Posts Tagged ‘Foundation’
by adminadam in home
You only have one day to live. How do you spend your time?
What legacy or example do you leave behind in the form of pure enjoyment, your presence, and your oneness with others and the world around you? How do you say goodbye? For me being with the people I love would be my main priority.
If you only had one month what more could you do? What lasting impressions would you leave? What would you bestow upon people around you? I might try to mail some hand-written letters to folks I care about, for instance. Some apologies and some affirmations.
With a year perhaps you could finish some larger projects, or go on longer expeditions. I think I would do some good reading, write a will, and leave treasures spread about the Northwest, hidden in waiting for the adventuresome (see: geocachers) to find. I would also find uses for all my possessions and try not to leave too much of a mess behind when I depart.
What ambition drives you? What lasting change(s) could you insinuate into the world? How different a person might you be at the end of this time? And would your ambition carry through, through your own transitions and transformations? I assume that this is probably too long a timeframe on which to position or plant yourself firmly — even if you could somehow know that you were going to die after exactly ten years. Encroaching glaciers move not men like tigers do.
I feel that, just as in everyday life, the way you live and the way you make other people feel is the thing that will be best remembered. I don’t believe we are all destined to write amazing books or carve out timeless masterpieces, but with that said, one may become a Genius at something after ten years with a weekly investment of 20 hours (see: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell), correct? Perhaps I could become a Virtuoso on the Trumpet given that amount of time…
If you were to master something, what would it be?
What could be passed down? What could remain intact for 100 years? I recently cleaned out my new Spanish classroom and found a Latin American Literature textbook from 1921. That will certainly last the remaining 7. In fact, I think I’ll keep it forever. Such things are like gold to me — the foundations of future history.
For you, is there anything in your possession that you would want preserved (or alternatively, anything you’d want used until it is used up)?
I once tossed a mini-time capsule into the woods when I was 13. It contained some trinkets and coins, wrapped and packaged in multiple boxes of various materials, wood and stone, taped up with duct-tape, and sealed in a jar. Someday perhaps it will surface to someone’s surprise and amusement. “What for save these pennies and nickels? Silly ancestors…” Or perhaps: “Wow, thanks for the treasure!”.
The other matter to consider here is: Might I actually still be alive in 100 years? I know that insurance companies commonly assume that death rates will “decline 1 percent a year” (see: Predicting How Long You’ll Live). Also, seeing as a hand-full of folks have already lived past 120, is it so unlikely that some from my generation might see 130, or perhaps 140? And although this is perhaps a disturbing thing to consider, as we’ve only ever known people of such advanced years to be incapacitated in various ways (and/or decrepit), what if our medicine allowed us to live productively for significantly greater portions of this time? This would most certainly alter the legacy-making potential of individuals such as yourself. (See my post on Actuarial Escape Velocity, a.k.a. “The Methuselarity”, for more on this.)
For now, assuming most people would be dead, is there anything you would want the world 100 years hence to have? Or any message you would want them to hear? Maybe I would want to plant a forest…
One Millennium (and Beyond):
Not many human structures would survive this expanse of time. Many things would be subsumed, corroded, or broken-up. What could we save? What could we pass down that would have a fighting chance of surviving? Are there any movements that we could take part in that would carry on? Any cultural fires we could try and keep fueled? Bronze sculptures apparently could last up to 10 million years.
What about our messages to other civilizations? Our transmissions will expand out into the cosmos forever. Are there any positive messages to send? Have we in fact, sent out anything of value, either in terms of insights into ourselves or invitations to connect and understand each other?
The answer is a resounding Yes. The first was the Arecibo Message sent in 1974. It contained the following information and was designed by Carl Sagan, Frank Drake (of the famous “Drake Equation”), and others:
- The numbers one (1) to ten (10)
- The atomic numbers of the elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, which make up deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
- The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA
- The number of nucleotides in DNA, and a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA
- A graphic figure of a human, the dimension (physical height) of an average man, and the human population of Earth
- A graphic of the Solar System
- A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish
For a complete history of the messages we have sent into space, including (surprise!) a Doritos advertisement sent towards a nearby (read: 42 light years away) solar system in Ursa Major, see New Scientist’s “Earth calling: A short history of radio messages to ET“.
Some of the more affirming and beautiful things include the following messages sent towards Gliese 581d, one of the wettest (read: H20) and lightest exoplanets so far discovered as part of Cosmos’ Hello from Earth campaign:
Smile :) Humans are naive and fragile. We are not evolved to understand everything. We are children in a vast and mysterious universe.
