With the likes of Siri, Alexa, and Google jibber jabbering a response to our commands, and the inspiration of science fiction bringing to life replicants, droids, Johnny 5, Wally, Terminators, Hal, and Bender; witnessing these seemingly human heaps of metal naturally leads to the contemplation of what if they were real? Given our personal and institutional dependence on technology; you, me, and Joey Baggadonuts–along with Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom and Daniel Dennett–feel compelled to image what a machine with human-like tendencies might be like.
In theory, universally everyone seems to agree that human-like machines are a possibility—after that, everything is on the table from civilization becoming a god-like utopia, to the annihilation of mankind, to AI being an overly complex benign tool. Each of these wild, colorful, and downright insightful predictions begin at the cusp of the technological horizon, or otherwise known as the singularity.
In Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, he draws the battle line distinctly between the oppressor and oppressed. While he notes that there have been many revolutions over the centuries, the system that creates oppressors has never been abolished; but rather has been adopted and perpetuated by the new powers. “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” (Marx 204). The bourgeois, in Marx’s view, has rid itself of “natural superiors” (feudal, patriarchal, and ideological) but replaced these superiors with a single, unconscionable exploitation in the form of “cash payment” and Free Trade (Marx 206). In turn, this monetary system has converted lawyers, priests, poets, and scientists into paid wage laborers (Marx 206).
As discussed in the prior post on alienation, the bourgeois have turned the weapon of capitalism upon themselves and are bringing death to itself through the exploitation and objectification of the working wage paid class—or the proletariats. The proletarians are the class of bourgeoisie, the modern working class, “who live so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital” (Marx 211). These workers sell themselves as a commodity, in a highly competitive and shrinking marketplace—a model that is unsustainable.
Exploring Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Back and Back, we’re left with a peculiar takeaway; words and language are but a virus preying upon our brains from birth. However, this virus is symbiotic and the backbone of human culture–and culture is the foundation of our intelligence.
On the surface, language seems to mimic top-down intelligent design. We humans are the creator of our language so therefore we are in control of it. However, Dennett inverts the paradigm and ties the phenomenon to evolution, demonstrating how language is as organic as natural selection. “Children acquire this natural language by a quasi-Darwinian process, achieving the competences that are the foundation for comprehension by a process that is competent without comprehension” (197). The child becomes immersed in language from birth and bootstraps themselves into comprehension through a massive and unconscious process of trial and error (197).
Marx is an atheist and highly critical of the illusion or affects created by religion. He views religion as the “ghostly realization” of the state and society, and a struggle against religion is a direct struggle against the state.
To overcome religion, the people must “demand to give up conditions that require illusions” (Marx 116). Illusory happiness must be replaced by true happiness, and a critical examination of heaven naturally leads to a critical examination of earth (Marx 116); “the critique of religion into the critique of law, the critique of theology into the critique of politics” (Marx 116). Marx calls for a war on the conditions of society and to use criticism as a weapon to not simply refute these conditions, but to utterly destroy them (Marx 117). He calls for those to be ruthless in their pursuit of correction and demands that people move beyond idle discussion and aggressively apply the critical theory.
These two categories can be traced back to the origin of life itself and to understand Daniel Dennett’s cryptic statement, “Natural Selection is thus an automatic reason-finder,” you first must understand how Dennett views reasons.
Reasons provide answers to the questions of why? However, the question why? is subdivided into two categories of what for? and how come? (38). When someone asks “why are your eyes blues?” they are really asking “what causes you to have blue eyes?” or rather, “how come you have blue eyes?” How come? questions seeks the process that explains the occurrence / observation, i.e. a kind of continuity. Understanding how come? questions is the first step in reasoning’s evolution and do not attempt to explain purpose or function (38).