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Don’t Look Up (Jennifer Lawrence/Leonardo DiCaprio)

Hypatia

trying to be a very good ENTP
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The movie Don’t Look Up (2022) begs an interesting question— how is society as a whole equitably expected to rely on magnates in the field of advanced tech-centric, specialized technology? Well, I believe the first step is to begin to ameliorate a culture of fear and misunderstanding.

Tech magnates usually become wealthy due to one primary phenomenon— either their discoveries (in the sphere of science) or their applications (in the realm of invention and innovation) prove to house incredible utility to the average consumer. Usually the process of taking these innovations to market require incredible endurance and resilience, and it’s a marvel that then, society at large gets to reap the benefits of their intellectual inquiries and offspring.

But tech magnates, however successful, are still people, and as people, they still ought to be considered with dignity and respect, even if they make decisions and choices that you or I, perhaps, wouldn’t agree with. That is, (even) assuming, that these mistakes are of any considerable significance or contention. In the movie, “Don’t Look Up,” cell phone magnate Peter Isherwell makes a grave miscalculation on two fronts: he miscalculates the number of drones necessary to safely harvest the minerals from the comet, (assumedly) fails to run enough trial simulations to ensure a high enough success rate, and fails to forge enough contingency plans with which to save a greater proportion of the Earth’s inhabitants.

The film seems to prioritize the latter over exploring issues related to the former topics of technological ethics, which comes as no surprise, given we live in an era where the rich are expected to contribute more and more to demands of those in lower income brackets. But is this necessarily fair to the welfare of those that are wealthy, brilliant, and ought to be considered philanthropists due to the applications of their intellect that we, as consumers, already enjoy?

Surely it could be argued that Peter Isherwell is in some sense a caricature, and his carelessness and indifference can then be taken metaphorically, to generalize to all of us a worser aspect of ourselves, or to put it in other words, the human condition. But scientists and inventors are not primarily ethicists, in this respect; that is why we need conversations with governments and leaders in order to broaden our perspective. Surely, much of the forthcoming devastation that is witnessed can much more readily be attributed to the corrupt governmental officiates and their journalistic cronies than a man whose role in society is not predominately an ethical one.

I do not believe society as a whole is justified to entitle themselves to ethical demands from people when it is not appropriate to their chosen role. I believe that that is the more inappropriate and dangerous landslide. If we do not work to correct this current trend, I believe it is us (society as a whole) that will land ourselves in hot water, and it is not the responsibility of anybody else — high or low — to save us.
 

Totenkindly

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I didn't pity Isherwell (nor had much interest in his portrayal by Mark Rylance, who was essentially doing a second-rate knockoff of his version of James Halliday in Ready Player One -- itself a pretty flawed film), because he wasn't a victim nor did he have attention thrust on him. In fact he could directly be blamed for Earth's destruction.

The government had already resolved the problem and saved Earth -- the asteroid was going to be blown up and its particles either missing Earth or impacting with far less devastation, assuming the mission was successful -- when Isherwell specifically intervened during/after TAKEOFF forcing the mission to turn around, all because he "had discovered valuable minerals on the asteroid" and wanted to mine the asteroid first for profit and advancement of his own legacy.

synopsis of Isherwell's actions from wikipedia:


The government shares culpability for responding to this idiocy by actually placing wealth ahead of survival and also trusting that a regularly incoherent Isherwell actually could run a project like this through to completion in weeks -- and if you work in tech or simply watch the SpaceX rockets (and similar) news, you would know is absurd. Even doing simple code changes in software under Waterfall method can take 4-6 months, and we're talking about building and validating both code and machinery with a high degree of precision. It's obvious the politicians didn't know shit about the science, and Isherwell SHOULD have known his success ratio was likely slim at best but either wanted the rights to those minerals rabidly or was so absorbed in his own importance and ability that he actually believed his bullshit was gold.

Isherwell was not a victim nor a hero. He derailed a mission already in progress at the last second that had a much higher success ratio, all to insert himself and his interests and his company into the process, for his own glory; AND he misled a bunch of laypeople to make decisions detrimental to the survival of the human race. And then when it went south, he left humanity to die and saved who? The exact same people making the exact same shitty decisions that destroyed humanity in the first place. What an ass.

I've spent my entire career in programming and technology. Yes, there are some people who view technology with fear and misunderstanding, but you know what? Some of that comes from politicians stirring up that fear and mistrust; some of it comes from tech folks abusing their control (I'm looking at you for example, Zuck) for profit and self-glorification without bothering to understand the impacts of their technology on humanity. It's like Jurassic Park all over again, just on smaller increments. Exonerating scientists saying they should depend on the ethics of politicians (ROFLMAO) just makes it more likely for this kind of incident to happen in the future.
 

