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Discussion item of the day 02-21-03


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I'm not sure about better or worse, because there's another option: unrecognizable. If you look at the graphs of the rates of change in society, and factor in genetic engineering, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and ever-increasing computer power, you find that the graphs look they're going to go vertical sometime in the next few decades.

Vernor Vinge (author of books such as "A Fire Upon The Deep", one of the best SF novels ever, IMnsHO) describes this as a singularity, making an analogy to what's inside the event horizon of a black hole. As with a black hole, we can't know what's going on inside it. After the technological/societal singularity to come (says Vinge), things will be so different as to be unrecognizable to us.

A similar singularity occurred back around the time homo sopiens developed sentience and started to use language. Just as you can't explain to a dog what it's like to use language, those who will be part of society after the singularity will be unable to explain it to those like us, because we lack any ability to comprehend it.

For an interesting look at societal change, probably the best books would be "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave", both by Alvin Toffler; the former has a narrower scope, while the latter looks at the great waves of change (hunter/gatherer->agrarian, agrarian->industrial, industrial->super-industral) in society.



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Very interesting question!

We can only hope that it's going to be a better place.... but how are we going to change everything that is happening now?

There is so much potential for all humans to change the world around us....unfortunatley there's too many "bad apples" out there that ruin it for the rest of us....

I think about that question a lot, especially under the context that I want to bring lots of children into this world....but what kind of world will I be bringing them into? I know myself, the love and atmosphere I can create for them....but right now the rest of the world is a scary place.

I was just chatting with my one friend who is a Public School Teacher, and he said it is crazy what the kids are doing these days - compared to when we were in school!

I hope the world will be a beautiful place in a hundred years and I really hope we find world peace. [smile]

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I'm not sure about better or worse, because there's another option: unrecognizable.

Brad, you are bang on. There is absolutely no way to predict, but one thing is for sure, change is no longer linear, it is exponential. In fact, the GOD of singularity, Ray Kurzwell, is quoted as saying "the next 100 years will not bring 100 years of change, but will bring us 20,000 years of change".

In terms of reading material on change, although the Tofflers did a good job in their time, I would highly recommend the following:

Age of the Spiritual Machine, by Ray Kurzwell

Tomorrow Now, by Bruce Sterling,

Out of Control, by Kevin Kelly.

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Guest Low Roller

I'm not sure. I just hope that my view of the stars from Mars is good. Living in a stasis pod may not be glamourous, but it'll beat being on Earth when it gets a whole chunk blown out of it.

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At this point, I take some comfort in observing that I appear to be descended from the human equivalent of moderately intelligent rats. We adapt and, given adequate resources, we breed like, well, rats.

However, I take no responsibility for my descendants overrunning your descendants or stealing their cheese.

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