We hate you, puny humans
Competition results So, to some unfinished business.
"One's thoughts must perpetually be challenged, tested, and pollinated by others to be kept healthy," observed our own Thomas C Greene recently, writing about the latest prognosis from Professor Stephen Hawking. "One gets the sense of a man whose ideas have not been challenged in decades, and are stagnating, even putrefying."
The same could be said for former Wired honcho and technology utopian Kevin Kelly. Kelly and Hawking appear to be engaged in a private contest to prove who hates human beings the most.
It's a crowded field out there. There's Reading University's professor of bogosity Kevin "Captain Cyborg" Warwick, of course. And the Patron Saint of the Participation Age, Tim O'Reilly, who seems to spend most of his waking hours keeping the great unwashed from participating at his events. But Hawking and Kelly surely lead the pack.
Hawking has suggested that an elite few representatives of the human race should leave the rest behind, and go off to colonize new planets. He also offered the pious hope that future technologies will magically conjure up the commonsense and consensus that we've been lacking.
"Perhaps we must hope that genetic engineering will make us wise and less aggressive," said Hawking.
That's not too far removed from Kelly's current project, which is to try and convince us that technology is wise and has a positive moral purpose (seriously) - rather than something that crashes a lot and has a lot of incompatible mains chargers.
But in the dual of the misanthropes, Kelly set the bar pretty high earlier this year, when we also got an indication of how he reacts when his ideas are challenged.
The Evangelical sage of Pacifica had predicted the end of the book - to be replaced by a giant "liquid" blob of reading matter which drips out of a computer network, leaving the reader the task of mopping up.
This gibberish was challenged by author John Updike [MP3 here], who countered that this view simply reflected Kelly's own reluctance to think clearly, or his inability to concentrate. Indeed, Kelly's own thought processes are too diffuse and tangled to repeat - we dealt with them at the time - but there's some creative use of the word "average", a grand dismissal of anyone who disagrees with him as being on the wrong side of history, and the sound of a door slamming, as Kelly flounces off, never to return.
What was that about stagnation, again? It was Kelly's rapid turn of misanthropy that caught our eye.
"At least my exoskeleton doesn't talk back": Kevin Kelly and friend
Surely the guru needed to update his "New Rules For The New Economy"? We suggested a competition to provide the basis for a sequel - tentatively titled "New Rules For The New Misanthropy".
And how you responded.
1) "Preventing De-Evolution"
Without cybernetic "Warwick 2.0" implants our lack of future embracement will turn us back into monkeys. Upgrade now or face a lifetime of bananas.
2) "Splattergun not Sniper Rifle"
Load up with buzzwords and fire away. Brevity and clarity are your enemies.
The answer is what you want it to be. Anyone that doesn't understand that is destined for
Monkeyville on the good train non sustainable un-dis-anti-equillibrium.
4) "No poofters"
5) "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's distopian paradigm shift. Or HDTV"
A promising start which coins a neologism, too.
Luke Collins hits the right note with these:
"I'm right! - me, me, me!" "Tis better to be wrong in a complex way than right in a simple one" "The wisdom of crowds told us to watch Big Brother" "Make your own reality - you can if you just wish hard enough" "Progress - it's what we say" "Bring on the Rise of the Machines"
Richard Chirgwin has just one, the antithesis of Ecce Homo, he explains -
Rule: "The purpose of technology is to replace human contact."
The tech-visionary, or pathological geek, he explains, imagines his own needs and desires are an accurate reflection of the needs and desires of all humanity. He writes:
"If I want to live in glorious solitude solumnly ordering delivery pizza over SMS so as not to interrupt the smooth flow of blog entries and venture capital, then that should be the sole desire of all right-minded citizens. The visionary is Nietszche's moralist in a new suit."
Matt Thornton in Guernsey offers just one rule too, and it's pretty similar:
Rule: The output from a standard office shredder (a staple component in the quiver of any disillusioned misanthropist) makes both a comfortable lining and a rudimentary puzzle game for months spent in the makeshift foxhole at the bottom of your garden after the next dotcom fallout.
And the "avoid all wetware" theme continues as an essential Misanthropic Principle:
1) If a technology *can* be substituted for human contact, it *must* be.
Example: If you have a choice between going to a "party" in "The Sims" or going to one in real life, "The Sims" "party" is the only choice. Not that you'll ever get invited to a real-life party anyway.
2) If a technology does not yet exist as a substitute for a particular human activity, you must at a minimum imagine such a possible technology and blog about it, but preferably you should invent and build a prototype.
Example blog entry: "Why is it that nobody has come up with a decent donut-eating simulator yet? The benefits are obvious... the real trick will be getting the aroma-stimulation-circuitry just right... I imagine the sprinkles will need to be limited to chocolate-only for now, the rainbow sprinkles will need to wait for the second prototype due to the bandwidth limitations of the..."
Footnote to rule 2: Any technology you come up with via Rule 2 is automatically "emergent" and must be referred to as such.
Example: Contrary to the published reports in The Register the emergent nature of my new IntarWebDonutinizer9000 is self evident and requires no explanation.
Once a New Misanthrope™ comes up with a technology that can replace the act of dreaming up misanthropic new technologies, the loop will be complete and they will transcend this mortal plane into the ultimate techno-utopia, free of wetware at last. (Or, if the "New Misanthrope" is of the apocalyptic variety, the loop will be complete and the world will crumble, take your pick.
Sean Ross Corvallis Oregon, USA
Rule #5: Using technology to accomplish a task is always better than getting a human to do the same thing, even if it costs more, takes longer, and provides a less satisfactory result. Rule #6: There is NO rule six.
The Law of Preference: everything you don't like is dead.
The Law of Paradigms: there is a new paradigm.
The Law of Temporal Relevance: everything that happened in the previous paradigm is also dead.
The Law of Laws: it is so until proven otherwise, by which time it will be irrelevant anyway.
The Law of Progress: you're either with us, or you're with the declinists.
The Law of Perpetual Novelty: nobody has ever thought of your idea before, ever; especially if they didn't use the same words.
The Law of Manifest Acceptance: the universe in which your idea is discussed is not the one in which it will be implemented; hence total dissent is no obstacle to total acceptance.
But the winner is much more succinct. To make this a really, really misanthropic competition, it isn't a Rule at all. The competition has been a cruel prank, and so you've all been wasting your time. Hah!
Step forward Dave Bell.
Misanthropy - why be racist in the digital age?
Now we just need to kill all the humans, so the machines can work optimally. ®