Are Post-Humanism and Trans-Humanism Anti-Humanist?

In the same interview I commented on in last week’s post, Frank Pasquale claims that 1) post-humanists and trans-humanists are pushing for AIs/robots which simulate humans and 2) this is anti-humanist. I quote:

How, specifically, are these positions anti-humanist?

In part, an essential element of being human is accepting and understanding our limitations. Our frailties. And that effort to transcend it and say, “Well, here’s an immortal entity; let’s treat it as being above and beyond the human,” is problematic. It involves rejecting the fact that we are mortal. That we feel pain. We have a limited amount of things that we can spend our attention on.

I do not understand how trying to deal with our limitations is a rejection of their existence. As far as I can tell, this argument could also be used against writing; our human minds have limited memories, so we should embrace that and stop writing down things that we might otherwise forget. By writing things down, we are rejecting our forgetfulness, which is an essential human quality. Continue reading

What Is the Argument Against Replacing Human Professionals with Qualified AI Professionals?

I have not read New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI by Frank Pasquale, but I did read this article.

Perhaps because I only read the interview and not the book, I do not understand his argument for the first new law: “Digital technologies ought to ‘complement professionals, not replace them.'” At first, I was wondering if his argument was that AI simply cannot replace professionals, but upon closer reading, it’s clear that he’s open to the possibility that AIs, in the future, might be entirely capable of doing some of these jobs on their own. Therefore, his position is that they should not, not that they cannot. And yet, later on in the interview, he seems to be in favor of AI/automation taking over blue-collar jobs such as supermarket cashier “unless people who are in those positions can say, ‘Hey, there’s a reason why you need human judgment and humans in control of this process. And if you take us out of the loop, there’s going to be a big problem.'” I do not understand (at least without reading the book) why he wants to automate away blue-collar by default but is adamant that digital technologies only supplement, not replace white-collar professions. If his position were simply ‘preserve human jobs because our political-economy is structured so that people are forced to sell labor in order to meet their material needs’ would that not apply to all jobs? Does the cashier not need to pay their bills just as badly as the doctor? And if he’s okay with ‘automating away’ cashier jobs, why not the same for doctors, teachers, etc.? Continue reading