Autonomous Tools (a fragment)

story © Michael Betancourt, June 22, 2013 all rights reserved.


While the "Luddite Fallacy" clearly applies to some kinds of mechanization--the implementation of machine tools and automated processes which amplify and create efficiencies—the creation of autonomous tools raises fundamental questions about the assumption that new technological innovations that eliminate human labor necessarily simply shift it to other sites within the economy. This assumed validity for the Luddite Fallacy remains true if and only if the invention of autonomous tools do not function in a fashion similar to slavery—that the “robot” (a word derived from the title of Karel Čapek’s 1920 play which means in Czech “serf labor")—does not displace or entirely replace human labor because it is a conscious agent capable of performing the same essential role—the intellectual component of facture—currently held exclusively by human labor. This agency is the difference between an automated process and an autonomous one: the automated process requires the oversight provided by human agency, an autonomous one, by definition, does not (“autonomy” means there is no required oversight).

Copyright © Michael Betancourt  June 22, 2013  all rights reserved.

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