[ExI] The robot bees are coming

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Oct 2 20:32:03 UTC 2012

On 02/10/2012 09:31, Kryonica wrote:
> I know that Anders, who has a keen interest in insects and a nice 
> collection of beetles, will disagree.

Of course. I agree that the style of insects is not for everyone. I do 
have my favorites mainly in coleoptera, while regarding most of 
hymenoptera as annoying and diptera as disgusting.

There is a biophobia among modern people: we mostly live in fairly 
sterile environments where any species not added by ourselves is seen as 
a sign of filth, decadence or invasion. This is a hopeless struggle: 
there is almost certainly an arthropod within a meter of you at this 
very moment. It also cuts us off from our environment.

Rather than aiming for perfect sterility we should turn our world into a 
garden, an ecosystem dominated by the functions we like and minimizing 
the ones we loathe. This is for example why I encourage spiders in my 
home: they catch the insects I don't want around. After reading the 
Apocalypse Codex I get very amused every time I meet an isopod in my 
bathroom. I have tried singing psalms at them, but they run away - they 
clearly have musical taste :-)

Robot insects of course have a place here. We need them as bellwethers 
and mobile sensors, telling us what the small world is up to and 
allowing us to influence it. But I can totally see a role for cyborg 
insects (like those fun beetles, roaches and moths with chils) or 
biotech insects (I want to make a new beetle species! There are not 
enough of them!)

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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