3.3 Meatware

carcass

The word ‘meatware’ was added to The Urban Dictionary in 2003 by a ‘MrAngryForNoReason’.

It’s definition is ‘the human element in a technological system. The hardware is the system, software runs on the system, the meatware is the user of the system’.

Meatware was a mildly amusing term twelve years ago.

Today, as we emerge as digital humans, our ecosystem can be seen through new lenses and joined-up perspectives.

We can observe inter-relationships to other elements in that ecosystem.

We can begin to appreciate how what we do, and what any creature does, makes a difference.

It has been said that ‘the march of human progress is strewn with dead animals.

In this emerging, coded world, our ethicality is a script that we run.

And contempt for other elements in the ecosystem is a feedback loop, a dealbreaker, that short-circuits the quality of our interactions.

Artificial intelligence, the new ingredient in the planet’s overall food chain, is on the cusp of hacking into the ultimate, previously unassailable, domain of the human mind.

And maybe in that context, being classified as meatware isn’t a great prospect.

It’s worth considering if the ethicality we have meted out to animals, the way we treat meatware down the pecking order from us, holds a portent of the future for the digital human.

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies is asking this question.

It is considering if the price we pay for the Internet of Things will be we are skewered by it.

Marcelo Rinesi at the Institute writes that ‘human existence may indeed by redefined as living with a continual vague dread’.

Our relationship with AI may demand feeble compliance, with digital humans as its dumb animals.

Code may usher in a very malicious world unless we put our human conscience to this question.

In China, the signs are already there this is not an entirely idle spectre.

AI may treat us just the way we treat animals.

After all, we’re programming it.

Published October 13, 2015 by | 3.0 'Is' and 'other' | , | 1 comment

One thought on “3.3 Meatware”

  1. Best Beloved and I have been binge-watching Person of Interest which posits this very thing as the Evil-to-Be-Overcome.

    It’s not a fear I’ve suffered from, much, having grown up with Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics, and assuming folks would be smart enough to build them into whatever AIs we come up with.

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