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Is there a technological imperative?

Debate Information

Position: For
I am formally inviting @Liefie to debate against technological imperatives. I will be posting the for argument shortly.


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After the 24-hour voting period, the winning side is determined.
At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation,
Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root.
Through a long process of evolution this life 
developed into the human race.
Humans conquered fire, built complex societies and advanced technology .

All of that so we can argue about nothing.



Debra AI Prediction

Against
Predicted To Win
56%
Likely
44%
Unlikely

Details +


For:

0% (0 Points)


Against:

0% (0 Points)



Votes: 0


Debate Type: Traditional Debate



Voting Format: Casual Voting

Opponent: Liefie

Rounds: 3

Time Per Round: 1 Hour Per Round


Voting Period: 24 Hours


Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Voting



Post Argument Now Debate Details +



    Arguments


  • Round 1 | Position: For
    Happy_KillbotHappy_Killbot 5060 Pts   -  
    What is technology?

    Technology loosely defined is any tool, system, tequniques, process, or invention which serves a specific function in service of the goals and intentions of the entity which utilizes that technology. It is therefore tautologically true that any goal arbitrarily chosen might benefit or be better served if technology is used in pursuit of that goal. This simple, irrefutable truth is the cornerstone on which technological imperatives are founded. Any goals which humans have are virtually unattainable without the use of technology, and thus the development of new technology is a prerequisite for new goals, and old goals alike.

    What is a Technological imperative?

    Technological imperatives is the view that technological progress is both inevitable and useful and ought to be adopted for the good of humanity and human endeavors. Technological progress is inevitable, specifically because the discovery of knowledge is inevitable. When a new truth is uncovered, it might be utilized by enterprising individuals in order to obtain their ends, be that the saving of lives, the bettering of one's health, prosperity, community, or pleasure. Without developing new technology, we are often locked into the status-quo, such that any progress becomes difficult once a local maximum is achieved. The well-being and high standard of living in our modern society might be directly attributed to the development of technology.

    Why is Technology moral?

    While it might be tempting to simply point out that technology can be used for evil purposeless, this would need to assume that there is an objective moral standard on which decisions might be made. If there is no such standard, and morals are either subjective or intersubjective (culturally defined) then this critique would simply fall through, as it would imply that any entity utilizing technology for "evil" means is simply achieving their own subjective morals ends through the utilization of technology. If an individual means to stop such interaction from occurring, they might better decide to prevent such action taken against them, which is best achieved, you guessed it, by utilizing technology. If one is willing to suggest that morals are objective and thus technology can be used in evil ways, they would need to demonstrate this fact.

    Meta-ethical stance on technology?

    The fact that technology might always be used in support of one's goals implies that any society or individual who utilizes and develops technology will have an advantage over anyone or anything else which does not. Thus, it stands to reason that these goals might be accomplished more readily, and at an increased rate. In the long run this provides a powerful pragmatic advantage to technology which will mean that these goals are more pervasive within a society as they are achieved. To give an analogy to demonstrate this point, consider that a privative hunter who uses a sharpened stick to kill his prey will be better equipped to capture game when compared to another who uses only their hands, all else being equal. This means that this hunter is going to have an easier time hunting and thus survive better. This hunter is however nothing when compared to a farmer who raises domesticated animals for the exact same reasons. Applying this reasoning to today, we might observe that many technologies aid us when we seek to achieve the things we want. Computers help us to do complex mathematical work, communicate, and record information. Modern medicine allows us to live longer, happier, healthier lives which is fundamental to almost every person's goals, or is directly in service of whatever morals or values they hold, whatever they might be. Even if you are a luddite and seek the abolition of technology you will have a difficult time achieving this goal without using some technology. Thus, technology is always critical to your goals, therefore there is a technological imperative.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation,
    Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root.
    Through a long process of evolution this life 
    developed into the human race.
    Humans conquered fire, built complex societies and advanced technology .

