When it comes to distrust of the concept of “progress” and general dread of the technopoly in our future, I yield to few. Frinstance, my stunning novel Acts of the Apostles (free download, look to the left of this page) might be characterized as a dystopian Orwellian panic attack (with hot chicks and car chases, etc.) inspired by molecular-nano technology (MNT). However this morning I must doff my virtual technoparanoid cap to Damien Broderic, an SF author and comparative semiotician. Check out this essay, which I discovered via Kurzweil AI:
Can civil societies absorb the impact of MNT without degenerating almost instantly into Hobbesian micro states, where the principal currency is direct power over other humans, expressed at best as involuntary personal service and, at the worst, sadistic or careless infliction of pain and consequent brutalization of spirit in slaves and masters alike? It is a disturbing prospect, more worrying than crazed individuals or sectarian terrorists. Are we, indeed, doomed to this outcome through frailties in our evolved nature, unsuited to such challenges, or perhaps to the rapacity of the current global economy?
A deeper question might be this: even if we assume that rich consumerist and individualist First World cultures like the USA might be prone to such collapse, is that true of all extant societies? Might more rigid or authoritarian societies have an advantage, if their citizens or subjects are too cowed by existing power structures to dash headlong into lawlessness? Might technologically simpler and poorer societies, possessing fewer goods to begin with and perhaps having fewer rising expectations, rebuff the temptations of MNT? Or might they seize upon such machines eagerly, but distribute them and their cornucopia, if only locally, on models of community or tribe unfamiliar to us in the West?
Now that, my friends, is the true technoparanoid goods! I stand in awe. In honor of which I hereby institute the office of Honorary Wetmachiner (Wetmechanic?), and confer it upon our worthy expostulator from Down Under.