Friday, May 27, 2011

Star Trek Is Predicated on Human Idiocy

An author I was reading just made the seemingly profound point that Star Trek is predicated on the continuation of human idiocy. There is no cure for human idiocy in the future. It's been tried and many types of insanity (bloodthirstiness, psychosis, psychopathy, narcissism, child abuse) amply represented in America have been eradicated, but idiocy per se lives on.

Yet this seemingly profound statement is trivial since it follows directly from the observations that: 1) humanity is defined by its idiocy, and that is its biggest problem by far, and 2) SETI and scifi types think humans are privileged and all creation will be just like us, because God says so! These are the genuinely profound statements, although they only become profound with complete characterizations of human idiocy and feelings of self-privilege. Without that, they remain trivial.

Nonetheless, whether profound or trivial, it is obviously true that Star Trek is predicated on human idiocy. There are ample examples in Star Trek of mindless idiotic human prejudices writ large across the entire United Federation of Planets.

Examples

Firstly, all AI are evil. NOMAD, Landru. And if they're not evil then they're inimical: V'Ger, the whale Probe. Barclay-as-the-computer is obviously evil since nobody bats at eyelash at the "need" to lobotomize him.

Secondly, genetic engineering is evil. Nobody bats an eye at someone going to prison for genetically engineering a child. Nobody would ever consider the notion that every caring parent has a moral obligation to genetically engineer their child. That's just heresy!

Thirdly, collectives are evil. When Borg attain individuality then suddenly everyone thinks they've stopped being evil. Only Picard knows better and bothers to check whether individual Borg are okay with mind-rape. Janeway in particular mind-rapes a Borg drone in order to force her to be an individual, and nobody bats an eyelash.

Fourthly, clones are evil and can be killed at the will of the "original". O'Brien kills a clone of his without blinking. Riker kills a clone of his. Everyone accepts that clones are inferior to "natural" people without considering that genetic engineering would wipe out any so-called "cloning errors" actually making them superior.

Fifthly, it's obvious that transporters have been specifically and carefully engineered to prevent copies from happening. Transporters are purely analog even though this must have been difficult to achieve with fundamentally digital technology. Why don't Starfleet officers make copies to ensure their survival? Why doesn't anybody adapt transporter technology to do so? It must be illegal.

And that's without going into the warfare, war crimes, disease, mortality, religious fundamentalists, nutters creating biological weapons, a "scientific establishment" for Noonian Soong to rail at, and yes even poverty. And yes we know from Data's creator's name that he is evil, or at least was meant to be. All things that can only exist through sheer idiocy.

Solution

There is a solution to human idiocy. It is not obvious even to those few who can understand it. and unfortunately only a few percentage points of the population have the cognitive capacity to understand it at all.

Lloyd deMause made a theory of the history of childrearing which predicts 6 and only 6 types of psyches. There can be subtypes but there can be no more types than these 6. The last type, the Helping type, is reached when child abuse and neglect have been eradicated and good childrearing prevails.

Fortunately for us, Julian Jaynes made a theory of the prehistory of childrearing which predicts at least 3 additional types of psyches which all occur previous to the 6. (They are all bizarre beyond casual description.) Though deMause's theory doesn't draw any distinction between the first of his 6 and Jaynes' 3, Jaynes' theory does draw a sharp demarcation line at the acquisition of consciousness.

Based on this and other knowledge, including Kazimierz Dabrowski's theory, it is possible to predict the existence of 3 types of psyches in post-human history. They are

  • 7 - cultivated humans - the dominance of analytic-synthetic people in civilization.
  • 8 - enhanced humans - the advance of neuro-cybernetic implants.
  • 9 - post-humans - a continuity of minds achieved by AI or Borg hive-mind.

The 7th type can be achieved by any of AI-assisted childrearing, eugenics, genetic engineering, or neurosurgery. Society will be radically different when the 5 or so percent of analytic-synthetic people actually achieve their potential. It will again be radically different when analytic-synthetic AI (or cultivated humans) come to dominate civilization.

