Loud Noise. Fine Dust. Illustration Luke Hockley.

Loud Noise. Fine Dust.

Dear Self,

I have spent the last few days watching the very large tree that fell across our driveway become small bits of wood.

The chainsaw is a remarkable tool. Creating a great contrast of loud noise and fine dust. When it is in working order (which isn’t all the time) it cuts through a massive log like it is slicing a cake.

How did we get here? From rubbing two sticks together to an engine that can slice wood. I would never suggest we go back. I don’t think there is much of a case for not having these kinds of technological advances in our lives.

What about robots then?

Lots of people are talking about how machines are going to take over the majority of the work that humans do. Given that people make their living doing things like driving trucks there are some dramatic times ahead as we transition to a world where many of our jobs no longer exist.

There is even talk of the possibility that the machines we have created may one day dwarf our intelligence to such an extent that we will become subservient to them.

I don’t think we want that to happen. I think there would be very few people who genuinely want that.

Here is my question.

How do we know when to stop?

At the moment there is a basic assumption in our world that because we can advance technology (ie: make machines smarter) then it is inevitable that we will advance technology.

At what moment would we collectively say…Nah, I think that’s enough…?

At every step along the way, until the final step where machines take over, some human will benefit financially and socially from pushing the next technological advancement. It will be in someone’s interest to push for change that may not be in all of our interest.

I’m not saying this path is inevitable, I have no idea how all this will play out. But it does make me think about the choices we are making every day as a society and how small changes can lead us down a path that may have dramatic and unforseen, and very large consequences.

I’m not prepared to give up on the chainsaw because I can see the benefits. Am I prepared to miss out on a driverless car because I can’t see where it might lead?

Luke

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Know someone who would appreciate this letter?

What is Dear Self all about?