James Lovelock’s Error-Making Capabilities Peak At 100

James Lovelock’s Error-Making Capabilities Peak At 100

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.


  1. Mark

    Cyborgs can have free will & all that as they’re still part human or w/e – think amputees todays with robotic replacements etc, just dialled up to 11. AIs, robots etc are of course another matter.

  2. Jim Fedako

    Hmmm. Sounds like the utopian socialist, Charles Fourier, “babbl(ing) about the ocean containing lemonade instead of salt water.” (Mises, Human Action)

  3. John B()

    … he worries about the future that will be left his grandchildren …

    At 100, aren’t his grandchildren are already here – don’t they have grandchildren themselves?

  4. henry higgins

    A robot would not be so stupid as to envision (certain) humans. Maybe they are smarter.

  5. Bill_R

    Hmmm, the cyborgs have already arrived. I’ve got a metallic heart valve, various metal wiring, pins in my body, artificial ears (hearing aids) and eye lenses.(glasses) Friends/relatives have metallic joints, artificial limbs and appendages, and implanted lenses and ears, as well as plates to stabilize bones and replace parts of skulls. Beats being dead.

  6. Henry Higgins

    The Monkey Speaks His Mind was written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1957. It’s been recorded by a variety of artists. DB just died at age 100

    The monkey speaks his mind
    And three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
    Discussing things as they are said to be
    Said one to other now listen, you two
    “There’s a certain rumour that just can’t be true
    That man descended from our noble race
    Why, the very idea is a big disgrace
    No monkey ever deserted his wife
    Starved her baby and ruined her life
    the monkey speaks his mind
    And you’ve never known a mother monk
    To leave her babies with others to bunk

    So you can reach 100 and be sane

  7. Uncle Mike

    Happy Birthday Jimmy!

    I never thought he’d make it. After all, 50 years ago Lovelost predicted the End of the World in 10 years, or less. And again at age 60, and at age 70, and at age 80…

    And he’s still kicking today! Or at least rolling over on his bedsores.

    You folks thought L. Ron Hubbard was the only sci-fi writer to start a cult, but Jimmy’s Gay-a cult has vastly more adherents; hundreds of millions if not billions of slavish believers. Entire political parties, all of them in fact (foreign and domestic) swear fealty to his doomsday catechism.

    Why even on this website, it seems, Doomsterism is the popular theme. All the kids are into it. Doomsters are the new Hipsters. Huddled in their parents’ basements, playing Soon Doom on their XXX boxes, blasting away at each other in apocalyptic glee.

    And why not? We’re all gonna burn and drown (at the same time) in the coming Hotpocalypse. Old white men pissened the Planet, screwed the Big Pooch for all of us, so why not fire on whomever, virtually or even at Walmart, because it really doesn’t matter anyway. Gay-a is angry, vengeful, and seeks mass death for our sins.

    Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes. So does mass murder. All the kids are into it. Not to mention Mom and Dad, who taught their children well (the ones they didn’t abort, that is).

    Happy Birthday, Jimmy! You old fart …

  8. swordfishtrombone

    It’s getting boring commenting on postings which just repeat the same nonsense claims over and over again without any supporting arguments or evidence.

    “cyborgs who he imagines will be possessed of intellects and free will like men. Which won’t happen.”

    It won’t happen because (libertarian) free will is logically impossible. The marketing team would be asking the engineering team to design a robot whose actions aren’t determined by its inputs, but also aren’t random.

    “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.”

    Bearing in mind that the existence of cancer (and suffering in general) is a problem for theism, this is an odd example to pick. I wonder how those patients would react to a priest going on about how much God loves them in such a situation? And, your blog isn’t family-friendly.

  9. Dave

    The robot apocalypse doesn’t worry me because there’s so little overlap between their needs and ours. Robots have no use for food, medicine, education, housing, or sex, so the prices of these goods will always reflect the ability of humans to pay for them. If robots ever acquire agency (unlikely, as ours was either a divine spark or the outcome of a billion years of evolution), they will likely settle into a symbiotic relationship with humans, where one’s input is the other’s output.

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