David Pearce. The Biointelligence Explosion excerpt: pp. 1 – 16

I hope you enjoyed reading that- what a ride. Prepare for some fun in the classroom with this piece.

1. Pearce’s trope is “modifying your own source code.”  Analyze this phraseology. It is intended to provoke a certain imagining on the part of the reader. First of all, is real-time genetic manipulation a modification of source code?   Is source code an appropriate term to use in describing part of the human body architecture?  Finally, if we are modifying our source code and choosing to use open-source tools (human IDE’s?) to do so, can you extrapolate from software engineering processes today to imagine some of the issues and challenges we may face? Get dystopian.

2. Imagine that this article attracted serious traction- got printed in the Times and was read by everyone.  Journalists start quoting it, pundits talk about this future.  How would you (now you are a policymaker) attempt to modulate opinions that flow freely after non-experts read this article to get people to have some perspective that separates likely futures from exaggeration?


Joe Weizenbaum

Computer Power and Human Reason, pp. 1-16, 128-129, 226-227, 270-271



1. Weizenbaum states that there are some things computers ought not do. What does he identify in this category and what is his reasoning?


2. What are you opinions about the answer to #1 above; do you agree or disagree with Weizenbaum. Justify your opinion.