Member 1535
22 entries

(M, 30)
Immortal since Jan 24, 2008
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3
Interests: nanotech, religion, philosophy, language, morality, self-deceit, instinct, bigotry, dancing, loving, hating & chemistry. I'm not particularly well suited to small talk.
  • Affiliated
  •  /  
  • Invited
  •  /  
  • Descended
  • dragon’s favorites
    From shandora
    We Come In Peace
    From Reckon
    Switchgrass Bioplastics
    From Robokku
    Living the lives of...
    From Rourke
    An Appendix: Logos vs...
    From rene
    Virtual Bodies, Virtual...
    Recently commented on
    From AsylumSeaker
    [no title]
    From BenRayfield
    Multiverse Branch Is...
    From dragon
    We're all little cogs
    "Only the madman is...
    From dragon
    dragon’s projects
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    The great enhancement debate
    What will happen when for the first time in ages different human species will inhabit the earth at the same time? The day may be upon us when people...
    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 dragon's personal cargo

    Not stirred, but shaken...
    What if tomorrow you woke up in Africa, 30,000 years before today? Exactly how much knowledge do you possess that would make you any better at surviving than anyone else there? Sure, you were savvy enough to build a time machine in your sleep, an awe-inspiring achievement! But; and there's always a but, when you were transported back you landed stark naked without it.

    Similar question to what happens if the Internet dies, all the satellites fall out of the sky, the power, water and gas grids were all to stop functioning. What survival skills have you got?

    My basic point is this, we live in a world of very complex tools. I am sitting next to a portable hard-drive, I know how it reads and writes information and then stores them in magnetic dipoles. I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to build or fix one. I know how to perform simple chemical reactions given some chemicals, could probably develop a simple pathway to make something of interest even. I can perform complex ones given instructions. Given a bunch of plants and organic matter to start from, I wouldn't be able to separate out all of the chemicals I wanted for the life of me without another bunch of chemicals, some instructions and some rather unique pieces of equipment. And I'm on the smarter side of average, continuing a scientific education. My knowledge of finance or law is squat. Arts? Nope.

    What about everyone else? How much do you actually know about the world around you? Would you be able to pick out the plants you could eat inside a jungle? Could you start a fire by rubbing some sticks together? Would you be able to defend yourself if a wild boar wanted a piece? In your workplace, when something simple fucks up, why do we need someone else to fix it?

    "Is it plugged in?, did you try turning it off an on again?"

    There are way too many systems that currently operate in the world for any one person to properly understand; biological, inter-human, quantum mechanical, mechanical, etc etc not to mention political. Jeepers creepers. So we have experts in these fields. But they don't know everything either. In fact the further you go up the pyramid the more you find out they don't know. And this trend seems to be increasing evermore. Speaking to PhD students, they have more questions than answers.

    And then we are faced with people everywhere who claim to know things. Absolute things. Truths. And if we sidestep the subjectivity argument, where in no objective truth can feasibly exist, and imagine for a second that the universe around us does exist in a very tangible way - i.e. quarks and leptons are real, what then? We are spawning preachers out of experts, who can say what they like to push their own funding, silence honest critics with money and warp what's considered truth for the rest of us. Still, we have no trouble believing what we want to believe and ignoring the protests of friends, family and even lovers.

    The conclusion, I took a roundabout way of getting at here - is that none of us know shit, but most of us lay claim to mountains. And we are getting progressively dumber not to mention complacent, ignorant and self-righteous. I can envisage a world run by machines, that will be the downfall of humanity. A world we built so we could be lazier, and sit in front of the television all day. A world that will consume us, not because it decides too - but because somewhere a screw came loose and a gear stopped turning. And nobody will have the faintest idea how to fix it.

    This scares me...

    Sun, Sep 19, 2010  Permanent link

      RSS for this post
      Promote (3)
      Add to favorites
    Create synapse

    Fast T     Mon, Sep 20, 2010  Permanent link
    The issue here is interesting on many levels. Your point of view seems quite realistic, and the facts you present are backed up by some well known data. As I recall it takes about 5,000 people to produce a computer mouse (including the plastic parts, oil needed for producing the plastic, etc.). With it, I would like to approach it from an outlook that takes into account the nature of knowledge and the evolution of our specie in relation to knowledge, and perhaps look at it in a less bleak fashion.

    It seems to me that knowledge is a group effort, and has been throughout our evolution as a specie. The advances of our civilization lie heavily on collaboration, and our brains developed in tandem with our socializing nature. I do not see how we can turn that around, however I do think that we need to invest in optimizing and improving our collaborative grid. I find that this stage of our life as specie is shedding more light on that direction, and our technologies are put to work in support of it. Perhaps we need to reconcile to that and participate more actively in it. Taking steps toward maintaining and improving the collaboration and preventing those aspects of our civilization that are threatening this direction (wars, weapons, exploits and lack of care at large).

    Another point I find interesting is that human civilization and for that matter, evolution itself, has no guarantee for preserving a particular state of affairs or order. Pressures of all kinds bring about changes. Some catastrophic to the prevailing ones.

