Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Doomers and the technological singularity

Apologies to my regular visitors (for my recent lack of posts, and for this little rant) but I’ve been a bit distracted away from blogging lately. For some insane reason, I’ve been having a few little arguments with peak oil doomers here and there (mostly on I really should be blogging about important stuff like technology with what little spare time I have rather then butting my head against the immobile wall of peaknic pessimism, but what can I say, I just enjoy the lame responses those guys endlessly churn out.

The latest argument was about the possibility of the technological singularity solving PO, and it was amusing to see the number of doomers that firstly have no understanding of technological progress, and secondly attribute my “cornicopian” attitude to not understanding the severe environmental issues humanity faces. Yet when I offer my understanding of environmental issues (no shit Sherlock, the world is getting warmer and the oceans are in a sorry state – it’s no secret), they insist I fail to understand our predicament. Of course, most of these Luddites don’t understand the basic concepts of high-end technology, nor do they want to, yet they accuse others of ignoring facts. When I refer to advancing technology, these people think I’m talking about iPods.

The most amazing thing of the argument though is the underlying philosophies. I believe that our best chance, hell, our only chance of repairing environmental damage is to develop and refine the appropriate technologies. Doomers believe the best chance for the environment is for 4 or 5 billion people to die, and then leave the environment to magically repair itself. Fucking morons.

Doomer ready to save the environment, complete with eco-friendly transport.

Some recent samples from a singularity thread (I know, I’ve really got to stop visiting that site):

All the singularity talk really is doomerism in disguise, its' religion with a science icing, something will come.

You seem to have attached yourself to the singularity like a Christ figure.

This seems like the religious impulse acting under the guise of science.

None of this singularity BS is relevant to peakoil. It's not like an AI would be able to pull a new thermodynamic paradigm out of its silicon ass to save the planet at this point.

AI 'experts' (there's no such thing you should know) have predicting the rise of 'intelligent' machines for decades now, and we're still no where even close.

But even if we achieve the "singularity" and AI, I don't see how that fixes a broken Earth. Brings back extinct species. Reverses runaway global warming. Cleanses the world ocean. Creates energy out of nothing or otherwise defies the laws of physics.

If an ET alien came to earth with the periodic table and was told "design an energy carrier for planet Earth" it would come up with gasoline.

So we get the old "science is your religion, and singularity your 2nd coming of Christ". -No dipshit, science is a way to understand and world around us without blind faith and belief systems, and singularity is something that may possibly result from continued exponential progress.

We get the constant Luddite technophobia and belief that science and technology has failed us. And apparently there is no such thing as AI experts. Humph, I expect my professor from my AI unit when I studied software development would have something to say about that. People that think AI hasn't made any progress would be suprised to know just how much "soft AI" as permetated our society. If you were to shut down every form of AI, modern civilization would suddenly grind to a halt. And I suppose the success teams have enjoyed in autonomous vehicles driving long off-road obstacle coursed counts for nothing? And this contest isn't even the AI big wigs, it's only open to the backyard project type teams.

Cars that drive themselves. The technology was once the stuff of impossible fantasy where autonomous cars and David Hasselhoff teamed up to fight crime. Now it’s real… but nobody seems to care.

And of course we get the heart of the doomer belief system itself; “hail the almighty hydrocarbon, the supreme fuel source of all time! E.T., A.I., or God himself could not even create a better fuel source then gasoline.” No wonder these morons think we are so doomed.

And these quote were just from the last couple of pages of the discussion. This garbage went on for a dozen pages before that.

Well that’s enough ranting. I’m staying away from the doomer sites now. Those guys can horde ammo and cans of baked beans for the next few decades, fantasizing about their Mad Max scenarios. I am well aware now that there is no point in an optimist engaging in conversation with them. So I’ll let them be, however, I would like to see their reactions in twenty five years when civilization is still humming along and A.I. is beginning to make to world a better place for everyone. But I suspect that these Luddites will be too firmly entrenched in their shelters to realize that the world has moved on without them.

Once again, apologies for the rant. This is the last time!


At 7:29 AM, Blogger Michael Anissimov said...

Argue for molecular manufacturing, not the Singulatity. And you're being silly by visiting Peak Oil sites and arguing with them. Why not talk with transhumanists?

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now we have cars that can drive themselves without running into things or people... in the desert! Yeah, that'll solve all our problems!

At 1:21 AM, Blogger Omnitir said...

Is anyone suggesting that backyard teams building self driving cars is going to solve any problems?

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I visited Peak Oil today. I read it, was ignorant, bawled a little bit about the end of my life as a I knew it, then went back to google. A light came on and I thought: 'I've heard about technological singularity-- how does that compute with peak oil?'

So I googled and meandered over here. Thank goodness for you. You saved me from my doomsday misery. I'm back to do some other research now, but I bookmarked your site.

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