Darwin Among the Machines

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Butler, Samuel (as "Cellarius"). "Darwin among the Machines" (sic: "among"). Article in The Press newspaper in Christchurch, NZ, 13 June 1863.[1] Along with other articles, developed into "The Book of the Machines" chapters in Butler's Erewhon, q.v.

Serious playing with the application of evolutionary theory to machines, as a kind of new species competing with Homo sapiens and possibly wining that competition and replacing us. As quoted in the Wikipedia article (deletions ours):

We refer to the question: What sort of creature man’s next successor in the supremacy of the earth is likely to be. [...] it appears to us that we are ourselves creating our own successors; we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenious contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race. ... Day by day [...] the machines are gaining ground upon us; day by day we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly philosophic mind can for a moment question.

Therefore, the article concludes, "War to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species. Let there be no exceptions made, no quarter shown; let us at once go back to the primeval condition of the race."[2] Cf. and contrast the climactic revolution in K. Vonnegut's Player Piano.



RDE, finishing, 20Dec20