Totenkindly

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Put another way as well: When you're doing a programming project or similar, you HAVE to do a risk assessment. It's part of the process.

If the risks are too great, you find another solution or you don't do the project. What happens if your project either fails and/or fails to release on time?

You can mitigate risk by successfully validating your efforts to a high degree of consistency, but they did not have the time to validate properly, not even a regular iteration of validation.

I think any sane company looking at an effort with a high risk that all of humanity will die if they do not successfully release on time and no time to properly validate and correct issues would set aside that effort, especially if a different release has a much higher success to "save humanity." It was insanity and hubris for them to continue; they were denying the very principles (the "tech ethics") that are supposed to guide their decision-making.
 

Hypatia

trying to be a very good ENTP
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
615
I didn't pity Isherwell (nor had much interest in his portrayal by Mark Rylance, who was essentially doing a second-rate knockoff of his version of James Halliday in Ready Player One -- itself a pretty flawed film), because he wasn't a victim nor did he have attention thrust on him. In fact he could directly be blamed for Earth's destruction.

The government had already resolved the problem and saved Earth -- the asteroid was going to be blown up and its particles either missing Earth or impacting with far less devastation, assuming the mission was successful -- when Isherwell specifically intervened during/after TAKEOFF forcing the mission to turn around, all because he "had discovered valuable minerals on the asteroid" and wanted to mine the asteroid first for profit and advancement of his own legacy.

synopsis of Isherwell's actions from wikipedia:


The government shares culpability for responding to this idiocy by actually placing wealth ahead of survival and also trusting that a regularly incoherent Isherwell actually could run a project like this through to completion in weeks -- and if you work in tech or simply watch the SpaceX rockets (and similar) news, you would know is absurd. Even doing simple code changes in software under Waterfall method can take 4-6 months, and we're talking about building and validating both code and machinery with a high degree of precision. It's obvious the politicians didn't know shit about the science, and Isherwell SHOULD have known his success ratio was likely slim at best but either wanted the rights to those minerals rabidly or was so absorbed in his own importance and ability that he actually believed his bullshit was gold.

Isherwell was not a victim nor a hero. He derailed a mission already in progress at the last second that had a much higher success ratio, all to insert himself and his interests and his company into the process, for his own glory; AND he misled a bunch of laypeople to make decisions detrimental to the survival of the human race. And then when it went south, he left humanity to die and saved who? The exact same people making the exact same shitty decisions that destroyed humanity in the first place. What an ass.

I've spent my entire career in programming and technology. Yes, there are some people who view technology with fear and misunderstanding, but you know what? Some of that comes from politicians stirring up that fear and mistrust; some of it comes from tech folks abusing their control (I'm looking at you for example, Zuck) for profit and self-glorification without bothering to understand the impacts of their technology on humanity. It's like Jurassic Park all over again, just on smaller increments. Exonerating scientists saying they should depend on the ethics of politicians (ROFLMAO) just makes it more likely for this kind of incident to happen in the future.
Put another way as well: When you're doing a programming project or similar, you HAVE to do a risk assessment. It's part of the process.

If the risks are too great, you find another solution or you don't do the project. What happens if your project either fails and/or fails to release on time?

You can mitigate risk by successfully validating your efforts to a high degree of consistency, but they did not have the time to validate properly, not even a regular iteration of validation.

I think any sane company looking at an effort with a high risk that all of humanity will die if they do not successfully release on time and no time to properly validate and correct issues would set aside that effort, especially if a different release has a much higher success to "save humanity." It was insanity and hubris for them to continue; they were denying the very principles (the "tech ethics") that are supposed to guide their decision-making.
But scientists and inventors are not primarily ethicists, in this respect; that is why we need conversations with governments and leaders in order to broaden our perspective.
 

Totenkindly

@.~*virinaĉo*~.@
Joined
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But scientists and inventors are not primarily ethicists, in this respect; that is why we need conversations with governments and leaders in order to broaden our perspective.
What -- governments and leaders are primarily ethicists either? Look how that has gone every time.

"Don't Look Up" is scathing on just about everyone but the whistleblowers, and even the whistleblower has feet of clay.

What the hell does "conversations with government and leaders" even mean, in your mind? It's unclear what you are getting at. Of course there should be conversations within responsible governance concerning human interests. What specifically are you promoting?
 
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