Posts Tagged ‘future’
The video below, from 1981, shows newspapers embracing the early internet to share text-only papers with tech-savvy (at the time) readers on their home computers.
I love how the dial-up modem requires that the rotary phone handset be placed on top of it before connecting — and just the fact that the computer owner is introduced with “owns home computer”!
My first experience with the internet was at least 10 years after this, around 1992, on a Mac II (with AOL 2.0), which cost $5,500 in 1987 when it first came out! Here is a picture of one:
AND HERE’S WHAT COMPUTERS AND THE INTERNET WERE LIKE IN 1981…
We sure have come a long ways in 30 years! I wonder what it will be like in another 32 years — 2045? They say the Singularity is supposed to hit us by then, so maybe we’ll store all our data in our DNA and share images telepathically and fly around with antigravity nanobots! I’ll bet few of us could have predicted back in the day that we’d all carry around these communicators which are constantly connected to the internet and act as video/audio/telegraph phones with 1 million personal secretary apps that track our every movement and remind us of what we need to do all the time! Yeah? I thought not!
by adminadam in videos
Efforts to fight piracy and limit computer functionality converge on malware/spyware being pre-installed on every machine that ships. As an example, Intel has teamed up with video streaming services in the design of their new Sandy Bridge chips, which will supposedly allow for only DRM content to be streamed in HD. (Not that you have to utilize DRM-ladden content; you can find and play things in HD on your own still, but it’s the beginning of a larger trend — i.e. cars that can be remotely shut down, iPhones whose cameras turn off at the request of the authorities, etc.)
This trend is most disturbing in particular in regimes where the populace is not media-literate enough to get around these restrictions, unlike in wealthy, western countries where we can assume, as always, someone will find a way to hack into it (or out of it). [Maybe these people: ccc.de?]
Doctorow refers to all of our iThings and other increasingly restricted forms of hardware as Appliances, but what they are, he goes on to elucidate, are general purpose computers that ship with malware inside. With SOPA and all this copyright mess what we are seeing is just the first battle of the war on general purpose computing.
by adminadam in poetry
If only I could type it in a crisper way than this
to spell out why I try and play
a buffer-role and sit
guessing at the aspirations,
how to curb chance-machinations
of our absurd, undeterred techno-globalization.
This age for cheap is offering
to keep open the gate
the flood of infotainment
acting less like food than bait
only certain spaces in which we can feed and wait.
A storm gathers just off horizon
its soundless thunder rumbles
its dark clouds heavy glint of gold,
but what rocks it holds would care
to serenely come and tumble down
on heads that do not glance around?
From this we will need shelter or at least a wary mind…
So it is that I and accompanying allies strain and scrutinize,
future-wise puzzle-piecing new maps to help us navigate a world
brimming full of bullshit and apparently-free crap.
A legacy we hope to leave
(my part albeit incomplete)
to guide those unborn future flocks of man and
the info-shocked, sadly-vision-blocked souls living
who may yet know to use discretion sometimes
in keeping open for too long their minds for just a dime.
All of us, don’t we need sound notification on the nature of
our own bloating meta-predatory creation?
It seems something is waiting to snatch up idle ripe minds
to be its bio-platforms, do its ghostly calculations,
become its meme-arrays and unknowing-slaves…
The risk is if we end up biting every byte we see
(we think this data-lunch is free)
effectively lambs feeding from its trap we will be!
Digitally-versed, the buffers’ and shepherds’ work
is to clear a path wide enough for sheep to skirt temptation,
to keep them away from the ever-swelling impulse-inertia,
their desire for satiation
that leads them to trough in underheated isolated chambers
from which all but pre-made thought can escape un-rearranged.
Beware these rains inside will fall
black stones straight through the roof,
and the sheep who do not hear the call,
those too media-jacked-in and enthralled,
will be submerged and drown aloof.
As Karl Jaspers wrote: “The human being is an open possibility, incomplete and incompletable. Hence it is always more and other than what he has brought to realisation in himself.” Nevertheless, it is our responsibility to try imagining what that human being could be at the next stage of its history.
p.234 – The Evolving Self, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Beyond Self-Actualization is of course Transcendence, which is easiest to conceptualize as the light outside of the self into which the self dissolves… Symbols are unsatisfactory at this point, suffice it to say that the non-dual awareness of the unity in the cosmos which one may or may not attempt to reach or enter into is ____________________. < Just indescribable > What we can say is that for those unique souls that can and often do make a habit of self-actualizing – it is to you that Transcendence is most accessible and Enlightenment most tantalizingly close! … And we do hope that you stick around and help brighten up the place here a bit before you depart. : )
by adminadam in prose
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
by Harlan Ellison
Limp, the body of Gorrister hung from the pink palette; unsupported—hanging high above us in the computer chamber; and it did not shiver in the chill, oily breeze that blew eternally through the main cavern. The body hung head down, attached to the underside of the palette by the sole of its right foot. It had been drained of blood through a precise incision made from ear to ear under the lantern jaw. There was no blood on the reflective surface of the metal floor.
