Douglas Adams: "Is there an artificial god?"
Avi sez, via BoingBoing, "'Is there an Artificial God?' is an illuminating 1998 speech by Douglas Adams. Good to listen to him speak."
This was fascinating. Adams was a brilliant and funny speaker as well as a fantastic writer -- in fact, he was arguably a better lecturer than novelist. The sound quality is terrible, but it hardly matters.
So, my argument is that as we become more and more scientifically literate, it's worth remembering that the fictions with which we previously populated our world may have some function that it's worth trying to understand and preserve the essential components of, rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water; because even though we may not accept the reasons given for them being here in the first place, it may well be that there are good practical reasons for them, or something like them, to be there.
I suspect that as we move further and further into the field of digital or artificial life we will find more and more unexpected properties begin to emerge out of what we see happening and that this is a precise parallel to the entities we create around ourselves to inform and shape our lives and enable us to work and live together. Therefore, I would argue that though there isn't an actual god there is an artificial god and we should probably bear that in mind.
That is my debating point and you are now free to start hurling the chairs around!
Link to Transcript. Link to MP3.