Saturday, November 03, 2007

Review of The Singularity is Near

The review is now posted: I just submitted one for Lucifer's Hammer. That ought to give me some breathing space to read non-SF or non-space stuff for awhile. Gosh knows I need the break.

We'll just see what sort of reaction (if any) the Singularity review gets. I'll probably be zapped as a technological pessimist. I repeat my stance on technology here, though: just because we can do a thing, that does not mean that we must do that thing. In truth, I'm not a technological pessimist--I'm actually more of an optimist, as I'm quite willing to go, "That's cool!" when someone explains a new technology to me; however, I am a pessimist about human behavior. Scientific knowledge by itself is essentially neutral; how human beings use that knowledge is a matter of ethics and personal behavior. For an object lesson on this issue, I highly recommend Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut or The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

I won't stand in the way of a nuclear plant being built or prevent a forest from being cut. I will tap eminent scientists and engineers on the shoulder and ask them if they've considered the implications of their actions. For gosh sakes, someone has to. Technology minus ethics gives us Nazi Germany.


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