When Gorrister joined our group and looked up at himself, it was already too late for us to realize that, once again, AM had duped us, had had its fun; it had been a diversion on the part of the machine. Three of us had vomited, turning away from one another in a reflex as ancient as the nausea that had produced it.
Gorrister went white. It was almost as though he had seen a voodoo icon, and was afraid of the future. “Oh, God,” he mumbled, and walked away. The three of us followed him after a time, and found him sitting with his back to one of the smaller chittering banks, his head in his hands. Ellen knelt down beside him and stroked his hair. He didn’t move, but his voice came out of his covered face quite clearly.
“Why doesn’t it just do us in and get it over with? Christ, I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this.”
It was our one hundred and ninth year in the computer.
He was speaking for all of us.
Nimdok (which was the name the machine had forced him to use, because AM amused itself with strange sounds) was hallucinating that there were canned goods in the ice caverns. Gorrister and I were very dubious. “It’s another shuck,” I told them. “Like the goddam frozen elephant AM sold us. Benny almost went out of his mind over that one. We’ll hike all that way and it’ll be putrified or some damn thing. I say forget it. Stay here, it’ll have to come up with something pretty soon or we’ll die.”
Benny shrugged. Three days it had been since we’d last eaten. Worms. Thick, ropey.
Technology needs a soul injection.
Who’s gonna pay the price?
Technology needs a soul installation.
Who’s gonna pay with their life?
If we’re gonna talk about planting chips into our brains,
then first we’d really better talk about who’s using who…
’cause to me it seems an awful lot like tech is using you.
QUERIES AND QUESTIONS
→ → → → → → → → ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒
Fast Forward and we can see our souls being diluted…
⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ← ← ← ← ← ← ← ←
Which way are we really moving? Everything has been distorted.
↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔
I’ve heard technology referred to as the 7th Kingdom of Life, read a book called “What Technology Wants”, and it got me thinking that we’d better ask ourselves what we want.
Because even though inventions beg and beg and beg to be invented, we’re the ones that decide in the end how it will be. And just like, say, with an Empire or a Nation, with any Kingdom we must always ask whether it’s got any soul, or even one bit or strand of moral fiber at all. So, does it? — Is this kingdom not lacking in soul?
And this we must continue to ask, because the (empty) Kingdom will, lacking any noble purpose, crumble from trying too quickly to build itself up to greater heights. And if it is truly a Kingdom of Life, then we probably don’t want it to fall at all…
by adminadam in articles
The words of Max More are too well composed, too precise to emulate, so I have decided to provide a simple introduction and then let the rest speak for itself. The original, The Extropian Principles 3.o, is also to be found here on Max More’s own site.
The term ‘transhumanist’ comes with significant baggage concerning the ethics or unethical-ness of modifying the human body and mind — indeed this is one of the foundational principles in Extropianism/Transhumanism — that of ‘hacking’ and ‘modding’ our essence, so to speak. Neo-luddites site this and our oft-demonstrated inability to reign in progress before significant disruption of the biosphere occurs, just look at the recent BP oil spill, or Chernobyl, or Global Climate Change/Chaos, or the Pacific Plastic Swarm for examples. Neo-luddites in particular (in addition to many other concerned citizens) have a number of justifiably rational fears about new technologies and their implications, such as nanobots and the grey-goo scenario. But in the words of the great Isaac Asimov, “If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them”.
Transhumanism and Extropianism are, of course, centered on progress. And although progress can lead to its own fair share of problems, the goal in Extropianism/Transhumanism is also to discover innovative ways of preventing the kind of greed-fueled disasters for which science and capitalism are often blamed. So, let’s not oversimplify by saying that Neo-luddites are anti-progress and Extropians are pro-. I would like to argue that Extropians are neither extremist nor hyper-capitalist when it comes to progress, but that they take the long view on the development of civilization in general.
Transhumanism and Extropianism are philosophical frameworks that provide a rationale for expanding our knowledge of ourselves, our knowledge of the universe, and our ability to affect change in those two realms.
“No mysteries are sacrosanct, no limits unquestionable; the unknown will yield to the ingenious mind. We seek to understand the universe, not to tremble before mystery, as we continue to learn and grow and enjoy our lives ever more.”
To dig a little deeper, we can say that the Extropian’s work is to push the bounds of science and philosophy in attempts to improve not only the human situation and human conditions, but also our capacity to understand and innovate further. But this is nothing new; humans have been building up these capacities since before we diverged from other apes. Every survival-enhancing behavior and trait gained since that point has led us here: enhanced social skills, complex displays of emotions, tool use, language, agriculture, mathematics, writing… All these things have served to further and spread innovation in our species in a directional arrow of evolution. And what that arrow points to is, in fact, of the greatest concern to Extropians: the reduction of entropy to the greatest possible point — metaphorically that is; by way of increasing extropy (definitions below).
