Headline, February 13 2024/ EXTINCTION : ''' ARTIFICIAL MAN'S ARTWORKS '''




THE CZECH PLAYWRIGHT KAREL CAPEK'S 1920 DRAMA, '' R.U.R.,'' imagined a future in which artificially intelligent robots wiped out humanity in a scene that would strike fear into the hearts of Silicon Valley doomers, a character in the play observes :

'' They've ceased to be machines. They're already aware of their superiority, and they hate us as they hate everything human.'' As the A.I. godfather Geoffrey Hinton who quit his job at Google so he could warn the world about the very technology he helped create, explained :

'' What we want is someway of making sure that even if ''these systems are smarter than us, they're going to do things that are beneficial for us.''

This fear of a new machine age wasn't quarantined to fiction. The popular detective novelist R. Austin Freeman's 1921 political treatise, '' Social decay and Regeneration,'' warned that our reliance on new technologies was driving our species toward degradation and even annihilation, an argument that The New York Times reviewed with enthusiasm.

Others went to even greater lengths to act on their machine age angst. In 1923, when '' R.U.R.'' opened in Tokyo, a Japanese biology professor, Makoto Nishimura, became so convinced by the machine-facilitated fiction the play depicts that he sought to create other, benevolent robots to prevent the human species from being ''destroyed by the pinnacle of its creation,'' artificial man.

ONE WAY TO UNDERSTAND extinction panics is as elite panics : fears created and curated by social, political and economic movers and shakers during the times of uncertainty and social transition.

Extinction panics are, in both the literal and the vernacular senses, reactionary, animated by the elite's anxiety of maintaining its privilege in the minds of societal change. Today it's politicians, executives and technologists.

A century ago it was eugenicists and the right-leaning politicians like Churchill and socialist scientists like Haldane.

That ideologically varied constellations of prominent figures shared a basic diagnosis of humanity and its prospects : that our species is fundamentally vicious and selfish and our destiny therefore bends inexorably towards self-destruction.

To whatever extent, then, that the diagnosis proved prophetic, it's worth asking if it might have been at least partly self-fulfilling.

Despite the similarities between the current moment and the previous roaring and risky '20s, today's problems are fundamentally new. So, too, must be our solutions. It is a tired observation that those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

We live in a peculiar moment in which this wisdom is precisely inverted. Making it to the next century may well depend on learning from and repeating the tightrope walk - between technological progress and self-annihilation - that we have been doing in the past 100 years.

It will depend, too, on rejecting the conservative doommongering that defines our present : the entangled constrictions that we are too selfish forestall climate change, too violent to prevent war, too greedy to develop A.I. slowly and safely.

Extinction panics are often fomented by elites, but that doesn't mean we have to defer to elites for our solutions.

We have gotten into the dangerous habit of outsourcing big issues - space exploration,  clean energy, A.I. and the like - to private businesses and billionaires.

Our survival may well depend on reversing this trend. We need ambitious, well resourced government initiatives and international cooperation that takes A.I. and other existential risks seriously.

It's time we started treating these issues as urgent public priorities and funding them accordingly.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on '' The 100-year extinction panic '' continues. The World Students Society thanks Asstt Professor Tyler Austin Harper.

With most respectful dedication to Mankind, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - the exclusive and eternal ownership of every student in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter X !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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