Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Is Technological Responsibility Possible?

"Machines are amplifiers" - Cooper's Law

Machines amplify our natural powers, for good and bad. The trick is to figure out the good and bad before it happens. And good luck with that! Because we'll need it!

This is from the Citadel Foundations.

There is a problem that those favoring Traditional modes of society face, pointed out by various thinkers. Technological advancement, particularly technological advancement as it pertains to international competition.

It cannot be denied that many ideals that we are fond of were undermined by new technologies. This wasn't the primary force driving changes (this was a spiritual alteration which set in among Occidentals during the 'Enlightenment'), but it was absolutely a catalyst. In several areas, because human beings have been able to develop more advanced methods of production of goods and later services, life for people has been radically altered. Not only do we face man's 'liberation from labor', but we are also seeing new technologies exploited by those with power to ensure the propagation of false memes and the perpetuate of the Progressive agenda.

For the longest time, the technologies of civilizations provided innovative ways to do things that would not be possible otherwise. In agriculture, we see things like Archimedes' screw and grain storage methods going back thousands of years. Civilization has a higher capacity to innovate than nomadic tribal society because it has to innovate to support a larger population which must necessarily specialize to produce more of life's bare essentials, food, drinkable water, and shelter from the elements, in addition to things that people naturally desire such as grandiosity.

However, once we reach the Modern era, technology begins to change. With the introduction of the firm as a key market unit in place of the guild, economic competition takes on a much greater role in larger society, aided by the collapse of religious significance for Occidental life. It is now imperative to spur creative destruction, that is the removal of market agents who refuse or are unable to innovate and provide either better or cheaper products and services. More often than not, this process has served Progressive ends. Media devices such as televisions and the printing press have allowed religious ideas to be disseminated without the use of a temple, and so have their true intentions cloaked as supposed 'news'. Household appliances have played their part in allowing women access to the labor market, a source of nothing but grief for both sexes, not to mention its detriment to children. Even more remarkable than these, our technological advancements which have made material life much more gratifying than at any other point in history, give us the illusion of that central dogma of the Cult of Progress, which is progress itself. People are seeing, from their limited vantage point, a linear change of improvement. Its like witnessing a miracle in terms of its religious confirmatory power.

But we forget of course that there are far more important factors that determine the outcome of civilization than material. Man is numb to these, and lives only for tomorrow's innovation. He has become 'homo economicus' with a Progressive operating system. His primary directives are to accrue as much economic material as he can, working within the religious confines of the dominating occult motivator which underlies his entire world.

What can be done? It is no solution to simply say the Reactionary is a Luddite: he sees technology's hideous effects on the fundamental constitution of man and wishes it done away with. If true globalism was desirable or even possible, then this might find purchase, but in a world where nations necessarily look for every advantage over other nations, the Luddite finds himself on the light end of a balance of power. It's a rat race we are in fact forced to run. No matter the moral cost, no matter how it might mutilate our internal society, we must compete because if we do not, then our neighbor will. Always, somebody somewhere will be willing to saw their foot off in order to escape the bathroom, even if we aren't. That person lives. We die. Someone mentioned this to me in the context of genetic engineering, now possible due to the advances in science over the last decade or so. Like many, I find this idea abominable. Not only do I think its a moral perversion (which carries its own set of consequences), but practically I can see looming dangers of such technologies, Our smartest scientists are like newborns at God's great computer, ready to get stuck in to an incalculably complicated code. Our instinct is to pull them away and say "don't touch that, you fool!", but if we do what will be our fate? We know the Chinese or somebody else will do it instead, and while it might lead to their utter ruin, in the short term it could very well lead them to be our masters.

So we have a dilemma. I call it the Dilemma of Technological Competition, that is, how can we maintain good societal health when the technological rat race forces us to develop technologies which may not be healthy?

It is a dilemma that I don't think has been well-addressed by any contemporary thinkers. There are some trains of thought which definitely engage with it. One says that technological advancement to a singularity is inevitable, but that its destructive power must be managed by Reactionaries if we are to survive at all. Another puts forward that technological advancement is a good means to bring about the end of Modernity in an actively pursued cataclysm, that we should accelerate this advancement to bring forth the next stage of humanity, which will end up being Reactionary.

These are very clear-cut answers. Either future technology is something we can harness and in fact must harness for a more responsible future, or technology will be the default death of Progress itself due to unforeseen consequences worldwide.

I'd propose the answer is not as easy. It seems self-evident that the death of entropic Liberalism will end in catastrophe rather than transition. There are ethnic, religious, military, and economic factors which ensure this on a global scale, which both enhance dangers and spread them over wide areas. Technology amplifies the amount of influence individuals have on this future 'event' by an incalculable magnitude. Put simply, our technological abilities allow what would previously have been insignificant portions of society to have a big impact. The problem is, this is in the hands of so many that where it might produce order in the hands of one, it produces further chaos instead. It is impossible to say what the earth will look like in fifty years time, but I would argue we are going to see increasing irresponsibility with regards to technology, as it becomes more widely available, and moves through radical stages of development with increasing velocity.