Were our species to die out, it is not certain that any others would come into our place as intelligent, tool-using, environment-manipulating mammals with a capacity for language and empathy. It is all these traits that have made our civilization possible, and to be fair, a bit unstable. The Extropian has considered many of the existential risks we face and seeks, to the greatest extent possible, to gather, maintain, and make permanent the genetic, cultural, philosophical, and technological innovations that have emerged on our planet. And the best way to do this is to continue to build upon what we have done, to reach past our limits and imagine even greater accomplishments and greater enlightenment, and more freedom and equality for everyone.
The meme thus comes off sounding quite naive and idealistic, at times with a libertarian/anti-authoritarian streak, and perhaps with the feel of a cult. But if anything, this is a cult dedicated to the intentional evolution of our species, in the best ways possible. And, as we will see, we have already been modifying ourselves significantly since the beginning of civilization. Books are a medium of information transfer that brought about significant innovation. Tools are a part of our heritage that pass themselves on through usefulness alone. Medicine is surely a ‘hack’ for our natural, biological operating systems, so to speak. And who is to say that we should abandon any of the more recent knowledge sharing engines like the internet, even if it creates new problems while solving older ones. What else can we expect but to be confronted with new limits when we break down the old? And that is precisely what Extropianism prepares us to expect. Entropy is a worthy adversary and, ultimately, our species is in a race against time. So without further ado, I present:
THE EXTROPIAN PRINCIPLES — Version 3.0
A Transhumanist Declaration, ©1998. By Max More.
EXTROPY — the extent of a system’s intelligence, information, order, vitality, and capacity for improvement.
EXTROPIANS — those who seek to increase extropy.
EXTROPIANISM — the evolving transhumanist philosophy of extropy.
Extropianism is a transhumanist philosophy. The Extropian Principles define a specific version or “brand” of transhumanist thinking. Like humanists, transhumanists favor reason, progress, and values centered on our well being rather than on an external religious authority. Transhumanists take humanism further by challenging human limits by means of science and technology combined with critical and creative thinking. We challenge the inevitability of aging and death, and we seek continuing enhancements to our intellectual abilities, our physical capacities, and our emotional development. We see humanity as a transitory stage in the evolutionary development of intelligence. We advocate using science to accelerate our move from human to a transhuman or posthuman condition. As physicist Freeman Dyson has said: “Humanity looks to me like a magnificent beginning but not the final word.”
These Principles are not presented as absolute truths or universal values. The Principles codify and express those attitudes and approaches affirmed by those who describe themselves as “Extropian”. Extropian thinking offers a basic framework for thinking about the human condition. This document deliberately does not specify particular beliefs, technologies, or conclusions. These Principles merely define an evolving framework for approaching life in a rational, effective manner unencumbered by dogmas that cannot survive scientific or philosophical criticism. Like humanists we affirm an empowering, rational view of life, yet seek to avoid dogmatic beliefs of any kind. The Extropian philosophy embodies an inspiring and uplifting view of life while remaining open to revision according to science, reason, and the boundless search for improvement.
1. Perpetual Progress — Seeking more intelligence, wisdom, and effectiveness, an indefinite lifespan, and the removal of political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-actualization and self-realization. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and possibilities. Expanding into the universe and advancing without end.
2. Self-Transformation — Affirming continual moral, intellectual, and physical self-improvement, through critical and creative thinking, personal responsibility, and experimentation. Seeking biological and neurological augmentation along with emotional and psychological refinement.
3. Practical Optimism — Fueling action with positive expectations. Adopting a rational, action-based optimism, in place of both blind faith and stagnant pessimism.
4. Intelligent Technology — Applying science and technology creatively to transcend “natural” limits imposed by our biological heritage, culture, and environment. Seeing technology not as an end in itself but as an effective means towards the improvement of life.
5. Open Society — Supporting social orders that foster freedom of speech, freedom of action, and experimentation. Opposing authoritarian social control and favoring the rule of law and decentralization of power. Preferring bargaining over battling, and exchange over compulsion. Openness to improvement rather than a static utopia.
6. Self-Direction — Seeking independent thinking, individual freedom, personal responsibility, self-direction, self-esteem, and respect for others.
7. Rational Thinking — Favoring reason over blind faith and questioning over dogma. Remaining open to challenges to our beliefs and practices in pursuit of perpetual improvement. Welcoming criticism of our existing beliefs while being open to new ideas.
1. PERPETUAL PROGRESS
Extropians seek continual improvement in ourselves, our cultures, and our environments. We seek to improve ourselves physically, intellectually, and psychologically. We value the perpetual pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Extropians question traditional assertions that we should leave human nature fundamentally unchanged in order to conform to “God’s will” or to what is considered “natural”. Like our intellectual cousins, the humanists, we seek continued progress in all directions. We go beyond many humanists in proposed fundamental alterations in human nature in pursuit of these improvements. We question traditional, biological, genetic, and intellectual constraints on our progress and possibility.
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