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I recently was made aware of an article that popped up on The Conversation: Augmentation technologies are here but are people listening? Very interesting article, short and to the point, worth a read.
“There’s an implicit judgement at play: being the traditional purview of philosophy and genre fiction, the sociological and ontological ramifications of these technologies are not considered worthy objects of public attention. As a result, public figures in Australia remain deafeningly silent, even despite several half-hearted attempts to invigorate the issue.”
Are the ramifications of these technologies worthy of public attention?
– Yes they are.
I spoke with the author Ryan Wittingslow, he reported that he was unaware of the Singularity Summit Australia, and some of the networks in Australia that are engaged in discussion about augmentation technologies. He said he was, (I think he meant at a local level) acting as an independent agent with regard to the ideas expressed in the article – which I thought was a shame and I am sure there are many who are not aware of the local networks. These ideas are very important, so if you feel the ideas are worthy of public attention, become a heretic – engage the disengaged :D.
I agree with the article in that some augmentation technologies already exist and are widely available (glasses, cochlear implants, pacemakers, gene therapy and some suggest portable devices phones, Google Glass are augmentation technologies as well). Extrapolating on exponential trends so far as well as relevant areas of research today strong arguments can be made to suggest that very profound augmentation technologies are likely not that far away.
With practically no funding in AU for drives like Singularity Summit Australia, and hardly any media coverage, we are likely to be blind-sided down under by some of the more radical technologies on the horizon. Whatever the reason for deafening silence, we should engage with these issues now, rather than later (when it may be too late to effectively shape game changing technologies).
I argue that advanced technology (augmentation technology, AI etc) does enable great risks to humanity. On the other side of the coin, with enabling technologies we can hope for better solutions (with more headroom) to many of our large scale problems. People often fail to see the connection between the advancement of technology, and things like cures for Alzheimer’s or economic stability and fairness, but solving problems (like economic fairness or Alzheimer’s) is ultimately a problem of being smart enough and having the right tools to figure out how to do it.
If our goals really are to solve the worlds greatest problems, are we focusing on how to be technologically equipped to solve them?
And are we giving enough respect to both the risk and opportunity of advancing technologies?
Join the conversation at the Singularity Summit Australia – Aug 18-19 2012, and please help spread the word. http://2012.singularitysummit.