Can the world tame 21st century technology?

A new industrial revolution is unfolding. As Thomas Philbeck and Nicholas Davis have written, the convergence of technological innovations “across the digital, physical and biological worlds” is triggering a shift in the character of relationships, the expression of human values, and the uniqueness of human nature.

The rapid development of life-changing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), applications of quantum science, biotechnology, nanotechnology and robotics is sometimes classified as the simultaneously frenetic and dangerous “Fourth” promoted by the co-founders of the World Economic Forum. The Industrial Revolution” Klaus Schwab. This idea and its associated expectations (and fears) have become a commentary on future warfare, defense mobilization and even the structure of NATO. More importantly, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is affecting the great power competition between China and the United States, thereby shaping the struggle for world order premised on authoritarian or liberal values.

The world faces a litany of challenges, the biggest of which — global climate change — will shape living conditions this century and beyond. But this new age of technology, and its synchrony with great power competition, has given rise to a particular kind of existentialism. The nature of emerging technologies and their designed uses force people to ask painful questions about their own identity and relationship to others and the world.

In fact, rather than salvaging the familiar concepts of analysis that have prevailed in the past, there must be a more solid knowledge base to foster a broader and more coherent discourse.

Surprisingly, advances in the modern scientific revolution of the seventeenth century help provide the right point of reference. The origins of the natural sciences, represented by the writings of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, represent the development of a new way of thinking about the natural world and human beings in relation to it. Today, this is where policymakers and the anxious democratic public—if they are all engaged and serious—need to pay attention when dealing with the technology, values, and political life of this century.

Galileo and Newton realized something crucial: an intuitive, familiar, or comfortable perception of the world should not be the basis of their projects. They have chosen to think about the world in bizarre ways, yet this has resulted in remarkable and unforeseen advances—without which our technological lives would be unrecognizable—and the world has changed dramatically. As the twenty-first century unfolds, we should identify the need for a similar paradigm shift.

What makes this century special

Klaus Schwab believes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will fundamentally change the character of human existence. What is unique about this revolution, he argues, is its speed, its impact not only on “how” new technologies do things, but also on “who” humanity is becoming, and its full impact on all levels of society.

But how exactly does emerging technology lead to a new existentialism?

Emerging technologies have changed significance or human ability. This applies to a range of technologies, including artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, robotics, and even the Internet of Things, although its most representative form is artificial intelligence.

For example, the loss of professional Go player Lee Sedol to AI AlphaGo in 2016 “prompted people to reflect on what it means to be human.” Suddenly, the professional Go community had to start introspecting. Capturing the peculiar existentialism that the technology engenders, Lee retires in 2019, grimly admitting that “even if I become number one, there’s an entity that can’t be beat.”

But this existentialism has deeper roots than man-machine confrontation.Emerging technologies do not have this perceived impact on the importance of human capabilities if they do not appear often create or Evaluate In the image of human abilities – in the sense that they were originally designed to be similar to us and then better than us.Nowhere is this more evident than in artificial intelligence, where there is a growing sense that the field is uncontrollably fasta clear breakthrough in language, art and text-to-video programming.

one does not need to be techno-optimist Knowing that the impact of these technologies won’t go away just by coexisting with them.

The effects of these technologies are not just disruptive; they are existential. They threaten the uniqueness of human beings and the importance of our everyday lives. Trying to pretend these effects are isolated won’t work. It’s time to confront our persistence and accept the pain it causes.

International relations scholars and national security analysts, while divided on the extent to which emerging technologies are changing the trajectory of great power competition, have captured only one aspect of the new era. This is important because the United States and China seek to build an international order based on very different human nature and values. But that alone doesn’t capture the full scale of the 21st century.

To begin to meet this moment, lessons can be learned from thorny problems giving way to choices that lead to dramatic changes in our relationship with the natural world: advances in the modern scientific revolution.

modern scientific revolution

The modern scientific revolution succeeds because individuals allow themselves to undergo personally painful transformations. Faced with intractable problems, and problems that appeal to obvious solutions to ordinary intuition, characters like Galileo and Newton choose to lower and reconceptualize their expectations of interpretation of the natural world. Philosopher James McGilvray describes this shift as the realization that “nature seldom conforms to common sense intuition.” In the words of one observer, Galileo, Newton and others were “willing to be confused by what seems to be completely simple and obvious”.

The modern scientific revolution conveys three core lessons.

First, acknowledging that the nature of the world is often bizarre and counterintuitive, and that efforts to explain it depend on a willingness to be perplexed by it.

Second, being willing to be confused requires individuals to be prepared to make the necessary choices to doubt their intuitive perception of the world—choices that often cause pain to the individual.

In the end, by making these choices and accepting one’s low IQ status, the nature of one’s challenges, paradoxically, becomes more manageable over time.

It’s easy to forget these lessons, assuming they’ve already learned them.For example, social scientists of any discipline may lament how complex Their The research object is, but that’s the wrong lament. Physics is so successful not only because of what it studies, but because it takes the first step needed for scientific maturity: a willingness to confuse the natural world. This basic lesson holds true in a new era of technology and geopolitics.

Scholars, analysts, and observers of political life today should also be aware that ex-scientific figures like Rene Descartes simply took on the responsibility of creating a new science of the natural world, as it was recognized that the court formerly dominated Things ideas — common sense ideas about how the parts of the world interact — rather than explaining everything, in fact, explaining very little. Once the intuitive explanation is seen as a hindrance, the real work begins.

No problem today can be solved by genius alone, nor can the next theory of international relations or jargon-laden doctrines of national security confront us with the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which are both personal and intellectual, Like success, the characters of the modern scientific revolution are both personal and professional. Like any historical process, the development of modern science is a complex undertaking, but we too often “build bridges over a swamp of rich historical detail” while ignoring the critical, unique choices individuals make.

Personal but calibrated choices are at the heart of Galileo’s and Newton’s progress. They can also be at the center of the fight against the Fourth Industrial Revolution and twenty-first century political life. But the modern scientific revolution tells us that what is needed is “not an open mind, but a mind open enough and moving in the right direction”. Lowering expectations is not a failure, but a way of allowing yourself to be confused by the situation. Fourth Industrial Revolution technology requires us to do this. It is a choice that cannot be forced and reflects the values ​​upon which a free society is built. These societies should be mindful of the scale of the new age and the value of the modern scientific revolution in the face of it.

Vincent J. Carchidi is national interest. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Villanova University, specializing in the intersection of technology and international affairs.His work also appears in war on the rock, Artificial Intelligence and Societyand human rights review. You can follow him LinkedIn and Twitter.

Image: Flickr/US Department of Defense.

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