Noughts and Ones

Posted by

It’s no secret that I have significant fears about the role of technology in our lives. Those of you who have listened to my song Machines Taking Over the World will know this is a big issue for me.

Well, today I had someone come to my flat to fix a problem in the bathroom. Before he carried out the work (it was a very simple fix) he got a tablet out of his bag and started answering questions on the screen. He voiced his frustration at the fact that, even as a plumber, the digital world has made his job more difficult in certain ways.

I voiced my sympathy with the plumber, and said the following:

The problem with technology, and machines, is that they make everything black and white, whereas in reality, life isn’t black and white.

I think this argument sums up why machines will never be able to do so many things as well as human beings. Scientists often get very enthusiastic about the capabilities of artificial intelligence to carry out a range of tasks, but anyone who has ever used technology will appreciate that it goes wrong so much of the time for this exact reason: organic beings do not do things in binary ways. There are always infinite possibilities regarding how events can unfold in any given situation. Computers simply can’t cope with that, and they never will be able to.

Now I’m not anti-technology per se;Β I love my MacBook and my iPhone which improve my life in many ways. But I will keep making the argument that technology should be employed in a strictly limited and controlled way if we are to avoid colossal societal catastrophes in the future due to a simple ‘nought’ or ‘one’ being out of place somewhere.

The over-excitement that many tech enthusiasts feel about AI makes me very angry, because I can clearly see that these people haven’t fully considered the consequences of their actions. Making machines that are ever more powerful is something that many people lust over, but it’s a kind of insanity that may prove catastrophic in the near future if we’re not careful. We have to learn to use technology only when it is advantageous to human (or creaturely) flourishing, not just because it boosts our egos to know that we have created something powerful.

14 comments

  1. I feel the same. I live in an area that has a lot of Amish farmers. Some people laugh at their seemingly contradictory acceptance and rejection of various technologies; it appears to have no rhyme or reason. But I’ve come to understand that there is a logic behind their inconsistency. They get together as a community to decide what to accept and what not to accept on a community by community basis. Their decisions are based on whether the technology will divide or unite them. They reject technologies that change life too quickly, not strictly because they are luddites, but because it will likely leave behind the elderly, and thus create a schism in the community. And they reject technologies that would eliminate their dependence on one another as a community. I think any intelligent society will have to do something similar. Otherwise we are subjugate ourselves to the relentless momentum of technology itself. I wrote an essay in DissidentVoice which is perhaps a little too complicated, but goes by the title “The Delusions of Me, Myself and AI: On the Origins of Our Crises” that is also critical of technology. It’s on my web site also. Thanks. Jeff Shampnois

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jeff! It’s wonderful to read your comment. The Amish community you mention seem to have just the right approach, I’m so glad you shared their story.

      I’ll take a look at the article you mentioned.

      Best wishes,

      Steven

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You make such a great point about technology being black and white. I believe in limits, but I had never thought of that before. Among the good, there are absolutely some things it can never replace. Thank you for sharing 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on technology, Steven. I have a love-hate relationship with it. πŸ™‚ And I certainly don’t want to live in the 19th century! LOL! But you’re right about AI. The hopes in it are a bit misguided, in my view. While it may get us to the place where it will serve us amazingly well, it will never actually replace non-material things like human conscience, issues of the heart, or what makes us uniquely human. No amount of processing power or data will replace that; it will only simulate at best (a bit like Searle’s Chinese Room).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I fear that A.I. will cost many jobs in the future. We’ve become too dependent on technology. As someone who has worked for years in a factory, I have seen the downside of high tech machinery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bobby. Thanks for sharing, and I respect that you are experienced in this area. I very much share your fears. Let us do all we can to raise our concerns about the increasing prevalence of AI in the workplace. God bless you πŸ™πŸ»

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed the post 🌸Totally agree about technology being black and white. I am not anti-technology either but sometimes I reflect back to growing up without gadgets. I felt more present in everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ Yeah, that’s a good point about feeling present. We’re all so addicted to our gadgets. The feeling of wanting to keep checking notifications is a kind of madness πŸ™ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.