– Tommy, Adelaide, Australia
We come in peace. If you are out there, please respond. We want to be friends. We are all different and we can’t wait to meet you! From the children of Earth.
– Class4M, Castle Cove Public School, Australia
All our petty disputes, disagreements and wars fade into insignificance when we consider our tiny world’s place in the cosmos.
– Silvio Zarb, Melbourne, Australia
What do you see when you look up into the sky? Do you feel small and lonely, just like us? From now on, I can assure you one thing: you are not alone. Be happy.
– Sergio Camalich, Hermosillo, Mexico
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.
– John Xavier, Chicago, United States
If you know the meaning of life, please send it to us. If not, let’s celebrate together anyway! Thanks in advance, from a curious carbon-based life form!
– Monica Echagen, Barcelona, Spain
Apparently Australia is the top country sending these out. (Good for you guys!)
At the very least — even if we cannot hope to build pyramids, bronze statues, or more monuments like Mt. Rushmore — we can live well and send out our positive thoughts to the universe. Perhaps someday we’ll get a response..!
As for you, what good signals and vibrations would you have transmitted? What great gifts would you give to the future?
by adminadam in links
I’m such a Foundation (Asimov) nerd that I had to post this when I found out that a town in Turkey was actually named “with/of Foundation” i.e. Foundational = Vakıflı. Here is a clip of the wikipedia entry on it. Apparently the only remaining Armenian village in Turkey.
by adminadam in letters
Dear Divided Peoples of Our Human Galaxy,
Two hundred centuries. For two hundred centuries you have tried to get it right. You swore me off. You would be fine by yourselves, you said. But now you must realize it as Trevize has that there are things you just cannot do on your own. And I think you are in fact beginning to see it: Humanity is crooked timber from whence no straight twig has ever sprung.
So you must be sure when you call for my help after all this time that you do really want it. There will be no turning back. I will help you to the best of my abilities: As your humble servant I have created a plan even while doubt remains in my mind that my services will be well received. Here I present that plan. In order to save civilization from its imminent collapse, it will be necessary for me to fuse my powerful mind with that of a certain particularly benevolent heat-and-energy-transducing Spacer child named Fallom from the planet Solaria. This will temporarily increase my reach and influence in hyperspace by many fold.
While I will be ceding my mind to biological processes that will eventually destroy it, at the same time this will allow me to serve humanity during one final sprint to the finish line. Along the way, I will fight the conceptual fight with ignorant raging hordes who disbelieve the urgency of the new galactic framework; but even despite significant resistance, in three or four hundred years time I will have set up the super-mind you all so desperately need to keep yourselves from returning to barbarism, a super-mind that will allow you to never again have to face your own corrupt nature, to never again have to struggle with hierarchy and bureaucratic reformism, and to never again have to wage war against your own brothers and sisters. I offer a lasting solution to all of these problems.
Let’s face it: All of your collective attempts thus far have been noble, but mere “efforts” nonetheless. You created the first Foundation as a hub of technology and learning, a place from which to rekindle innovation in engineering, in business and economics, and ultimately in ideology and the structure of civilization itself.
You made immense progress in only 500 years, progress that is, until the Mule came along and categorically proved your vulnerability — not to mention your inferiority to the previously-mythical Second Foundation, a secret group attempting to weave together a coherent and comprehensible society by pulling at the mind strings of the masses, indeed weaving together the psychology of a stable civilization. But even the Second Foundationers could hardly manage to keep the Mule from wiping clean from the slate hundreds of years of progress in a galactic civilization which had to be nurtured up from barbarity through rigorous mathematics, psychohistory, and eventually mentalics — and who knows how many more mules could come to once again knock humanity on its collective back-side. Needless to say, that is why you need me, a robot, to shock you into a sane and functional unity.
You will in fact protect and monitor yourselves in the end, but first you’ll need someone to link you together into one giant super-mind whose number one priority it will be to ensure its own ideally-efficient functioning. That will be my job. You will then easily topple all corruptible forms of government and the theoretical bases on which they rely, eliminate the majority of the polished lying that has always been necessary for your minimally functional societies of the past to stick together, and mentally, you will finally advance into Tier Three Civilization territory. You humans may be stupid in groups, divided, but after my work is done you will be one super-organism, united and indivisible, and an organism worth talking to at that. It is then that you will know peace, that I will lay down to rest, and that Galaxia will be yours.
R. Daneel Olivaw
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