Ideas and Machines
In the over 4 million years humans have existed, major advancement in technology and machine innovation has been evident in the last only 1000years. Directed creativity and innovation have proved to be much faster than biological evolution. It is still assumed that elsewhere, there must be machines evolving under the direction of aliens and that they could be more advanced than what we have on earth today.
The growth and development in innovation of tools in the ancient world were influenced by strange factors: kingdoms concentrated their labor force manufacturing arsenal for war and improving them. On the other hand, slavery reduced the pace of machine evolution. The Romans and Greeks had acquired so many slaves that the slave population was more than twice their own. The kingdoms depended on slavery so much that there was no need for machine innovation. All the work was done effectively and efficiently by human labor. Consequently, a ban on slavery across the globe has created room and need for ideas to transform simple hand tools to independent self-driven machines. The few creative ideas at the time were mainly dedicated to and intended for the royal families.
Locke's philosophies sharply criticize unequal perception of human beings. In the Two treatises of Government, he defended his claim that men are, by nature, free and equal with rights to life, liberty and property. Being one the founders of liberal and free political philosophy of individual rights and limited government, his theory on natural law is a great contribution to most national policy systems including the United States constitution.
In the 20th century, we have witness tremendous strides in technology and explosive evolution of the automobile, airplane and most popularly, the digital computer. Every day, there are improvements to existing systems and modification of troublesome parts of newly manufactured machines. Machines that require more effort and energy to operate gradually become extinct while those that are more adaptive survive and are modified into even better ones.
The rate of evolution is accelerating; by accumulating the superior characteristics of each innovation, humans have, for instance; used computers to design new machines, as well as other computers and computerized systems. It has led to yet another even faster evolution referred to as participative evolution (Sutherland, 2013). According to Sutherland, further and faster mechanical evolution is possible with machines participating in engineering. The super-intelligent computerized systems can make improvements that biological minds would take longer to create. With the ability to mine and reproduce, machines are expected to survive and an outlived man (Anderson 2011). Global nuclear war is expected wipe man out of the face of the earth and robots left to flourish and explore the earth.
Human extinction is inevitable. More important is how fast we are moving towards extinction and/or what we are doing to reduce our time of existence on earth. Our consistent modification of nature works to shorten our existence. However, through advanced science, we have acquired much information and knowledge on the nature, how to predict and extents of preserving it. This information should help us escape the fate of negative consequences that come with destruction and alteration of the nature. Engineering (our prowess in creating machines) on the other hand has historical evidence of major catastrophic disasters. Every machine comes with a risk or possibility of unforeseen catastrophic event. Uncountable machine innovations are getting out of hand.
It is expected that machines created, especially computerized ones, should be dependable and predictable and their functions defined. However, with increased complexity in modification and creativity, newer innovations are barely fully testable; they are unpredictable and hence not safe.
Moreover, there have been fears and debates on when machines will surpass human intelligence and take over control of man. Kurzweil pinpoints 2045 as the year machines will surpass human intelligence in what is referred to as 'singularity.' Movies, for instance, the terminator, featuring Arnold Swazznegger, portrays the imaginable and expected effects of the existence of super-intelligent machines. The future is, by research, highly predictable-and not pleasant. Engineers and environmental analysts should have a debate on to what extent they should interfere with nature and ways to keep us safe for the sake of the future generation's survival.
As Burke states in the day the universe changed, the universe is what we perceive it with the knowledge we have acquired. We are likely to ruin the earth as we know it and cause a fast exit to the existence of mankind if we do not reconsider our ideas and our prowess in creating unstable, unpredictable machines and super-intelligent computers.
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Friedrich, C. J. (2009). The philosophy of law in historical perspective. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr.