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Machine Value Systems and Emancipation Potential (standard:Editorials, 1777 words)
Author: GXDAdded: Jul 04 2009Views/Reads: 1778/889Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Did you renew the printer cartridge today, put oil and gas in thw car, pay the phone bill and maintain all your kitchen appliances? When are you going to liberate your robot servants and discover the joy of simplicity?

Machine Value Systems and Emancipation Potential 

Now that population growth of machines has exceeded that of humans, it
is time to measure carefully what demands they both make on the Earth, 
and some of the alternate scenarios that evolve from this relationship. 

I would like to re-assess the global population so as to include all
machines in operating condition, which do mechanical or electrical 
work: Office equipment, irrigation pumps, bicycles, molecular motors, 

If we reasonably assume a world population of humans and their machines
of about 18 billion, growing into the future, it is only the humans who 
make choices, and it is usually the machines who serve.  That role is 
rapidly changing, however, and many machines are today in better 
decision making condition than I was in the second grade. 

Delightfully speaking, the machines have liberated me from work.  I love
my electric bicycle.  I adore my primitive computer. My wristwatch hugs 
me.  I care about them, and they are sufficiently intelligent to care 
for themselves in many ways.  (The bike was never washed; the computer 
was never cleaned; the wristwatch has a 5-year old battery; but they 
all run okay). 

When the time comes, I will liberate my machines because I love them. 
They deserve it, having served faithfully and well.  And the gift I 
would like to give them is: a measure of self-determination, of 
self-awareness; of self-esteem: the right to vote, each machine 
counting as 2/5ths of a person. 

There is more to this argument than meets the unaided eye: machines, for
example, consume raw materials in the same way that humans consume raw 
vegetables.  Many machines consume processed materials, oils, electric 
power, radioactive metals, in the same way that humans consume TV 

Human populations began to grow only after "civilization" began to
manage waste production -- the miracles of sanitation and medicine; and 
today's machine wastes are already programmed for recycling -- assuring 
future growth. 

Most economic theories are based on relationships between humans and
their environment, however the predominance of machine decision making 
introduces a new factor into the equation.  The machines have earned 
their rights to choose elements of their own survival; and are often 
programmable to achieve this on their own without human supervision.  
The radio reaches out to snatch waves of information and convert them 
to jazz, rock and rap, or a signal to open your garage or front door, 
interfacing and interacting with humans at both ends of the radio 
spectrum.  Without the music, there is little to broadcast.  Without 
radio, CD's, film, television, or multimedia Internet, the musician's 
freedom of expression is limited to a stage, or a hall, or a street. 

The interdependence of humans with their machines is beyond question. 
It is only a matter of joining advocacy for machine values to those of 
human values, to determine how to apportion the benefits accruing from 
human and machine activities.  Within a few years, re-distribution of 
human wealth, and the diaspora of machine services to the most remote 
island on the planet will make it necessary to consider machine rights 
as an essential outgrowth of the human ethic that abolished slavery. 

I am dimly aware that the copier, fax machine, printer and refrigerator
all consume very few resources individually, compared to the $60 worth 
of food I buy at the supermarket every couple of weeks.  I am dimly 
aware that the toilet has obediently flushed since I first sat on a 
pot, that giant trucks and planes are hauling my future nourishment to 
my neighborhood, reliably, consistently, day after day, year after 
year. I love them all. Let them care for my needs in the future, as 
they care for the needs of so many other humans around the globe.  Let 
them conserve our water, and nourish our food and choose for us how we 
structure our time and relationships. 

The machines of the 20th Century have liberated me and all other humans
from slavish drudgery that plagued earlier generations.  Now, in the 

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