    We are temporary and have always been that way. Must we be scared? I don’t know, I’d like to think that we accumulated enough knowledge to realize that a future, any future will (1) be different from whatever expectations we might hold and (2) at least in some measures may be affected by our attitudes, actions and imagination.
    These two may seem contradictory, but that is part of our reality:)

    From my point of view, I know I know nothing, and that in itself is a knowing not new to anyone who takes a good look at life; that doesn’t imply not outreaching myself in partaking in the evolution of knowledge.

    Just some thoughts in response to this post. Thanks for putting it out here to incite it.

    Infinitas     Mon, Sep 20, 2010  Permanent link
    We are spawning preachers out of experts, who can say what they like to push their own funding, silence honest critics with money and warp what's considered truth for the rest of us. Still, we have no trouble believing what we want to believe and ignoring the protests of friends, family and even lovers.

    For the past couple weeks I've specifically been thinking of members of the political mass media as preachers... it is scary.

    This whole situation is a double edged sword. We need experts because the will go to edge and back to obtain vital information and knowledge. But then, since they are experts, they themselves have a certain power over others with even more power from all the money that is potentially backing them up. So, is what we do in the name of science and for the benefit for humanity just a mask for something else? Look what's happening. Corporations are becoming richer and much, much more powerful to the extent that they can highly influence our elected politicians and their political decisions. And the average person is becoming more dependent on these experts, the government and the corporations that we are basically in need of to survive in this monetary world.
    A world that will consume us, not because it decides too - but because somewhere a screw came loose and a gear stopped turning. And nobody will have the faintest idea how to fix it.

    Firstly, this reminds me of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, in which he describes life/nature/existence being "automata", or like an engine with wheels and springs. Perhaps, in this metaphor, a screw coming loose could be akin to saying that humans have opted out of following the so-called "natural" way to create their own "synthetic" path through life?

    And secondly, have you considered the thought that, what if that screw was turned loose on purpose? Potentially, the few (gov't, corporations, and their "expert" offspring) have everything to gain (money, power), while the average person has everything to lose (independence, wealth). If they are as greedy and corrupt as they seem like it, I don't see what's stopping them from sneakily altering our society to benefit them in every possible way.

    For example, the whole net neutrality issue. Also, just the other day I read this. Verizon would like to put 4G LTE capabilities inside of virtually every electronic machine from coffee makers to cars to MRI machines. We would become more and more dependent on Verizon because of this. But the major question I want to put forth is this (and hmm maybe this could be my next post as well): are we better off under the thumb of gov't and these mega-corporations or left alone to pursue our own survivability at our own risk?
    meika     Mon, Sep 20, 2010  Permanent link
    To be transhuman will basically mean to be able to incorporate diverse knowledge more easily. As our attention wanders, from notice to care, our ability to bring to our intension all the deep knowledge of the 5000 minds to make a mouse will set us apart. All that will remain of our pre-trans days will be our personality, or attitudes, or perhaps just an expression, a raised eyebrow…

    Will it be enough?
    Eli Horn     Tue, Sep 21, 2010  Permanent link
    I like the philosophical musings this thought generates, but I must say that the practical aspects which are originally mentioned are pretty interesting in themselves. It has often seemed to me that we have a tendency to create an environment much more complex than it needs to be. It means that instead of our being individuals in control of our own day to day lives, instead we are at the will of some system or another of professional service peoples (plumbers, electricians, energy & communications suppliers, pharmacists, psychologists, etc...). It certainly doesn't make one feel empowered.

    I recently moved out of the city for the summer and into the beautiful East Kootenays in BC. One of the things which struck me the most was the amount of people who were learning, practicing & sharing such basic practical skills you speak of. It's no exageration either—there is a school called the Pathways School which teaches about wild and medicinal edibles, tanning hide, story telling and communication, tracking deer, chinese medicine, and yes, how to make a fire with two sticks. You can see a good overview of their courses here.

    As much as these things excite me, I won't pretend that I would rather give up my lighter for two sticks, or wrap my loins in buckskin, but I do think the lack of knowledge of real, practical skills outside of our complex societies could be high stakes. It's kind of like putting all of our eggs into one manner of existence.

    Aside from those points though, the simple sociological implications for a society such as ours in which each participant relies on the formal system of the society itself for basic survival seems important to consider. It would be interesting to see what the participation in learning and sharing basic survival skills could do for the psyche of an individual, and in turn a society.

    As Fast T points out—our group effort is an asset and collaboration can only be evolved to produce an even more positive effect. Whether we are learning skills from our hunter-gatherer past, or for our hyper-connected future, if we had a more 'human' system of collaboration that built physical connections and a palpable community of people, I for one would feel much safer when I hear that loose screw rattling.

    are we better off under the thumb of gov't and these mega-corporations or left alone to pursue our own survivability at our own risk?

    As is often the answer, I think we would be better off somewhere in between. Neither extreme is sustainable, or even appealing—we can't go it alone, but should we allow someone else to tell us how to go? Somewhere in there is a balance between the individual and the corporation which is a community built to evolve and adapt to change, allowing for the greatest level of collaboration and the least amount of exploitation. The internet looks to be playing a big role in that, but is limited by the fact that it still relies on a service provider, making it a good deal out of our control.

    So maybe it's not just which skills we have, but how the experience of sharing and accessing those skills makes us feel as individuals, and how that effects our greater whole, and whether or not it's a sustainable way to go about it:  There's a lot of gaps in there, but maybe someone can expand...

    Bottom line—this scares me a little too...