"King of the Gadget-Hive"

Charlie Stross rambles entertainingly about the future:

Complaints that the modern world is unnatural or artificial in some way miss the point; the world we live in is anthropogenic, we made it. We didn't have any collective choice in the matter, either: short of discarding tools, clothes, and ultimately language there's no way back to the Garden of Eden from here. [...]

Eusocial animals like ants, termites, bees, or naked mole rats, exhibit curious behaviour; their societies are stratified by role, with workers, warriors, and reproductive castes that may differ morphologically from one another. Humans aren't so obviously specialized, but if you consider our machines as part of our extended phenotype, it begins to look that way: if our machines become intentionally driven, and they're tailored to play different roles in our society, then you could argue that we occupy some kind of privileged position in a hive-relationship with tools that require our continued safety and comfort in order to further their own reproduction.

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5 Responses:

  1. simillionth says:

    on contrary to some devastating effects, inbreeding among our extended phenotype results in more efficient machines..

    • tiger0range says:

      A lot of species inbreed. Certain hive insects are for all intents and purpouses clones of 99% of each other. Some are functionally hermaphrodites with occasional sexual reproduction between different individual.

      Plus, machines have an external genetic code, they are actually more like viruses...

  2. ronbar says:

    Just don't forget to include the laws of robotics in their boot PROMs or the extended phenotype might quickly tire of our privileged position and take decisive action.

    As bad as most of Asimov's work is, I've come to regard his laws of robotics as an explicit statement of the master/slave, royal/subject, imperialist/colonist, colonist/aboriginee relationship as defined by the "superior".