The Future

One way or the other, a bright shining future without human idiocy awaits us. Even if idiot humans don't die out, as Dresden Codak points out in The Kimiko Singularity, they will be rendered irrelevant.

Those who don't keep up will fall behind. This is not a happy message for those who worship stagnation and sameness. A group which includes all casual Star Trek fans. For those of us who care for progress though, it is a very uplifting message.

The future cannot give you relevance. You have to make yourself relevant by keeping up with it. So those humans who are satisfied being what they are will become irrelevant. And that includes all those who think they are magically privileged just by virtue of being human.

5 comments:

jimf said...

> Firstly, all AI are evil. NOMAD, Landru[, M-5, Vaal]. And if
> they're not evil then they're inimical: V'Ger, the whale Probe.
> Barclay-as-the-computer is obviously evil. . .

Ah, well, if you're including The Next Generation, then Commander
Data is an obvious counterexample. Though it is true that he
is kept carefully "bottled" -- he's presented as _sui generis_,
unduplicable since the "secrets" of his creation were lost,
and more limited (and "unexpandable") than might be expected.

> . . .a "scientific establishment" for Noonian Soong to rail
> at. . . And yes we know from Data's creator's name that he
> is evil, or at least was meant to be.

You mean it's meant to echo "Khan Noonian Singh"? ;->

> . . .genetic engineering is evil. . .collectives are evil. . .
> . . .clones are evil. . .transporters have been specifically [limited]. . .

This is all true, but the writers of Trek had a unique problem --
they had to juggle the existence of almost-magical technology
(transporters) with the continuation of a human society more-or-less
recognizable to contemporary TV audiences ("predicated on the
continuation of human idiocy", which lets out even
something as slightly outre as Greg Egan's _Diaspora_,
which even some SF fans can find impenetrable). So you have to forgive
some of these artificial limits as necessary dramatic conventions.

> One way or the other, a bright shining future without human idiocy
> awaits us. . .

Let's hope so. But depicting it on TV wouldn't have flown in 1966
with NBC, or even in 1987 with UPN. ;->

Speaking of AI, though -- while it's certainly true that the original
Trek was especially hard on smart computers, it's not quite clear
whether the ship's own "library computer" was intended to be
thought of as "intelligent". Whether or not, it was certainly
capable of serving as a deus-ex-machina to provide quick answers
to incredibly sophisticated problems.

KIRK: Let's find out where we stand. Computer.

COMPUTER: (a male voice) Ready.

KIRK: This is the Captain. Record security research, to be classified
under my voice print or Mister Scott's.

COMPUTER: Recorded.

KIRK: Produce all data relevant to the recent ion storm. Correlate following
hypothesis. Could a storm of such magnitude cause a power surge in the
transporter circuits creating a momentary interdimensional contact with
a parallel universe?

COMPUTER: Affirmative.

KIRK: At such a moment, could persons in each universe, in the act of beaming,
transpose with their counterparts in the other universe?

COMPUTER: Affirmative.

KIRK: Could conditions necessary to such an event be created artificially
using the ship's power?

COMPUTER: Affirmative.

KIRK: (inserts microtape) Record procedure.
(hands tape to Mr. Scott) Scotty, can you do it?

SCOTT: Not by myself. . .

("Mirror, Mirror") ;->

Richard Kulisz said...

> even something as slightly outre as Greg Egan's _Diaspora_, which even some SF fans can find impenetrable). So you have to forgive some of these artificial limits as necessary dramatic conventions.

How odd. I personally found Diaspora to be hopelessly antedeluvian, cabbalistic (all that "in the flesh" crap), and hateful of both intelligent life and progress.

Actually, I find all of Greg Egan's works fairly unimaginative elaborations of bogus physics and confusion of meta-hierarchies in metaphysics.

I was particularly disgusted by Schild's Ladder's thinly veiled fanboish attitude towards Loop Quantum Gravity, which isn't a physical or even scientific theory but just circle-jerking by disgruntled liars who couldn't take that their favourite subject had been rendered obsolete by real physics.

