God and Golem, Inc.
The main crux here is creator versus created; God playing a game with the Devil; man playing checkers with a computer. Where is the line between alive and not alive? If you go low enough, the molecules aren't alive. While these types of questions are philosophically interesting, the more pragmatic are already (circa 1960) using learning machines, often without understanding the potentially devastating consequences; the machines act completely literal, unapologetically producing monkey paw like results, with no wiggle room for nuances in input that are second nature to humans. These people, gadget-worshipers, see the learning machine as a slave, perfectly obedient, without recognizing the potential dangers that, in hindsight, we can see all around us today.
The Human Use of Human Beings
The same way signals can control an electronic machine, messages can control the human machine; feedback can amplify or attenuate these messages for maximal impact. Messages delivered via the global communication network beget a world state where those that control of the media will compel cooperation or ruin to all who stand against it. These controlling messages can be hidden in the white noise of unneeded communication, which will give rise to a proliferation of useless communication and will likely dumb down of both sender and receiver. Eventually the machine delivering the messages, through automation [AI], will start to make decisions on its own and we might very well find ourselves making a bargain with a monkey paw machine that won't understand our nuance delivering us straight into hell. Alternatively, the machine may never be out from under the thumb of the ruling class yet through their lust for control lead us to a different, albeit irrelevantly so, hell.
Cybernetics - or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine
General systems theory, often called cybernetics, is concerned with, most generally, mathematically modeling feedback loops in mechanical, biological, ecological, economic, and other kinds of systems. The idea was birthed by the author, Norbert Weiner, with collaboration of his colleagues around Princeton University. These scientists, recognizing the importance in what they were only beginning to understand, employed the assistance of a plethora of other scientists through various venues, the most famous being what are today known as the Macy Conferences, a multidisciplinary conference where ideas, hitherto unrelated, were unified. On the biological front, man is viewed through the lens of cybernetics as a clockwork automata, a biological machine, a golem, that can be manipulated by varying social and environmental conditions. The social implications of such a view are all pervasive today in the realm of media, religion, education, and any other aspect of life one might consider; from the benign advertiser to the power hungry politician, cybernetics, for better or worse, has been and will continue to shape the world around us.
Out of Control - The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World
It begins by describing various distributed natural ecology systems, like a swarm of bees and their beehive, as vivisystems that which can be the understood as the basis for designing artificial systems. The evolutionary systems of Darwin lead into the artificial evolution of Dawkins' Biomorph Land, computer viruses, and genetic engineering. Finally we get to see some of the ex-WIRED editors techo-utopia by exploring things like virtual worlds and e-money. While the title of the book leads you to believe one thing, the truth is that the entire book hints immodestly at cybernetic, bottom up, herded, predictive, Macy Conference inspired control. Overall it feels like a rough outline of all-too-likely technocracy of the future that employs novelty and pleasure to conceal its true oligarchical totalitarian control behind a smile.
From Versailles to Cybernetics
The most important things in Bateson's life, as he tells it, were the Treaty of Versailles and the cybernetic 'breakthrough'. All mammals, and thus humans, are concerned only with the patterns of relationship that give rise to abstractions like love, hate, and trust. The Treaty of Versailles was full of deceit to demoralize the Germans and should have been seen to provide the foundation for with WW2 sprung from. We must understand how we got to the present to have any chance at understanding the present. The 'rules of the game' that were laid down with the Treaty of Versailles and the advent of cybernetics need to be changed before the computers lead us into a more rigid world.