Will the human race be subsumed by self-aware computers as they gain super intelligence and take over the planet? This is the “Terminator” type scenario envisioned as somehow a happy thing by the fans of the future melding of man and machine known as the Singularity. ¬†Are we falling into a trap with our misplaced faith that computers are somehow able to replicate human experience? Does this mean Facebook and other social databases demean and diminish human randomness and experience? Are we willingly destroying our individuality in favor of a borg-like hive mind noosphere cult?

Yeah, kind of, yes, to all of the above, ¬†according to Jaron Lanier, the multi-talented scientist who lead the development of virtual reality among other projects. His recent book, “You Are Not a Gadget” is a thoughtful argument against the rising tide of mob mentality and misplaced faith in technology and computers that is destroying our individual humanity. It’s an incredibly eye-opening read I highly recommend. He’s not against the internet or new technology. He is carefully constructing an argument in favor of deeper thought, awareness and planning to prevent mob rule and the loss of our humanity.
Will humanist concerns guide technology development to leverage our brains with better tools, not supplanting them? Yes, perhaps if enough people read this book.

Web resources related to the book You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

September 2010

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