[ExI] "Cybernetics Is An Antihumanism": ridicule sans context
thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Jun 12 23:35:30 UTC 2008
Well, let's see. I find a citation to something I
wrote, so I have some notion of whether he's
talking sense or not in that respect. Did Dupuy get it right?
Cybernetics Is An Antihumanism: Advanced
Technologies and the Rebellion Against the Human Condition
By <http://metanexus.net/tabid/72/Default.aspx?aid=597>Jean-Pierre Dupuy
[...] The most obvious element of the
nanotechnological dream is to substitute for what
François Jacob called bricolage, or the tinkering
of biological evolution, a paradigm of design.
Damien Broderick, the Australian cultural
theorist and popular science writer, barely
manages to conceal his contempt for the world
that human beings have inherited when he talks
about the likelihood that "nanosystems, designed
by human minds, will bypass all this Darwinian
wandering, and leap straight to design
success."14 One can hardly fail to note the irony
that science, which in America has had to engage
in an epic struggle to root out every trace of
creationism (including its most recent avatar,
"intelligent design") from public education,
should now revert to a logic of design in the
form of the nanotechnology program-the only
difference being that now it is mankind that assumes the role of the demiurge.
What I actually wrote:
Is it likely that nanosystems,
designed by human minds, will bypass all this
darwinian wandering, and leap straight to design
success? John K. Clark, a Miami electrical
engineer and nano enthusiast, has explained why
that might be feasible. He argues that with
minting `if you have a good description of an
object, then you could make another one, and if
you don't, then Nanotechnology can examine the
object and get a detailed description.'
Rather than `writing' the huge number
of coding steps needed to specify a complex
object, we might scan a desired object at the
atomic level and record the three-dimensional
co-ordinates of each atom or molecule. Then a
zillion teeny nano assemblers will allocate and
time-share the job of making the smallest
components, then joining those into next-biggest
chunks, and up the ten or so steps to a gleaming,
atomically-precise Consumer Thing.
Will simple nano work?
This is an amazing suggestion. Just record every
atom's position, and then copy what you've scanned.
How many atoms was that again?
How much memory does this call for? How fast can it be accessed?
Well, the process will be going on
simultaneously in many parallel locations and
levels. We must assume that data is stored in a
inter-communicating--nanites. We can also assume
that the scanners are using excellent compression
tricks, which saves a lot of storage. After all,
many items of instruction take this form: `find a
carbon atom; link it to the previous carbon atom
on the left; find another carbon atom; repeat five trillion times'.[...]
Still, it's not clear that we aren't
begging major questions by bravely positing `a
good description of an object' to be
matter-compiled inside a mint as complex as a factory. [...]
Darwin to the rescue
I'm inclined to think we'll get interesting
results faster through `darwinian' simulations
inside computers. That approach would use what's
called `artificial life' (`A-life'), based on
cellular automata (CAs), and genetic algorithms (GAs). [etc]
So what I was *actually* saying is that
might be the way to go. (Whether that's a dumb
idea is not the point; the good Dupuy didn't even *get* the idea.)
Ho hum. Away with the least nuance!
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