Every Thinking Parent Should Read Lynn’s “Sometimes Funny” Post

6 06 2008

. . .and Unthinking Parents should read it too, if they can.

Wow. Talk about Power of Story! More evidence for Lakoff’s new book, that the stories we tell and believe actually change brains as well as minds —

“Sometimes Funny, Sometimes Not”

My first thought was a funny one, Edna Mode in “The Incredibles” movie laying down the life-and-death design law: “No capes!”

But then a deadly serious thought about the design laws of artificial intelligence, that Anne Foerst’s Theology of Robots applies here, about the twisted, destructive ethics of perpetuating “misguided” beliefs about reality by mis-teaching a guileless innocent, when one is in a position of absolute power over what’s programmed into a consciousness you’ve literally created and control. (Not so much true for teachers in “school” as for individual homeschool parents and parents generally.)

I read about Anne Foerst years ago and wrote to thinking parents on our parent-directed education email list to explain why, in the ethics and theology of Dr. Foerst, we as all-powerful educators are the ones who need saving from our misteaching of others. Because we’re responsible, it is OUR minds and spirits most at risk, never mind the direct victims of our programming:

I remember reading about Anne Foerst in “The Playful World: How Technology is Transforming Our Imagination” which I just pulled out –

Chapter 3, The Charmed World, is all about her ethical challenges as the “resident robot theologian”:

“Her studies pointed out several assumptions — articles of faith, so to speak — that had handicapped AI researchers, unspoken and sometimes unconscious biases about the nature of mind and intelligence, biases that had subtly pervaded their work. Many of these assumptions had their roots in religious beliefs — fine for the church or synagogue or mosque, but not necessarily helpful in the laboratory. . .

In truth, robots will not need theological counseling for quite some time, if ever, but those who work WITH these growing intelligences need to be acutely aware of their own behaviors . . . all of human ethics came into play.” (page 61)

The whole chapter is about recognizing ethical pre-eminence in every
nuance and even the smallest communication between a responsible caregiver and a learning-dependent intelligence.

If this is true for robot researchers, how much MORE so must it be true for teachers and manipulators of real, live humans?




2 responses

6 06 2008

Thanks for the link 🙂

Actually, I was a little conflicted writing about this woman again. I’ve been criticized (in comments on the first post) for “mocking” her unfairly and I have spent time considering that. She “doesn’t know what she doesn’t know” afterall; however, ideas are much better conveyed through the “power of story.” In the end, because I get a fair number visitors to my site by way of google searches for Lydia (even more than those who come looking for smegma!), I wanted to work through replies to some of those criticisms.

Off to add The Incredibles to the top of my Blockbuster queue!… 😉

9 01 2009
While We’re Debating Who Deserves Humanity. . . « Cocking A Snook!

[…] of how humans think of and treat animals, caused by our needs and changes more than theirs, just as robot theologian Anne Foerst teaches and […]

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