Happy Birthday to the old boy. Who really is a full century of years, God bless him.
I happened upon a copy of the BBC’s Science Focus in an airport lounge in which was the article “Welcome To The Novacene” (which is only on-line for the first page for free).
The novacene is Lovelock’s neologism for the time of cyborgs who he imagines will be possessed of intellects and free will like men. Which won’t happen. Ever.
Unlike most other science fiction writers, Lovelock imagines the time shared with our cyborg brothers will be a delightful one. Sweetness, good intentions, and bonhomie.
Cyborgs will like vegetables, for instance. Not as fuel, of course, though Lovelock doesn’t say not. He thinks the metal abacuses will appreciate intrinsic the beauty of carrots. And tell us of their warm feelings.
Only if they’re programmed to say so, Jimmy, old son.
He thinks evolution will do the programming, which it most certainly will not and cannot. If we humans are the product of “blind mutation” (as scientists never tire of pointing out) then nothing we say can be trusted or believed. Anyway, intellects and will are non-material, and as such cannot be acted on by evolutionary forces. Tough luck.
Somehow Lovelock thinks our new metal masters might be transparent. He explains, and I promise this is true, this is because Gaia wants them to join with use “to keep the planet cool.” What can be cooler (get it? get it?) than being see-through?
Novaceners will also create giant mirrors in space. Lovelock thinks to reflect sunshine. But I say we can use them like kids do to fry ants. If by ants I mean you-know-who. Where do I sign up for my DARPA grant? Or was this already done in Real Genius?
Lovelock does think we’re alone in the universe. Which is false. He forgets angels, good and bad, and God. But these are common oversights. He means he thinks there aren’t any frail material creatures like us with intellects and free will. Well, there is no evidence of them—except for hope. So here he may be right. I think he might be.
Somehow he ties this fact of aloneness to information or universal intelligence, and the magazine asks “Would this give humans a sense of meaning then—if we’re the source of this intelligence?” To which the man replies (and the only reason I thought this article worthy of your attention):
I think it’s sheer hubris to think about your sense of meaning. Life is something to be enjoyed, and if you don’t enjoy it, you’re doing something wrong.
I happened to be in the cancer ward the other day, where a group of Stage IVs were being herded through for radiation therapy and I read this passage out to them.
I regret that because this is a family blog none of the responses could be included.
An, never mind. Sick people are always complaining about something.
Lovelock is typical of the over-celebrated academic. He has come to believe his own press, a disastrous affliction.
The only questions really worth asking are why we are here and what is our purpose. If you answer like Jeffrey Epstein, you go one way. If you answer like Fulton Sheen, you go another.
What a putz is Lovelock. For proof, immediately after he gives his libertine answer he worries about the future that will be left his grandchildren. My dear Jimmy. What hubris! They only have to figure out how to have a good time.