Member 1551
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Immortal since Jan 28, 2008
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  • adastra’s projects
    Branding the Species
    Background: Voyager’s Interstellar record is a disk with encoded information that was attached to two space probes currently making their...

    The Voyager update project
    Description has not yet been created.
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    From adastra's personal cargo

    Perched on a Knee (a beginning)
    Project: The Voyager update project
    "The further backward you look, the further forward you can see"
    — Winston Churchill

    For us, (and maybe others) this project started rather simply as an attempt to send lps to aliens. Within the span of four weeks, however, we've moved through everything from Esperanto to One Wilshire, beaming the internet to deconstructing the cell, pie catapults and postcards made of digital signals, to blasting out semicentenially-addended time capsules aimed at Gliese 581, and attempting to define intelligence, discuss the essence of humanity (its language, perception and expression), while at the same time dismiss our inherent biases...

    Of course, the further we push into the future (or from another point of view, the longer we wait to get there), the more we find there is left to discover. In the context of our project, then, the universe was most definitely expanding...until we were confronted with a pretty momentous idea: The Singularity is Near.

    A key player in Kurzweil's book is The Law of Accelerating Returns, which stipulates that "within several decades information-based technology technologies will encompass all human knowledge and proficiency, ultimately including the pattern-recognition powers, problem-solving skills, and emotional and moral intelligence of the human brain itself." This moment, this paradigm shift, is what he calls the Singularity.

    According to Kurzweil, "The future is widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected it to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past....But the future will be far more surprising than most people realize, because few observers have truly internalized the implications of the fact that the rate of change itself is accelerating."

    Both biological evolution and human technology show continual acceleration, as evidenced by the increasingly shorter time between events (two billion years from the origin of life to cells; fourteen years from the PC to the world wide web..). Our growth (intelligence) is both exponential and seductive—multiplied by a constant; and explosive after what is called the knee of the curve. Our predictions about future developments, he says, has followed an "intuitive linear" view (which the beginning stages of exponential growth seem to confirm), rather than the more accurate "historical exponential" view. Both frightening and exhilarating is the fact that after this knee of the curve, we can expect nearly vertical progress.

    Things that demonstrate this exponential potential include:

    1. Adoption of the phone industry vs. cell phone industry—it took about half a century for the invention of the telephone to reach significant levels of usage; it took the cell phone only a decade.
    2. The duration of observation/memory— Single-cell animals could remember things for a couple seconds based on chemical reactions; animals with brains could keep things for days, primates with culture for several generations; with written language, we've extended this to thousands of years.
    3. The overall rate of adopting new paradigms (which parallels the rate of technological progress)— it is currently doubling every decade.

    Armed with these insights, our focus has shifted from contacting extraterrestrial life forms to something we had flirted with much earlier; expressing identity and maintaining relevance to (our future extrapolations of) ourselves. Of course, this is something humankind has toyed around with since the beginning (if there was one): attempting to isolate what it is that makes us so (or not so) singularly human, arriving perhaps at the realization that the search is essentially futile, and finally striking some cosmic bargain with metaphysical truths for the simple sake of sanity...

    Poised at this imminent juncture, this crucial point of the curve, we're choosing not to broadcast simply outward, but rather to turn our consciousness (or our conscious explorations) inward and, necessarily, forward.

    If we're going to bust a knee, at least let's go out kicking.

    Mon, Feb 4, 2008  Permanent link

    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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    Orizyn     Mon, Feb 4, 2008  Permanent link
    And could it be that PV and such will soon make the Great Oil Century just a time we look at as an event that took as long to clean up after as it did to develop and exploit?