Humberto Maturana

Human beings versus machines, or machines as instruments of human designs?

The answers to these two questions would have been obvious years ago: Human beings, of course, machines are instruments of human design! But now days when we speak so much of progress, science and technology as if progress, science and technology were in themselves values to be venerated, there are many people that think that machines as they become more and more complex and intelligent through human design, may in fact become alive so that they may supplant us as a natural outcome of that very venerated progress and expansion of intelligence. Also many people seems to think that evolution is changing its nature so that technology is becoming the guiding force in the flow of the cosmic change in relation to us. I do not hold this view. I do not look at progress, science or technology as if they were values in themselves, nor do I think that biological or cosmic evolution is changing its nature or character. I think that the question that we human beings must face is that of what do we want to happen to us, not a question of knowledge or progress. The question that we must face is not about the relation of biology with technology, or about the relation between art and technology, nor about the relation between knowledge and reality, nor even about whether or not metadesign shapes our brains. I think that the question that we must face at this moment of our history is about our desires and about whether we want or not to be responsible of our desires.

I wish to speak about this question, but in order to do so I want first to say a few things about living systems, human beings, technology, reality, robots, design and art as the general fundaments for what I shall say in relation to desires and responsibility. Let us proceed.

Continue with: Introduction - Part I - Part II - Part III

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