Future Shock (Minus One)
Too much info and too many wild concepts to consider.
Let’s put it this way — To be able to hold this all in one’s mind without panic, or blind faith, or manic passion, to be able recognize the likelihood and probability of these progressively stranger concepts without a significant rise in blood-pressure; that is what it would mean to not be in future-shock.
The Shock Levels
What of this can you contemplate without exhibiting future-shock? Example symptoms of future shock: total astonishment, fear, blind enthusiasm, and downright-disbelief. By knowing what doesn’t shock you, you will know the extent of your own future-shock. So go ahead, apply this question to the following high-tech concepts: Are you astonished, frightened, giddy? Or do you react calmly to the prospects?
SHOCK LEVEL 0
Would you believe that there are cars and airplanes? There’s also this maze of tubes through which people can throw information at each other. It’s called the internet. Oh, and pay phones are almost completely gone now; everyone carries a mini-phone around in their pocket.
Now if Shock Level 0 comes as a surprise to you, then how in the world are you reading this!? Do you know someone with access to a home-printer? Yes, don’t be scared; they exist too and are relatively cheap, except for the ink cartridges of course; they cost you an arm and a leg, wouldn’t you know it!
SHOCK LEVEL 1
This is where we see the emergence of virtual and online cultures and economies, just a lot more interaction online: Stuff like Second Life, Amazon, WOW, BitCoin, Skype, and Twitter. We can now easily live to be 100 if we are fortunate enough to live in the developed world and take expert care of ourselves.
Level 0 people are quite surprised at what you can do virtually nowadays: Like ride a bike, or own your own home!
SHOCK LEVEL 2
Three people now have lived to be 200 years old! They got lots of body repairs done, did constant detox, nano-operations, and stem-cell “plastic” surgeries to look young. It helps that everyone drinks genetically-modified beer with resveratrol in it now, too.
Accidents happen though; we can still die by way of Acme anvils. Speaking of which, they tend to fall out of the sky much more often than probability would dictate nowadays. Must be the neo-luddites throwing some anarchy into the equation. But I digress…
Oh, also in Level 2 — We explore other planets and send probes to those in other solar systems. There are many artificial and genetically modified organism, like the How-Now-Talking-Brown-Cow and Pink Marshmallow Elephants. Also, human subcultures are diverging; many people are talking about how they are basically different species now: cyborgs and traditional humans. The cultural rift continues to grow.
There isn’t really much inter-breeding going on either, if you know what I mean… virtually sure, but that’s not exactly re-productive… (cough).
SHOCK LEVEL 3
Here we’ve got mature nanotechnology, bots swimming in your veins monitoring your vitals, and some that connect your nerves with your own personal internet cloud. The cyborgs and AI’s are working hard on their own intelligence all the time, so extropy is shooting through the roof in our little solar system. We are also anvil-proof. How? Just click backup in your Macbook Pro’s Mind-Time-Machine. Congratulations, you’ve now got a spare copy of your consciousness just in case anything anvil-related were to happen. I can’t recommend the XP version, though — too buggy.
Also in Level 3: Humans and robots are leaving the galaxy, but there are still some 10 billion left on Earth. The boundaries of Earthlings (as they are all called) are expanding; we’ve surely contacted other intelligences by now, or so most everyone believes — Nöosphere Media Control has been trying to keep it under wraps, you see…
“Ok, so most modern sci-fi geeks would laugh you off stage if you seriously told them it was happening as we speak, but they would believe it could happen someday, right?”, asked the participant.
“Yes, Mage Judy. You are now Level 3.”
SHOCK LEVEL 4 — Try this one on for size…
You exist as multiple copies of yourself; you can’t die unless all self-iterations will it simultaneously. Each self-iteration can, though, change their personality completely — as easy as it was for those 2010-ers to switch to Ubuntu.
Much of the matter in our galaxy has been converted to Computronium, or, all purpose computing clay. One drop of this stuff computes as much as the 2010 human population could and it’s totally malleable. It can create, be molded into, and process anything, so solid reality has become quite fluid, with everything linked to The Ubiquitous Internet 12.0^Cubed.
We’ve gone through a singularity (or two, depending on who you ask) and ultra-intelligence is saturating the whole known universe. We’re also performing physics hacks on the universe’s substrate. If we succeed we’ll tamper and spawn a few thousand more universes slightly removed from ours and linked by wormholes; they’ll have the perfect parameters for new life to develop independently from the elements of their own gradually-cooling mini big-bangs. (See Biocosm)
“So life as we know it is basically kaput then, it’s unrecognizable from my world, that’s what you’re saying…” offered Level-3 Mage Judy.
“That’s exactly right.” said Level-4 Apotheosis Wizard Tim.
THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS ARTICLE:
WHAT THIS HELPS ME WITH:
“The classification is useful because it helps measure what your audience is ready for; for example, going two Shock Levels higher will cause people to be shocked, but being seriously frightened takes three Shock Levels. Obviously this is just a loose rule of thumb! Also, I find that I often want to refer to groups by shock level; for example, “This argument works best between SL1 and SL2”.
This does not mean that people with different Shock Levels are necessarily divided into opposing social factions; it’s not an us-versus-them thing.” — Yudkowsky