and they do not take into acount at all the risks of the machine we have set up.

All my posts are written without AI. Feel free to download and copy this image to support the fight against AI!

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