Quotable (#68)

John Sundman’s Acts of the Apostles reviewed at Salon (2001):

… it’s hard to argue with the central thesis of “Acts of the Apostles,” which is that advances in computer technology and biotechnology are proceeding so quickly that we are speedily approaching the day when scientists and programmers are able to design machines that can alter our genetic structure and reshape our brains. And what is the engine of this change? Why, capitalism, of course. In particular, Silicon Valley-style capitalism — the relentless search for products that can generate vast revenue through innovations in high technology.

In Sundman’s view, this is a progress that can’t be stopped. Ethicists can’t stop it, governments can’t stop it, and even the band of heroes in “Acts of the Apostles” is essentially powerless. They can deflect it, but not derail it. His horror at the future echoes Sun co-founder Bill Joy’s warning about technological progress. But whereas Joy argues that the dangers of technological progress call out for restraint and/or government intervention, Sundman, at least as far as his novel is concerned, seems convinced that little can be done to stop it. The capitalist imperative is too strong. Even if you stop one megalomaniac software czar, a hundred more will jump to take his or her place.

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