> So you have to forgive
some of these artificial limits as necessary dramatic conventions.

Necessary only to communicate with a planet full of mentally retarded monkeys. No, I don't think I'm in the mood to forgive anything at all.

I don't think I'll forgive you for entirely missing the point either. Future societies WILL NOT BE RECOGNIZABLE as such to idiots. Because human idiocy WILL DISAPPEAR. Or be rendered irrelevant. That IS my point.

All of your pathetic justifications for Star Trek are just circular reasoning. Star Trek is predicated on human stupidity because it has to be understood by stupid people to resemble the stupid societies made by stupid people. Is this not a tautology? It really ought to be.

And my point is: stupidity will disappear. Stupidity will not be allowed to exist in the future. Because technology will develop that will enable us (the few non-stupid people) to forcibly eradicate stupidity in the rest of you. And morality will never protect you because there is no moral right to be an idiot, to be insane, to be irrational, to be retarded or to refuse to learn. It simply isn't a legitimate moral choice.

Oh, and you would do well to never defend ST:TNG's writers. The guy at first tv drama wrote scathing reviews of not just the scripts or the shows but especially the writers. And yes it's about Enterprise, but guess what? The writers behind it were big wigs all the way back in TNG. They are SCUM.

Richard Kulisz said...

> it's not quite clear whether the ship's own "library computer" was intended to be thought of as "intelligent"

It was made VERY clear that the Enterprise's computer is NOT A PERSON and Picard is horrified at the thought of having a computer that has rights, free will and power of its own.

I don't give a shit about "expert systems" or "intelligence". I care about personhood. About artificial persons. That's what AI means to me and that's what it means to 99% of the population. And anyone who tries to argue otherwise by hairsplitting is simply a disingenious lying fuck.

The whole POINT of AI, what makes it remarkably and wonderful in people's minds, is that IT IS A PERSON. Just like the whole point of nanotech, what makes it remarkable and wonderful, is that it's molecular. And I really think we ought to take people, engineers and marketers, who twist words for their own selfish reasons and apply completely useless technical arguments to justify themselves should be EXECUTED. They should just fucking die.

Language is the first and most important tool of humanity. It was with language that homo sapiens sapiens made themselves into humans. It is out of language that consciousness was created. It is out of language that civilization was built. And it is language that sustains all of these things. An assault on language is an assault on humanity. People who deliberately do this should just die.

I cannot stress how grossly offensive to truth and progress it is for people to redefine words into uselessness for their own petty selfish reasons.

JS said...

Science fiction is mostly a pseudo-literature anyway, a combination of pulp-adventure cliches interrupted by lectures on technology, politics and any other issue beloved of the crank cranking out the pulp narrative. (Often enough on crank, but that's another issue .) The other pulp genres at least maintained some discipline and did not regard themselves as prophets and savior s of Humanity's Future: unreaderable though they are, no one bashing out a Shadow novella felt the need to weigh in on The Future and Man's Fate. T

Richard Kulisz said...

That's right, instead of talking about the future, the other genres cloaked themselves in the Eternal Verities of the Human Condition.

For instance, JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which is about racism, environmentalism, anti-technology and mindlessly obeying the will of the gods.

Or hey, how about Conan the Barbarian, which is about rape, pillage and murder? All the ultra-violence any psychopath could wish for.

You presume that there is ANY genre which is somehow by its nature *OR* by circumstance superior to other genres. A proposition I scorn.

There is something to be said even for Conan the Barbarian. And what's to be said is this: it fed the violent psychopaths' appetites so they were satiated and stayed in line.

Every genre aggrandizes itself. And every genre aggrandizes itself in accordance with the tastes of its readers. For science fiction, it's the future. For Conan, it's death. For romance it's "true love". For cop shows it's "realism". And so on and so forth.

You may elect to view this self-aggrandizement as cheap and tawdry. Sometimes it is. But to declare that it's unique to science-fiction is hardly worldly-wise, is it?