Are we electric caterpillars?

In his podcast episode with Nicholas Christakis, during which he might have been quite high for all I know, Joe Rogan says he has a problem with the concept of “artificial life” (link takes you to 2:04:40 when he says it) — specifically with the “artificial” part. If we can create a sufficiently advanced technology, how can it be distinguished from something that is biologically alive?

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” asked the same question in an episode called “The Measure of a Man”. To answer it, the show (through Picard) had to argue that the things we normally call “sentient life”, including ourselves, are merely a kind of advanced technology.

I don’t know if Rogan is a Trekkie, but less than a minute later on his podcast he postulates that homo sapiens is an “electric caterpillar” species, and once we develop sufficiently advanced technology we will be transformed into whatever silicon-based butterfly we are destined to become.

Joe’s vision strikes me as wrong, although I know probably it doesn’t seem wrong to a lot of other people. I’ll have to do a follow-up post on why it strikes me as wrong. Not tonight though!


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