Technology and human life:
Book review: The coevolution by Edward Ashford Lee ISBN: 978-0-262-04393-9
Pick one and only one topic
1. Critique of digital creationism; What he means by it, how it relates to evolutionary theory, why does it not capture the process of technological development, why he thinks it’s important to critique
2. Why not a Turing machine
3. Why does EAL not think we will be made irrelevant by machines (need some theory of the limitation of digital machines) or transcended by implants/cognitive prostheses into a post-human species but rather co-evolve with our technology (that coevolution can be understood as obligate and beneficial symbiosis and needs to be specified carefully)?
4. What do we better understand by transposing the properties of life (discussed in chapter 2) to digital machines? Where can this “analogy” be misleading?
5. Why is the engineer understood here not in terms of top-down design but as a source of mutation in complex evolutionary process?
6. What do you make of the analogy of the evolution of digital technology to both biological evolution and Dawkins’ memetic evolution (add theory of punctuated equilibrium).
7. Will be able to hold digital living beings accountable? Chapter 10?
8. What is the nature and importance of feedback? How is ML based on feedback in a way that GOFAI was not? What kinds of feedback are humans capable of that machines are as of yet no? Chapters 4 and 5
9. Why does EAL see problems as pathologies rather than as alien attacks? Why does he describe problems as pathologies? What are some likely pathologies? How could they be handled?
10. Should we lay more blame on engineers for not following good design principles for pathological technological developments than EAL recommends?
11. Is there a tension in the book between his worries about what I shall call human digital distractionism, e.g. unleashing viruses or ransomware, as the greatest threat of technology and his critique of digital creationism, which suggests humans don’t develop technologies in a top-down way.
12. In the coevolutionary process EAL also pays attention to the ways in which the human will evolve and have already evolved. How does he understand this side of the evolutionary process?
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