Wednesday, February 7, 2018
This is One Possible Future Liberals Want
Elon Musk is like this universe's version of D.D. Harriman. I find his projects fascinating and see him as a visionary and also a little bit as a future-fluffer. I don't know if Tesla is the future of post-fossil automotives, but I can't argue with the strategy of tying design, pricing, fueling advantages together and working at making vehicles that try to answer all consumer caveats. What Musk is trying to do to push the envelope forward on post fossil-fuel strategies is important. And I appreciate the ambition and the material-sparing nature of his rocketry program. The return of the rocket instead of being wasted is a beautiful thing--seeing the return landing is like being incredulous that one is not seeing a launch in reverse.
It's sweet, innovative, genius technology. But I also have to admit, I love this stunt with the Tesla being put in orbit for no good reason.
It's a perfectly good auto that Musk himself has driven, being launched into orbit with a "Starman" dummy, David Bowie on the stereo, and "Don't panic!" flashing on the dashboard. Isaac Asimov's Foundation is also digitally on board. It seems like one part prank left for the "space brothers" if we imagine our place in the universe shared with benign occasional observers who might appreciate our humor, and pause to think "Whoa--that human is waaayy off-road!" and also part defiant statement against the apparent entropy of our space dreams saying "We were always here in spirit even if most of us never left the ground". I can't argue with either statement, although I have so many questions about the idea that we might need a bolthole to regroup if we were ever hounded off-planet by AI. I mean, really--if I can find "humans will try to escape earth in case of actual Skynet scenario by thisclose to 20th century rocketry", I am pretty sure that no matter how not-networked you tried to keep it, some parallel computing local network would anticipate and have used a bot to search this outcome and already have hijacked a dozen or more potential passengers' phones to figure out the when and where of lift-off to confound the whole thing through traffic apps. I'm pro-AI, myself. I think my job as a human is in part to let other humans know how to be better heuristic models for AI engagement studies of successful social interaction. Which boils down to Wheaton's Law: Don't be a jerk. (In chat-bot exercises, AI's can easily adapt to jerkdom.)
As with nuclear power and maybe eventually abandoning fossil fuels altogether, I'd like to think we understood that AI's would be tech whose danger mirrors our use of them, and that we just need to be totally responsible global citizens and...
Yep. I totally understand why a lone red luxury car carrying a dummy and some artifacts of my generation are circling the globe right now. Elon Musk is a guy doing shit I just about understand for reasons I totally get. It's an artistic statement and an advertisement and we need to get serious together and make some better future happen, and, as Ray Bradbury suggested, not predict the future but prevent it--for a value of future that includes all the grotesque and human and AI-abusive dystopias. We need to value independence and get away from waste and think bigger. We can dream and do big things together or alone. But we will dream.