From rearing children to building robots

I came across an article today on /r/technology about a new turtle-style robot that’s being used to teach kids to code.  Though I’m not really interested in trying to get my 3 year old to code, it sounded interesting so I followed the link to give it a look.  The opening line of the very first paragraph of the article absolutely stopped me in my tracks; I couldn’t believe that our world had gotten so borked up that someone would actually say these words and be OK with them:

In order to build new human children who can compete in tomorrow’s post-work world, we must teach kids to code. Everyone agrees, even Obama…

Build human children?  There is so much messed up in that statement it’s hard to say where to begin.  Even if you get passed that, the next thing we get hit with is this mythical “post-work” world that’s supposedly going to happen.

I’m neither a philosopher nor a philosopher’s son, but lets just break these statements down a bit beginning with the first.

To start, the phrase “human children” not only sounds weird, but it’s a bit ominous if you peel back the tech-journalist-flair.  None of the major dictionaries I consulted, from modern dictionaries all the way back to the venerable Webster’s 1828, gave room for children to be anything but human.  To use the phrase “human children” specifically then infers that there is some other type of child, or at the very least that there is room for debate regarding who qualifies as a human child.  This could reference the abortionist doctrine that one doesn’t become human until birth (or some other arbitrary point after conception), but the fact that they want to “build” human children reveals that it’s much more likely that they refer to the possibility of a non-human child via artificial intelligence, the thought that if we can manage to create an intelligence comparable to our own in robots and computers, then we can finally prove that we ourselves are simply molecular machines no different than they would be.

The thought of artificial intelligence has both intrigued and frightened mankind for some time now, but until recently it was something that we watched on Star Trek and was never going to happen in real life.  I still don’t believe it will truly happen, not in the sense of actually achieving human-levels of sentience, but recent attempts have been good enough to cause even some science-guys to balk at the idea.  You would think that Stephen Hawkins of all people would be thrilled at the chance to finally put us religious creationist nuts in our place by proving that God is totally unnecessary to create human-like intelligence, but he is smart enough to realize that if we were smart enough to become god, there would be nothing to stop our creation from becoming god and pushing us out of the way.  He’s not alone; a quick web search will show you that Bill Gates and Elon Musk agree.

Now I’m not one of these folks who is scared to death of the Terminator coming to get me; on the contrary, I don’t have that much confidence in man’s abilities.  What it does show us though is the mindset that these folks have: we as humans are not special.  We are just blobs of protein bumbling about a self-created universe with no reason to exist or not exist.  While it may not be immediately obvious why this is a problem, it becomes apparent when we consider that these individuals and the companies they represent have a strong, and even sometimes direct, influence on society and specifically the public education American children receive.

Consider Common Core: if you don’t know what it is then you won’t have to look far to find very strong opinions one way or another on it.  Regardless of where you fall on the hate-it-love-it spectrum, try to put aside the opinions and emotions for just a moment to consider a few facts:

  1. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation funded the development of Common Core, and also provided political influence to get it adopted.
  2. One of the major talking points in promoting Common Core has been the promotion of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.
  3. One of the complaints about Common Core is emphasis of the process over results. The linked article here is actually trying to defend Common Core, so you get both sides of this argument.
  4. History in general and US History specifically (particularly anything that a reasonable person would perceive as positive) seem to be de-emphasized or omitted in many places.  Honestly this is just one article of many that demonstrate this.  Spend some time reading blog posts on this topic; you can’t really rely on one random blog post for accurate news but when you have them popping up all over the place complaining about the same things, you start to think there’s something to it.

Now, for an analysis of what I see in these facts.  First off, it would be asinine to think that Bill Gates paid for all this stuff and he didn’t inject his thoughts and priorities into the process.  Especially if STEM is a focus, it would make sense to have one of the industry leaders guide the process of training folks to enter the field, right?  Now lets look at the next point: no matter how you interpret the argument presented in the article, I still come away with the feeling that they are encouraging the students to trust the process with less regard for the results/consequences.  As in, “shut up and do what you’re told.”  I know it’s subtle, but I can’t help but see it against the backdrop of everything else Common Core appears to be standing for.  Moving on to the last point: if we don’t know where we’ve come from, how we got here, the sacrifices it took, the passions of the men who dreamed of something better than a tyrannical government and oppressive nobles, what would be left for the young people to be passionate about now?  If you’ve ever read “A Brave New World” you see that one of the secrets to controlling people is controlling passion: without it visionaries become dull and indifferent, patriots become cogs in political machines.  Not only that, but we know what wisdom tells us becomes of folks who do not learn from history.  We see a great movement in our nation right now, particularly among the youth, toward a Socialist government.  They are no longer being taught about the epic failures of socialism in the past, nor indeed the consequences in terms of loss of liberty in current socialist-aligned governments abroad.

This is what I see coming from men like this, whose influence is ever greater upon the next generation whether by the narcotic effect of constant connection or the repressive education schemes they’ve come up with: you are nothing more than a machine that does the bidding of the elite.

That brings me to the second part of the quote from the Verge: the “post-work” world.  A lot of folks have been duped into accepting all this by means of the promise of a tomorrow where we’ll never have to work in the traditional sense.  We’ll sit around all day while Rosie vacuums and Rudy shows us whatever entertainment we fancy at the time, and we’ll sip a latte brought to us by yet another of the army of robotic household servants.  The sun will power it all for free, and there’ll even be other robots that repair the household robots when they break.  There is nothing realistic about this but people seem to be willing to justify giving in to the pressure for even such an out-of-reach goal.  Here’s what scripture says about it:

Genesis 3:17-19
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Scripture guarantees us that we will not be liberated from work until all things are made new again.  Not only that, but if the technocrats have their way and get to “build human children” according to their whims, do we really think they’ll let us be equal with them?  They talk about equality all the time, but what they really mean is that we will all be equal in subservience: subservience through dependence.  What we are doing with our current technology and technocrat driven education system is creating a generation that is so dependent that if the system ever failed, death would be rampant.  How many young people know how to raise crops?  Dress wild game?  Use an axe?  Or even sew by hand?  What about cooking a simple meal?

I’m not talking about facing Hollywood garbage like zombies and shark-infested tornadoes; we have enemies right now that could cripple the US’s entire technological system by detonating a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere, creating an incredibly strong EMP.  That’s totally ignoring possible natural catastrophes like major solar flares whose effects are at this point only the subject of speculation.

So when did we go from rearing children to building biological robots?

Let’s wrap up with some scripture that instructs us in the most important aspect of proper child rearing, to be complimented with applicable life skills:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.