    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • Round 1 | Position: Against
    LiefieLiefie 37 Pts   -  

    In this discussion, we will be looking at the technological imperative as the philosophy that propagates that new technologies are inevitable and essential and that they must be developed and accepted for the good of society [1]. Here we are being told a story, and the story is this, that the development of new technologies is unavoidable, that it is of utmost importance, that the development of these technologies is within our control and will contribute to social good – the end of this story puts humans in the driver seat, where technology is used to solve life problems. This story is not true, the problem is that there is a disconnect between the story told and reality. And for this reason I say no, there is no technological imperative, and nor should we allow there to be one.

    In this debate I do not deny the existence of technology, in opposing this motion, my aim is to prove that there is no technological imperative as per definition above, and advocate that we not allow society to reach a point where we have such an imperative. I will also show why it would be detrimental for humanity to have one.

    Reality

    We develop new technologies because we want them, so making the assertion that their development is unavoidable is not true. What we’re basically saying is that we have no control over what we create – which is not the case. Experts in the field of  AI point to a reality that says technologies are improving at such a rapid and exponential rate that no expert in it’s field can predict what the future looks like, “it could be amazing or apocalyptic” [2]. This refutes that we’ll be in control of the types of technologies developed once technology develops an intelligence that allows it to develop new technologies, we are not there and should not allow ourselves to get there.

    For the sake of being positive, let’s forget the potential doomsday AI fiction stories, and look at the good technology is doing now. Our world has seen an exponential growth in the world population since the first industrial revolution [3], on the surface, this is a positive thing for humanity, where new technologies in the medical field have reduced mortality rates, increased the ease and rate at which we produce more technologies. A deeper reality is that what we see as blessings, are a curse in disguise and might be too late before we realize it. Earth is a closed system, with a limited carrying capacity. When the first plastic was produced, no one could predict it’s biodegradability, and are now faced with a problem that lasts 450 years per plastic, no expert can predict the biodegradability of the chemical compositions that will be made if we allow technology to grow, and climate change is one of humanity’s biggest problems. Couple this with the growing population, then we are left with a bigger problem then when we started off.

     

    By definition, there is no technological imperative because we have control over whether we make new technologies or not. There is no technological imperative seeing that it is the development of new technologies is unpredictable and therefore cannot possibly within our control. In 2021 this is not the case, and humans can keep the status quo by not allowing technology to eventually having a mind of it’s own.

     


    Resources:

    [1] https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Technological+Imperative

    [2] https://www.britannica.com/technology/singularity-technology

     [3] https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/world-population-since-10000-bce-ourworldindata-series?time=earliest..2019

  • Round 2 | Position: For
    Happy_KillbotHappy_Killbot 5060 Pts   -  
    @Liefie ;

    Thank you for the well-written critique & counter narrative presented in a professional way. In this round, I would like to cross-examine your views, and provide some commentary before providing a rebuttal and closing statements in the final round.

    ...and advocate that we not allow society to reach a point where we have such an imperative.
    I would argue, that this threshold was reached long before humans ever developed robust societies, and in fact has existed at least as long as early hominids were using tools, thus it is far to late to claim that we should not allow a society where such an imperative exists. As in the example I gave in my opening statement, even a hunter-gatherer benefits from the use of technology such that it is of critical importance to their goals, even if this goal is as simple as survival in the wilderness.

    While it might be true that such an individual might explicitly or implicitly choose to not develop technology, would you argue that someone who decides to use technology has no advantage over those who do not?

    Second, would you argue that it is likely or unlikely that people will develop technology intentionally 
    Earth is a closed system, with a limited carrying capacity. When the first plastic was produced, no one could predict it’s biodegradability, and are now faced with a problem that lasts 450 years per plastic, no expert can predict the biodegradability of the chemical compositions that will be made if we allow technology to grow, and climate change is one of humanity’s biggest problems. Couple this with the growing population, then we are left with a bigger problem then when we started off.
    Do you think that it is possible in "maintaining the course" or in other words, developing no new technologies to solve the problems you have mentioned above?

    Along these same lines, do you think that it is likely that maintaining the course is going to result in a solution to solve these problems you have mentioned above?