What does the aftermath look like? Unknown. It seems that technology could fall prey to the survival instinct. Can factories be maintained when civil order unravels? Can companies justify continuing the production of goods to populations in no position to buy them? I have made clear that from what has been written and what can be observed, we are gradually moving towards a point where Liberalism breaks under the weight of its own contradictions, but the scariest thing is our reliance on technology, and technology's ties to Liberalism itself. If Liberalism disappears, what of technology? Where does it land? We may end up in a world where technology unthinkable today exists for us in one area, but in another we are reduced to a subsistence level. The question remains terrifyingly open-ended.

I've spoken before about Reactionary policy prescriptions. What does the government of a Reactionary State do, with regards to marriage for example. Can a similar proposal be developed for technology? I believe it can, so long as we hold true the idea of a destiny component, that where history lands next will in fact inherently favor the success of Reactionary ideas as man will return to his organic state. By assuming this, we can say that there may not exist the international competitive pressures which drive technological advancement today.

If so, consider the following:

1) Technology is good insofar as it may improve the lives of the state's subjects within the limitation of their immaterial requirements. Technology that eliminates all manual labor from the lives of men is therefore maladaptive, for example. Such considerations should always be in play when decisions are made about which technologies are pursued in knowledge of our limited resources.

2) Technology ought not serve the ends of heteronomic or theonomic authorities in illegitimately expanding their spheres of authority. The Reactionary deplores totalitarianism, which can only be possible through the select use of particularly surveillance technologies.

3) No technology should be pursued without first taking into account its long-term social consequences. Extending the lives of a nation's people through advanced medicine is not a sound policy when these periods of extended life are periods of infirmity during which such people become unable to take care of themselves in any capacity.

4) All technologies should be passed through a moral lens. Just because we can do something, does not mean we should, and rather than viewing morality as the Modernist views it, a series of values judgments based on our subjective feelings, we should see it as a rigid guide with profound consequences for violation, not just for individuals, but societies at large.

5) It is perfectly reasonable to suspect that technologies can be justly limited to caste if there is sound practical justification for this to be the case. Certain technologies, while highly beneficial if held by the warrior caste, may be horribly detrimental if held by the merchant caste.

Beyond the fog of the future, it is hard to comprehend exactly what trials await us in the realms of technology. Which will rear their ugly heads, and which will vanish with a soft refrain of "what is a microwave?". General principles are useful to postulate in such a dilemma, so that they may be flexibly applied to any given situation which may confront the Reactionary State. Politics trumps any technological interest there is. If it is politically more appropriate to have man live no longer than 60 years of age, then technology must submit to this demand. Machines are not here to serve our personal purposes, but to serve our greater collective mission which is the maintenance of a healthy, responsible, moral, and stable society. It is error to think that greater technological prowess in all areas serves these ends. History says little to support such a notion, and plenty against it.

"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park


Mindstorm said...

If reactionary equals Luddite, then reaction is as much a failed movement as Luddites. I'd rather stick with accelerationists.

Mindstorm said...

And since when 'more regulation' stopped meaning 'more trouble'?

kurt9 said...

Any technological innovation that allows individuals and small, self-interested groups to take control of their own destiny is always a good thing. The fundamental conflict of our's, and any time, is liberty vs. tyranny. Decnetralization vs. centralization. Most of the new technologies, bio-engineering and 3-D printing for eaxmple, are inherently decentralizing. That Seattle woman who spent $250,000 of mostly her own money to develop two new gene therapies from scratch in order to cure herself of aging made clear that bio-engineering is an inherently garage-level DIY technology.

Bob Wallace said...

The more things become decentralized the better it is for everyone.

Competition between countries, however, is going to create things about which we cannot tell the future. And that, as always, is the problems.

Curt Cowsen said...

I think he stated that reactionary does not equal luddit, that was the entire point, was it not?

Mindstorm said...

His propositions are unfeasible either way. Consider Google buying Boston Dynamics to stop researching military warfare. What would that achieve besides the U.S. losing the edge in the arms race?

Mindstorm said...

*military robotics

Curt Cowsen said...

His proposition is that we are heading towards some massive shift in the world order due to the advance of technology, and that this will be destructive (an anti-singularity theory). He then gives a destiny based prediction of post-shift affairs, that international arms races won't be a factor due to the destruction caused by the shift. Then he lists how his preferred society would prevent technology having a negative effect on its native population.

The thing about this guy's writing is that he is essentially an end-times political tactician (not end-times in the religious sense of that phrase). I've read a lot of his stuff before, and he never approaches politics with today in mind, he doesnt seem to care at all about today, only what might emerge tomorrow, which he plans for.