Humanity 2.0

This ‘billy-do’ popped into the old inbox today, and having just read it, have to say, this Chap is all out of plusses …

Non plussed to be exact.

For a while now, he has become increasingly annoyed with assumption and arrogance of writers. This particular article is all about the fact that AI, Machine Learning, Big Data et al is causing us all to ‘hold-for-pause’. Well now. That is actually not a bad idea. I mean, we do seem to have lost the plot. Consider for example …

Whatever you say about figures like Lenin or Hitler, you cannot accuse them of lacking vision. Today, nobody in politics has any kind of vision; technology is moving too fast, and the political system is unable to make sense of it.

true … but then …

The only place you hear broad visions about the future of humankind is in Silicon Valley.

… OMG (apologies for the TLA) WRONG. The writer needs to get out more methinks. Then again, one does wholly and completely agree with the extension of thinking that …

The political system is not doing its job.

But really, it is the tone of the writing that really ‘removed his plus’. A few selections for your delectation …

“Which is great, except that we might also become so dependent on these tools that our species will become irrelevant”

… which pre-supposes that we are relevant now. We are not.

“Today, we expect algorithms to provide us with the answer”

I don’t. Do you?  But really – and it comes earlier in the piece …

” .. but it still sees human interests and desires as the highest authority in the universe.”

and

humans were special and important because up until now they were the most sophisticated data processing system in the universe

Good god almighty. Olivia Solon (the writer) is apparently “a freelance technology journalist based in San Francisco”.  I have looked elsewhere at her work, she doesn’t seem too bad actually, but this piece – I don’t know whether I am more surprised at the content (1) and badly thought through hyperbole, or Wired’s choice to publish.


(1) I am on a roll at the moment to ban the word ‘content’ from my lexicon, since I think it demeans and belittles the true value of the essential creative force that is spent to produce the article, book, post, etc …. unless I really do mean ‘content’. (So this other Chap has to remove from his shiny new resume the entry, “Content Provider to the And Another Thing blog”? But it only just went in there!)

In this case I do mean ‘content’.

Graham wonders if …

… perhaps the named writer is a ‘bot’ ‘herself,given the hero-worship of algorithms (which are just another way of humans to make value judgments, in some ways) and Silicon Valley, which has spawned some of the most awful excuses for decent human beings in recent years. (Ask Gawker, the late lamented…)

This treatment of — let’s remember, human-generated — algorithms as something special, containing some detached wisdom, some quasi-supernatural intelligence for the ages is, it seems to this Chap, downright dangerous. More to come on this, surely…