Friday, 29 August 2014

Paradox In Brain Wave

In Brain Wave, increased intelligence makes manual workers want to quit work. Many do, causing chaos. However:

others realize that the work needs to be done;
still others accept that, in the immediate situation, their work remains their means of livelihood;
meanwhile, increased intelligence generates automation and robotics that make unwanted work redundant.

In fact, economic necessity and coercion cease. After a transition period:

food is distributed free;
no one is attached to property or territory;
scientists, if they want to remain scientists, study whatever interests them;
superior technology is abundant;
there is no competition either for profits or for employment;
there are enough volunteers to administer society, I think until it no longer needs administration;
there is genuine concern for the less mentally gifted;
these individuals are guided to new colonies led by, e.g., a former moron who now has a pre-change average IQ.

My question is: how soon can we reach this stage of social development even without increased intelligence? Continued technological advances should not be a problem.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

As you know too well (Smiles), I am extremely skeptical that with or without enhanced intellgence, mankind will attain the kind of idyllic society we see at the end of BRAIN WAVE. Not that I object in the least to Poul Anderson drawing out to the utmost possible conclusions the consequences of the ideas he speculates about in the book.

I do think the anomie and despair we see in "Quixote and the Windmill" is more likely to be what we actually will see if technology becomes so advanced that most of the goods and needs of life are provided free or very cheaply and huge numbers of men and women are simply no longer needed for any kind of work. Most of us simply will NOT be able to be top notch theoretical scientists, engineers, philosophers, theologians, mystics, artists, or even chess players! Or WANT to be those things.

So, I find what we see in the four HARVEST OF STARS books about the unhappiness and frustration of mankind in the Solar System more realistic even tho the technology seen there is very much like what we see in BRAIN WAVE. And of course one of the themes of those books is how the artificially created super intelligences of the sophotects were trying, for the kindest possible (but mistaken) reasons to keep mankind swaddled in a smothering cocoon of pointless and powerless luxury and idleness.

GENESIS shows Poul Anderson speculating about a frustrated human race deliberately deciding to die out and become extinct rather than continue to live a life of impotent and pointless luxury. And THEN the ruling artificial super intelligence of Earth a billion years from now bringing back mankind from extinction.