Sunday, 21 November 2010

Humans are Not the Dominant Species on Earth

We have created artificial intelligence and it is destroying our world and the means of our existence. This chilling piece is from

"Unfortunately, we created corporations and gave them life before Asimov drew up his Three Laws of Robotics. The First Law was: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” The Second: “A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.” We would be much better off today if all corporations – which, like robots, are man-made automata – were constrained by these laws.

Our legal systems instead put into these business automata a single urge – to seek profits. This one-track mind has made them take over commonly-held sources of abundance – from seeds, to land, to knowledge – and turn these into monopolies because it is profitable to do so. What they could not take over, they have undermined or sabotaged, to create artificial scarcity. Corporations have destroyed the fertility of our soils, substituting commercial synthetics in their place; they have stopped the natural flow of mothers’ milk in favor of commercial formula; they have bought out independent seed companies, to force-feed us with genetically-modified toxic foods, all in pursuit of profit. They have become, in Wolfgang Hoeschele’s words, “scarcity-generating institutions”.

We conceded to corporations legal personhood, turning them into a de facto man-made species of business automata. They have become super-aggressive players in our political, economic, and social worlds. Beating us in our own game, they have taken over governments, economies, and media. Having become masters in domesticating Homo sapiens, they now house, feed, train and employ tamed humans to serve as their workhorses, pack mules, milking cows, watchdogs, stool pigeons and smart asses.

Thus, I will argue, corporations are now the dominant species on Earth. They routinely ignore human orders, injure human beings and foul up ecosystems in violation of laws for automata; these man-made mammoths now occupy the top of the food chain and have become the greatest threat to our well-being and the survival of many species on this planet

We face, it seems, three fundamental and interrelated challenges in the twenty-first century:

First, we must reacquire a species consciousness as Homo sapiens and reestablish our connections with the natural world. With our conscious mind, unique intelligence and creative powers, the human, says a new story of creation, is the Universe’s way of looking at itself and appreciating its own beauty, origins, evolution and grandeur. For this, we carry a huge burden of responsibility to the rest of the living world, now dying under a great wave of extinctions.

Second, we must free ourselves from corporate control. This basically involves learning to keep ourselves healthy through the right natural environment, food and protection from the elements, and raising our young under the new mindset, without depending on corporations. We must rely instead on each other and on commonly-held sources of abundance we ourselves can build and maintain.

Third, we must reestablish control over corporations. This involves reprogramming them to obey Asimov’s three laws for automata, and hunting down disobedient corporations. Eliminating the disobedient from the corporate gene pool is the first step in reclaiming our role as stewards of the natural world and masters of our own creations.

Given the powers of the corporate species, these are daunting tasks indeed. But they are also tasks worthy of Homo sapiens."

Hmmmm that's thought provoking.

1 comment:

  1. From Chapter 1 of Fredy Perman's brilliant 'Against History, Against Leviathan' (1982):
    "There are as many ways to speak of the wrecking of the Biosphere. From the standpoint of a single protagonist, Earth herself, it can be said that She is committing suicide. With two protagonists, Mankind and Mother Earth, it can be said that We are murdering Her. Those of us who accept this standpoint and squirm with shame might wish we were whales. But those of us who take the standpoint of the trapped animal will look for a third protagonist...

    Who, then, is the wrecker of the Biosphere? Turner points at the Western Spirit. This is the hero who pits himself against the Wilderness, who calls for a war of extermination by Spirit against Nature, Soul against Body, Technology against the Biosphere, Civilization against Mother Earth, god against all.

    Marxists point at the Capitalist mode of production, sometimes only at the Capitalist class. Anarchists point at the State. Camatte points at Capital. New Ranters point at Technology or Civilization or both.

    If Toynbee's protagonist, Mankind, is too diffuse, many of the others are too narrow.

    The Marxists see only the mote in the enemy's eye. They supplant their villain with a hero, the Anti-capitalist mode of production, the Revolutionary Establishment ...

    Anarchists are as varied as Mankind. There are governmental and commercial Anarchists as well as a few for hire. Some Anarchists differ from Marxists only in being less informed. They would supplant the state with a network computer centers, factories and mines coordinated "by the workers themselves" or by an Anarchist union. They would not call this arrangement a State. The name-change would exorcize the beast.

    Camatte, the New Ranters and Turner treat the villains of the Marxists and Anarchists as mere attributes of the real protagonist. Camatte gives the monster a body; he names the monster Capital, borrowing the term from Marx but giving it a new content. He promises to describe the monster's origin and trajectory but has not yet done so. The New Ranters have borrowed lights from L. Mumford, J. Ellul and others but have not, to my knowledge, gone further than Camatte.

    Turner goes further. His aim is to describe only the monster's spirit, but he knows it is the monster's body that destroys the bodies fo human communities and the body of Mother Earth. He says much about the monster's origin and trajectory, and he speaks often of its armor. But it is beyond his aim to name the monster or describe its body.

    It is my aim to speak of the beast's body. For it does have a body, a monstrous body, a body that has become more powerful than the Biosphere. It may be a body without any life of its own. It may be a dead thing, a huge cadaver. It may move its slow thighs only when living beings inhabit it. Nevertheless, its body is what does the wrecking."