Summary of the Chapter "Hell" from Radical Evolution uk
“Hell” is the fifth chapter of the bestseller Radical Evolution written by the reporter of Washington Post Joel Garreau. The aim of this book is to reveal the main consequences of the industrial revolution for our society. By the way of introducing the scientific evidences and their analysis using the thoughts of the authoritative researchers, Garreau represents the current stage of human’s evolution as the turning point of the development of the world society. Combining the scientific facts with the appeal to the vivid critical narration, the author made this book quite persuasive in order to convince the audience in the importance of the discussed issue.
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The fifth chapter of the book has been called “Hell” as it mainly deals with the negative consequences of the technological revolution. The chapter starts with the discussion of the main issues of “Hell Scenario” from Bill Joy’s point of view. Being one of the creators of the Internet and other modern informational programs that supply all the world community, he realizes the damaging power of technological process that can lead to the total destruction of the human race. Being a talented programmer, he has always been absorbed with the process of technological development. However, after meeting Ray Kurzweil on the Telecosm Conference on September 17, 1998, he changed his life priorities concerning the role of technological revolution. As Kurzweil claimed that in future machines would become conscious and suppress the humanity, Joy became concerned with the possibility of this fact. Most of all, he was baffled because of Kurzwel’s theory that in future human’s role will be limited to the role of home animals whose lives are totally dependent on the elite possessing the technological priority. It became the main Joy’s concern to which he devoted all his researching works. The basis of Joy’s system of moral values was the Prime Directive from the Gene Roddenberry’s book Star Tick that implied the idea of the incapability of the human’s rce to cope with that technological revolution. This directive shapes Joy’s understanding of the future as the place where humans but not robots will control the world. In order to alert people about the possible technological disaster, Joy has written his work Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us. The main idea of this book was to discuss the fatal consequences of the biotech threat that makes the society face the self-reproductive viruses that can destroy the world ().
However, Garreau does not tend to accept everything Joy’s said. He analyses the main reason why do people in different times tend to believe in the possible fatal disaster for the whole civilization. One of the main reasons is the guilt that people can subconsciously feel for their achievements. He provides the examples of Armageddon in different periods from the myths, Bible, and the theories of the Middle Ages. One of such works that possesses the features of the modern Hell Scenario is Francis Bacon’s fable “The New Atlantis” as it pictured the civilization that was aware about the possible dangerous consequences of their beneficiaries (qtd. in Garreau 150). He also discussed the world literature heritage of Huxly, Orwell and other authors who wrote anti-utopia depicting the destructive force of the information era and its technologies. All these works created an image of the future where humans will not be able to control their lives. The audience is not to believe this. As Garreau claims, the main function of Armageddon literature is to provide the dreadful picture in order to warn people about their possible future. For instance, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring provoked the creation of the environmental movement holding the opinion that scientific development cannot be considered as progressive since it injures the community and nature that are essential parts of people’s existence (qtd. in Garreau 154).
The author’s conversation with Francis Fukuyama, the antagonist of the biotechnology techniques that aim to leave the human nature, resulted in the theory aboout three possible groups of people in the future with the following Hell Scenario: The Enhanced – those who use the service of GRIN technologies considering it as the prime virtue; The Naturals – those who have the opportunity to use GRIN but choose not to do it; The Rest – those who do not have the access to the GRIN technologies. The main thing that is revealed in this discussion is that robots cannot possess so-called “X-Factor” (i.e. soul) that will give them the opportunity to replace the humanity. The main way to prevent it is to gain control of the scientific process by means of law and special institution of which people become aware after experiencing a kind of disaster that will change their attitude towards technologies.
Bill McKibben in his work Enough: Staying Human in an Engineer Age discusses the problem of defining the point of the end of the technological process in the correspondence to those who are in need of it (i.e. parents with sick children, disabled people). It is better not to stop it, but slow down (qtd. in Garreau 176). However, the most reasonable point of view is provided by Freeman Dyson in his “The Future Needs Us” where the author claims that Joy’s theory is based on the technologies without taking into consideration the role of the societies and their influence on each other. People can shape and redirect technological power as it happened with the boycott of genetic engineering food. The main thing that is needed is more a aware attitude to the possible problem and immediate actions to prevent it (qtd. in Garreau 180).
In conclusion, the chapter “Hell” provides the audience with the detailed analysis of the evidence that shows the possible destructive power of the technological progress. By means of introducing different points of view on the future of humanity, the author wanted to show that it is quite probable that the Hell Scenario can take place. Nevertheless, it can be prevented by means of social forces that will immediately reconsider the functions of GRIN in the modern society.