Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Victorian Singularity appears to us that we are ourselves creating our own successors; we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenious contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race...
Day by day, however, the machines are gaining ground upon us; day by day we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly philosophic mind can for a moment question.
Our opinion is that war to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species.
From "Darwin Among the Machines," an 1863 essay by critic and novelist Samuel Butler. Butler was not the first of his era to express anxieties about machine uprisings; a few decades earlier, a ballad about a rogue steam-powered prosthetic arm and a similar one about a mechanical leg had already been written.

No comments:

Post a Comment