Monday, December 19, 2005

The Australian: Singularly fanciful [December 17, 2005] (in blockquotes, my responses unindented)

In the final analysis, it is based on a bad inference.

Where is this final analysis? Don't you have to present the analysis? Is it really enough just to stipulate that it exists? Is all of the thinking in newspapers this fuzzy, or is it just the Singularity's mind distortion field?

Incredibly, Kurzweil argues that factories and farm jobs in the US have dropped from 60per cent to 6 per cent because of automation; no mention of Third World sweatshops or corporate outsourcing and downsizing.

Factory work has been outsourced, true, but that hardly proves that it hasn't also been automated, which it has. Farm jobs on the other hand are inherently unoutsourcable, and it's just sloppy reasoning to throw them into that sentence like that.

Farm work provides a much cleaner allegory than factory work. Most of the people in the United States used to be farmers, and now hardly anyone is, and yet we are still producing tremendous amounts of food. It's insultingly silly to look at this complete revolution in the nature of everyday life and to deny that it's important because-- well why? Because there's also outsourcing? Please.

The information sciences have sparked the mystic belief that everything is made of ethereal data and that consciousness or identity can be separated from the complex electro-biochemical dynamics of the brain.

It's not merely a mystic belief, though (& what do you have against mystics, anyway?), it's a particular philosophical argument. I'm doubtful that the author of this article understands the terrain of the debate.

Given what I've seen so far from the general public, it seems doubtful that we are going to get any serious public discussion about the Singularity until all of the essential decisions have been made and it's far too late.



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