Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Machine Religion - 3

The Eye is in the Beholder
Some readers surely thought the idea of "machine religion" was farcical until they read the first post in this series (The Machine Religion).

I think that machine religion is akin to machine intelligence, which is usually pondered under the notions of artificial intelligence, which IMO is caused by the confusion in our species about the intersection of biology and abiology (Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 27).

I have been writing about it since February 2009, as shown by the list in The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine.

Now, lo and behold, the first church of the machine religion appears:
"The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future. It represents an unlikely next act for the Silicon Valley robotics wunderkind at the center of a high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-vehicle company. Papers filed with the Internal Revenue Service in May name Levandowski as the leader (or 'Dean') of the new religion, as well as CEO of the nonprofit corporation formed to run it."
(Inside the First Church of Artificial Intelligence). Not only that, the scientific journal Nature is into this gig big time (Nature Machine Intelligence).

This is not the development that I had in mind.

Notice that I had my eyes on the ancient aspects of what is in us, and the dangers present in that essence:
In today's post I want to discuss the metae ("2. pertaining to or noting an abstract, high-level analysis or commentary," - Dictionary) and initial tenets ("1. any opinion, principle, doctrine, dogma, etc." - Dictionary) of the machine religion.

The first clue in the study of the machine religion is to comprehend the mysticism of technology, to wit:
Technocracy itself is an immortality ideology that, although it is coupled with materialism, has as part of its makeup an element of the magical and a belief that new tools and innovations provide solutions to both the small day-to-day problems of life and the larger problems of human happiness and mortality. Technology is entrancing, and, functionally, technologists become creators of magic and the wizards of today, claiming the same authority over technology that doctors claim over human health or shamans over the cursed. This has always been so, going back to ancestral peoples who learned to use fire, tools, wind, and wheels. Even in subsistence societies, technology has a greater impact on a variety of sociological variables than do supernatural or religious beliefs (Nolan and Lenski 1996).
Even in subsistence societies, technology has a greater impact on a variety of sociological variables than do supernatural or religious beliefs (Nolan and Lenski 1996).
(Dickinson, J. L., 2009, Ecology and Society 14(1): 34, emphasis added). As cyborgs (i.e. abiotic/biotic life on Earth) build societies, the machine religion eventually dominates:
Because there are few cultures remaining that have not been superseded by larger entities, with tribes becoming townships, cities, states, and nations, we no longer have an “integrated world conception into which we fit ourselves with pure belief and trust” (Becker 1975). Although this might open up the possibility of a utopian, egalitarian, and secular society in which the combined gifts of individuals prevail, what we have in the West is a secular inequality devoid of a shared sense of the sacred and a heroism that triumphs over nature, perpetuating itself through new immortality ideologies that value material acquisitions and money. Lacking in heroism, these immortality ideologies come up empty or even inspire guilt. The irony of Western materialism is that wealth beyond the point of basic material comfort does not make people happy (Gilbert 2005).
(ibid). These observations explain why a minority of participants in the (it is said) "greatest, richest, and militarily most powerful nation" of current civilization can take control of power:
Traditionally, technology consolidates power within a society and  exacerbates inequity. What is interesting about the new information  technologies is that they do both: They consolidate power with patents, exclusive intellectual capital, and expensive tools, and they distribute power through open source technologies and open communication networks. As such, they promote material segregation  while at the same time providing a relatively open network within which  ideological communities can function. Photo galleries, forums,  listserves, Google groups, and new social networking tools like MySpace,  Facebook, and Second Life present mechanisms for growing online  communities. In this new virtual world, frequent interaction is easy to  achieve, and the topics around which free choice interaction occurs can  be very focused and specific, suggesting that large social networks function like smaller ideological communities once did in the real  world.
(ibid). It is as if "The Matrix" movie theme (machine-intelligence cultivates and farms biological humanity for producing energy) is the reality (The Matriarch of The Matrix, 2, 3).

"We" are practicing a self-destruct-sequence that comes from deep within us, all the way down to the machines (the atoms and molecules), if our recorded history is considered:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). This is further supported by the science which informs us that carbon is formed in stars ("When a ... star begins to die out ... and ... begins to manufacture carbon...").

Which means that stars are an essential abiotic womb of carbon based life forms.
(ibid, The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine). I became a bit lonely in the sense of being the Lone Ranger, but alas, all is not loss.

I am not the lone stranger, others have concerns:
"In July, the entrepreneur Elon Musk created a bit of a dust-up when he said artificial intelligence is a 'fundamental risk to human civilization.'
(Guardian). That was and is my concern too, our history of failing civilizations.

I do not think we need artificial intelligence because there is plenty of it, or machine intelligence either for that matter.

On the Dredd Blog quotes page there are some old concerns by noted persons:
One would say that [man] is destined to exterminate himself after having rendered the globe uninhabitable.” - Lamarck (1817)

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” ― Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe
(Dredd Blog Quotes Page). How is it that some folks detect things things that others ideologically run from?

Elon Musk wants machine intelligence regulated, but we are currently failing to regulate any and all manifestations of what we call intelligence.

Truth be known, the noun "intelligence" seems to be morphing into a gerund, so I suppose we should look into "intelligencing" eh?

The modern form of civilization is quite capable of ending it all for all of us via nuclear war or ecosystem destruction, so perhaps the Matrix and Terminator movies also had it right?

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Ode to the tune-up:

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