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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Can We Get A Little Wisdom Up In Here?

The religious  folk seem to be getting bent out of shape over Gays and the scientists are acting like there aren't any moral implications to the technologies built on their discoveries. There are things coming that can't be easily absorbed by any culture. What do we do about robots? They are coming soon, and they are going to be smart & fast. Do we develop military models? DARPA is funding the research as we sit here and eat Cheetos. We are about to take over from natural selection for Homo Sapiens 2.0. Should the next generation be taller, smaller, disease resistant, smarter, immortal or even have what we now call "race". Who's going to decide? The market? Our robot overlords? Certainly not the men and women obsessing about teaching creationism in public schools, which their kids don't attend anyway. We have some insanely important decisions to make, and many of them will be wrong, or at least not optimum.  Some results will be downright evil. 

Morality is serious stuff. Not to be wasted on teen sexual habits or what can be shown in movies or said in songs. Wars, life, death and history need our best minds working on the path we will walk. Biology, artificial intelligence, physics and other disciplines are opening doors that enter problems we haven't even considered. Some scientists are making stabs at ethics, but they fear and distrust people with easy answers. Too often the lumpen masses simply want to shut everything down they don't understand. The citizenry must become literate in science just to get any meaningful discussion started. The current lack of respect for the scientific method and emphasis cost containment in public schools offer little hope for improvement.

We don't even know what a human is. We dither over human embryos while millions of undeniable humans die early deaths of privation and disease.  Is a creature that looks like an ape, but has augmented intelligence by manipulation of its genetics to equal a human then a human? Does any plant or animal with human genes a human? Does a machine that has all the attributes of humanness then have all the rights of a human? We need someone other than science fiction writers, as wonderful as they are, working on how to address our near future. Our children will live in that world.

Great Thinkers: Turn off the televangelists and work on these things. Stop worrying about flashes of boobies on TeeVee and get cracking on stuff that really matters. I don't want have to turn this civilization around, forget Disneyland and go back home. I'm serious this time.