    By definition, there is no technological imperative because we have control over whether we make new technologies or not. There is no technological imperative seeing that it is the development of new technologies is unpredictable and therefore cannot possibly within our control. In 2021 this is not the case, and humans can keep the status quo by not allowing technology to eventually having a mind of it’s own.
    If there is not complete unanimity in the explicit choice to not develop new technologies, would this imply that there is a technological imperative as at least one person is actively developing new technologies & tequniques?

    You seem to contradict yourself between the second and third sentences. How can you reconcile the views that we both decide when to create & use technology, and then also hold that technology is unpredictable and cannot possibly be within our control?

    Finally, do you think that the status-quo a reasonable and long-term state of global affairs to promote human flourishing and individual well-being, or is it bound to end in tragedy and/or destruction?
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation,
    Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root.
    Through a long process of evolution this life 
    developed into the human race.
    Humans conquered fire, built complex societies and advanced technology .

    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • Round 2 | Position: Against
    LiefieLiefie 37 Pts   -  

    In your proposition you state that because we discover new knowledge, it is inevitable that technology also develops, this is an incorrect direct relationship that is drawn. We develop new technologies because we want to solve problems and for various other reasons such as convenience, and we go out in search of information that will help develop the thing we want. We don’t develop because we find new information. We have control over how far technology goes, not new information. Someone who decides to use technology has an advantage, no doubt. At this point my point of contention is human agency in the matter, the technological imperative tells us that we cannot avoid developing new technologies, I argue that we can if we want to and if we see it taking a turn that is not beneficial to humanity – because we are in control of it’s development.

    It is likely that people will develop technology intentionally.

    I was in a rush and didn’t state the point properly. Humanity is at a stage where we have control over technology, and we can use it to serve our goals/purposes. What we need to do is keep on developing technologies that will always be in our control – hence, we also still have choice to stop developing should we wish to. Developing a type of technology that does not need human input to function and solve problems cannot be compared with technologies that have been developed in the past. Previous industrial revolutions produced technologies that we’re completely dependent on human input for functioning and solving problems, and therefore can always be used to support one’s goals. A technology with a mind of it’s own does not always work in support of your goals – a good example is a self driving car in an accident and the decision it has to make, sometimes it’s not going to be in your best interest. Technologies that are out of our control will seal our fate to the technological imperative since development of these technologies will not be avoidable as we most likely wont be in charge of that process – seeing that those technologies will have a higher intelligence than ours.

    Calling something an imperative, we’re basically saying it has to happen – we have no control. This is not what we want, and right now it’s not the case because we do have control. The development of technologies like AI leaves us at the mercy of external forces, and once these start running the show, then the era of technological imperative will come into existence. We are not at the stage where AI is running the show, the continuing to develop this type of technology leaves us in a situation the cannot be predictable. What I meant to focus on between those two sentences was one of the defining factors that make the technological imperative true. That factor being it’s unavoidability, where I try to show that at this stage we have control, and can switch the flip whenever we want to, but if we allow technology to go a particular direction – intelligent – then we lose control, and therefore enter the imperative era. Forgive me mixing things up there. I hope this is a bit better.

    I think it’s to promote human flourishing and individual well – being.

  • Round 3 | Position: For
    Happy_KillbotHappy_Killbot 5060 Pts   -  
    @Liefie ;

