Peak Manifesto

Peter Jones Human Values, Transformation Design, Wu Wei

AIGA recently posted a review of the surge of new interest in designer screeds, Manifesto Mania. My search for new manifesti did not find anything significant from designers this time, but just yesterday the Art of Hosting list pointed me to The Evolutionary Manifesto, which challenges the most overarching doctrine I have seen yet. Although in some ways it reads like a framework of new age principles: At the heart of the evolutionary worldview is the fact that evolution has a trajectory—it heads in a particular direction. However, evolution on Earth will not advance beyond a certain point unless it is driven consciously and intentionally. If this transition to intentional evolution does not occur, evolution on this planet will stall, and humanity will not contribute positively to the future evolution of life in the universe—we will be a failed evolutionary experiment. The document has theoretical and normative punch and breaks new ground in systems thinking.The author, a cognitive scientist (evolution of consciousness) from Brussels Vrije Universiteit, firmly grounds the position in scientific knowledge and reason. I’m on board, and see …

Flash: Money buys happiness!

Peter Jones Human Values

Who says? According to a Harvard/UBC study published in Science, so that’s about as authoritative as possible. How so? The title Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness, tells you something about it. In an HBS interview, co-author Michael Norton explains: “Intentional activities—practices in which people actively and effortfully choose to engage—may represent a promising route to lasting happiness. Supporting this premise, our work demonstrates that how people choose to spend their money is at least as important as how much money they make.” The crisp abstract does not read like a new-age nostrum Although much research has examined the effect of income on happiness, we suggest that how people spend their money may be at least as important as how much money they earn. Specifically, we hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself. Providing converging evidence for this hypothesis, we found that spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness both cross-sectionally (in a nationally representative survey study) and longitudinally (in a field study of …

Joseph Weizenbaum – A humane vision for technology

Peter Jones Human Values

Joe Weizenbaum died at age 85 last week in Berlin, and a few obscure technology news services have published the story. MIT posted its lauds for their alumnus in a press release yesterday, but his passing has not lit up the news wires.  As with many issues in the 21st century, it’s up to the blogs to inform and comment.  A creator of computer languages and artificial intelligence systems and theories, Weizenbaum was probably known for inventing one of the first AI systems (1962), the ELIZA program. ELIZA was an interactive dialogue  process based on Rogerian non-directive psychotherapy (“So you are saying you are angry? Tell me more …”)  While may seem like a crude approach by 2008 standards, this was nearly 50 years ago.  As with many scientific leaders from his generation (who personally experienced WWII and the Great Depression), he grew skeptical of technological accomplishments and became a passionate advocate for humane applications of technology. In 1988 he was awarded the Norbert Weiner prize for professional and social responsibility by CPSR, the professional society that sponsors the Participatory …

Cylons are in the pipeline

Peter Jones Human Values

The push for strong AI must have a spiritual basis, because after trying and failing to achieve “AGI” from Turing to Neural Nets, most researchers learned something about the human beings they were attempting to model. If it could be done, as Battlestar Galactica warns, we would burn many of our bizarre biases and belief systems into their firmware. Cylons are monotheists, after all, just like people in most other organized belief systems. The Singular Question of Human vs. Machine Has a Spiritual Side Wall Street Journal (09/19/07) P. B1; Gomes, Lee There are people who believe there will one day be a point of “singularity” when human intelligence is overtaken by machine intelligence, and they speculate that a new, super-intelligent organism cross-bred from man and machine could be one of the monumental developments this singularity could bring about. Lee Gomes writes that singularity advocates talk at length about the need for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is seen as a key singularity milestone. Yet he says AI researchers have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to achieve this goal since …