Luna, on Mar 2 2010, 08:56 AM, said:
How can someone at your age be so confident when people at their 20s find it hopeless?
That's simple life experience Luna, dear. I've watched this happening for 30 years. As someone who has watched technology speeding up every year, and who started way back on a timex sinclair 1000 and has been involved in computer related activities from the birth of the internet, I've seen the acceleration happening.
It's not a matter of faith. It's a matter of seeing it first hand, and intense observation as it's happening. It's one thing to read about it, or to be told about it. It's entirely different when you've lived through it.
Nothing exists in a vacuum. Technology doesn't develop in isolation, and every advance leads to further advances. Our entire world as it exists today occurred because of the technological developments of the Apollo program, which not only developed the microelectronics we use daily, but advanced medicine, created an institutionalized research industry, and taught the entirety of several generations how to think scientifically. Most people don't realize exactly how much we have advanced in the last 40 years, because they can't step back and see the big picture. Even many experiences futurists in many fields lack that ability to step back and view EVERYTHING. NOTHING exists in a vacuum, and one has to be able to see how things interconnect. Science, politics, and human nature are all parts of the whole, and you can't ignore the bad parts in favor of the good. You can't pick and choose which data to use and which to ignore. You can't assume only positive uses for a technology, or that bad people won't get a hold of it. One man's evil is another man's good, so you have to understand how even the bad can lead to positive outcomes. And sometimes, you have to be quite well aware that not everything is as straightforward as it might seem, because there are always unintended consequences, and the better you can anticipate those, the more likely you are to truly see the big picture.
I am a complete and utter cynic, Luna. I see the human race as few others I know do, as a completely amoral self serving, and self deluded species, and at the same time, I see how that very nature is what will lead us to become a far better species as we progress over the next few decades. Our flaws are the very things which drive us towards a future in which we will over come those flaws, because those flaws work together with technology in ways which make certain developments highly likely, and ensure that the kind of co-ordinated resistance to developing technology which could siderail certain technological trends doesn't develop. I can look at the current economic problems and understand that they were an inevitable consequence of our technological advances, and know that they HAD to occur, because if they hadn't, then the next steps towards the future couldn't have occurred. I knew this kind of turmoil was going to happen 20 years ago, as computers and eventually robots replaced more and more of the workforce. There was no way around it. There still is no way around it. and the job situation is NOT going to improve more than moderately, because many jobs are becoming obsolete, and more and more are going to join them. And that is going to FORCE social changes, regardless of all the attempts to maintain a status quo. The next few years are probably going to get crazy. But there is a light at the other side as we finish transitioning from a industrial age of competing nations and corporations into a true worldwide society.
Yes, we're in a dark and scary forest. But you're too young to remember how much more dark and scary that forest was in the past, when we were all still reeling from the world wars, and the dangers of MAD, and the sheer insanity of the cold war. You can look at Iraq and Afghanistan, and see a few thousand casualties as a massive loss of life in a major war, where I can see a tiny little, far too expensive to fight, bleeding wound of a war, insignificant against the wars fought last century in which thousands of troops could die in a single DAY. The combined casualties on all sides of both the Iraq and Afghan wars is less than the number of troops lost taking Normandy Beach, or during the Vietnam War. It's the fact that people can SEE this war, live on TV more or less, which makes this seem so much greater than it really is. The same with petty dictators like the Iranian leader, or the N Viet Nam leader. They are barely dictators at all when compared to Hitler or Mussolini, or even Noriega, but they loom large simply because they are all that we have left to focus our fears on. Our world is moving out of the age of war and battles, but at the same time those wars are better televised and far more in the public eye than ever before.
The same with Politics. The corruption in Washington has existed for centuries. But it's never before been so in the public eye, and it seems so much worse than in the past solely because we have become so much more aware of it. But like the age of war, it's also an age in it's last gasp, just like Nations and Corporations and the divide between rich and poor. It may take a decade or two, but these things are in the process of dying, even though right now they seem stronger than ever. But unless you can see the greater whole, and understand how interconnected things are, you could easily believe that things are hopeless. You see them tightening their grip, but I see it as the last desperate grasp of a dying entity about to go under for the last time desperately looking for anything to keep themselves alive. They are going to fail, but they may manage to cling to life for another decade or so before the inevitable occurs. Yet even in their desperate struggle for life, they will be bringing about the technologies the will kill them.
The Singularity is not a mystical, magical cure all, Luna. It's simply a point beyond which we can no longer predict with any certainty. What's beyond is not something I am concerned about. But I can see exactly how we will get there, via many many different paths, and I can see that it's not really the Singularity which is really important. Who we will be by the time we reach the Singularity is not who we are now. Every step of the way between now and then is a step in humanities evolution. We're going to have to face our Demons of the ID, our fears and prejudices, our phobias and our flaws, and find solutions to them before we will ever be able to create a "savior".
I do believe that there are ET's out there, I am even willing to contemplate that they may have helped us out somewhat in developing technologies, but it's pretty clear that they are not going to come down in their ufo's and "save" us. No mystical "mind field" is going to occur. No "Point Zero" is going to spark a change in human consciousness. It's going to be a bloody, painful, dangerous road. Like we always have, we'll walk to the future over the corpses of the dead. I'll do what little I personally can to reduce that number as much as I can, but there is no easy way forward, no path which is not paved in blood. Merely paths which in which the body count is lower than others. Sadly, I think we are going to be going right up the middle, not as bloody as it could be, but far bloodier than it HAS to be.
But I can see the end of the bloodstained path ahead, Luna. I can see it drawing closer with every new technological advance. I have watched it draw closer day by bloody day for 30 years. It was so very very far away when I first started watching, but it is getting closer faster with every year that passes. But I also can see that the way to get to the end of bloodstains is going to be hard, difficult, and full of suffering.
But everything has a price, Luna. What you have to ask yourself is if the reward is worth the price. But even more important, you have to truly understand the reward. Immortality is just the tip of an iceberg. It's just one of those pieces which together make up the whole. A world where hunger, disease, poverty, war, and death have all been conquered is also just the tip of the iceberg. It would take me years to detail the big picture I see. But yeah, I think we as a species will find the reward worth the price.
I had my years of hopelessness too Luna. It's pretty typical for the 20 something crowd. I wish I could share with you the exact moment my old worldview shattered, the immense crashing of falling glass that I could feel around me as my mind processed the fact that I had suddenly awoken into a brand new reality, and it raced to put all the new pieces I could suddenly see into place. I wish I could show you exactly what went on in my mind as I, for the first time, managed to step back, and see the forest instead of the trees. I wish I could share with you the moment I found hope again. But all I can really do is tell you that from that moment to now, nothing I have see happen in the world has diminished that hope, and much has occurred to strengthen it.
It's a steep and hard climb up a bloodstained and slippery path to get to the top of the cliff beyond which the Singularity awaits, but we will make it, Luna. Human Nature makes it inevitable. A lot of us will fall and die, but the human race itself is going to reach that Plateau, and leave it's childhood behind. It's not going to be Paradise, and we'll never overcome every problem, because we will always find new problems to solve; we're a problem solving species after all. But we will have left our current problems lying buried along the path, amid the gore and carnage or our primitive past, and move on to the greater challenges of our unknowable future.