    Thank you for the positive and rational debate, you are more than welcome here.
    We develop new technologies because we want to solve problems and for various other reasons such as convenience, and we go out in search of information that will help develop the thing we want.
    I would disagree with this for the simple reason that scientific knowledge is not derived a-priori. To put it simply, we can't know something until it is proven thus we can't apply specific knowledge to the development of technology, thus the scientific advancement needs to come first. If this was not the case, we would not need to do science at all as we could know things directly.
    A technology with a mind of it’s own does not always work in support of your goals – a good example is a self driving car in an accident and the decision it has to make, sometimes it’s not going to be in your best interest.  Technologies that are out of our control will seal our fate to the technological imperative since development of these technologies will not be avoidable as we most likely wont be in charge of that process – seeing that those technologies will have a higher intelligence than ours.
    The car would still need to be programed to do the driving task, so even tough it is making independent decisions it does not imply that those decisions are outside of human control, as they were placed their by human creators. The same is true of advanced AI, as whatever goals & directives it has will ultimately be a product of its design, so even if the users have no true understanding of how it operates and what it does, it would still be in service of the goals of the creators.
    Calling something an imperative, we’re basically saying it has to happen – we have no control. This is not what we want, and right now it’s not the case because we do have control. The development of technologies like AI leaves us at the mercy of external forces, and once these start running the show, then the era of technological imperative will come into existence. We are not at the stage where AI is running the show, the continuing to develop this type of technology leaves us in a situation the cannot be predictable. What I meant to focus on between those two sentences was one of the defining factors that make the technological imperative true. That factor being it’s unavoidability, where I try to show that at this stage we have control, and can switch the flip whenever we want to, but if we allow technology to go a particular direction – intelligent – then we lose control, and therefore enter the imperative era. Forgive me mixing things up there. I hope this is a bit better.
    It seems you are confusing technological imperatives with the development of AI specifically. Even if you want to claim that an AI is a free agent, I would point out that other such agents which you don't control and at who's mercy you are at already exist, and in fact there are 7 billion of them. If people do not qualify in your opinion as adequately dangerous, I might point to human run organizations that effectively operate as super-intelligent entities. A company already has its own agency, is smarter by far than the average individual, and can not be controlled by any one person. Even though they people and organizations lack many of the abilities that an AI might have, that would do nothing to change the fact that these entities and even an AI agent itself has a technological imperative of it's own, and no longer constitutes technology due to its status as a free-agent.

    I would like to note that all of the problems we face today have technological solutions such that they could not be adequately solved if we "maintain the course" or do not develop new technologies specifically geared at solving these issues, including AI. Plastic pollution might be solved by developing plastic alternatives, and genetically engineering microbes that can metabolize plastic to produce a more robust ecology that evolution would take millennia to develop. Our current fossil-fuel technology is a direct contributor to climate change, and thus maintaining the course is almost guaranteed to result in ecological disaster. Green alternatives and high-tech power production like fusion are themselves represent technologies that are essential to alleviate much of this issue. Without technology and technical development, it is difficult if not impossible to solve these and new emerging issues. Thus, it is imperative that we develop technology in order to solve these issues.

    If enough people are actively developing technology, then it stands to reason that they will likely succeed and thus that would be adequate to assert that technological developments are inevitable. This combined with the ability to utilize a technology to better enable one's own goals means that there is an imperative to develop new technology. Thank you for your time.
    Liefie
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation,
    Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root.
    Through a long process of evolution this life 
    developed into the human race.
    Humans conquered fire, built complex societies and advanced technology .

    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • Round 3 | Position: Against
    LiefieLiefie 37 Pts   -  

    It is now 2:45am here in South Africa, and it’s an absolute pleasure engaging in my first formal debate with  @Happy_Killbot, you’re an absolute legend, thank you for this debate.

    Unavoidable, essential and developed for the good of humanity. These are the three conditions that need to be met for us to agree that there is a technological imperative. It can be avoided because we have control. It is not essential, because we can survive without it. Not all technology is for the good of humanity, and even those that are developed for the good of humanity contribute to humanity’s biggest problems (climate-change, overpopulation etc). By definition, there is no technological imperative seeing that these conditions are not met.

    AI is currently built as entities that complete certain tasks for humans [1]. They are systems that act on behalf of a principle that has been programmed, so they can be called “agents”, but not called “free” – yet. We need to make sure this stays this way. In Pew Research Center’s Artificial Intelligence and the future of Humans report they outline some of the risks, concerns and challenges shared by a variety of expert respondents about how progress in AI and it’s applications might affect humanity, five key areas of concern were human agency, data abuse, job loss, dependence lock-in, and destabilization of  society [2]. This type of technology will keep us alive, but we will not have the freedom to live on our terms – that’s no freedom by the way. The more new technologies we create to solve problems, the more problems we also create in turn.

    There is no technological imperative, and we should ensure that it stays this way. I am proud to oppose.

     

    Sources:

    [1] https://aipulse.org/ai-agency/

    [2] https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/12/10/artificial-intelligence-and-the-future-of-humans/

    Happy_Killbot
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