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 john allen (M)los angeles, US Immortal since Jan 11, 2008 Uplinks: 0, Generation 2
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 From johnallenThe Future of Us From
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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.
The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington engineering mid-term. The answer was so "profound" that the Professor shared it with colleagues, and the sharing obviously hasn't ceased...

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or Endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote Proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law, (gas cools off when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let us look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa Banyan during my Freshman year, "...that it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you.", and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then, #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze."

This student received the only A.
- Unknown
Mon, Oct 24, 2011  Permanent link

Thu, Sep 15, 2011  Permanent link

I have had this notion that has haunted me for months now : Man can't wait to be a machine. Everywhere I look I see the inexplicable passion for all things digital and man made. Technology has inextricably permeated our lives. It may sound obvious and self evident but it is worth another look.

After reading The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, which proposes that to a plant, a bee and a gardener are the same. That is to say, they both do the work of the plant to perpetuate it's species. Meanwhile man thinks he is in control, tending to the plant because he likes the taste of the fruit or the color of the flower, but in fact it is the plant that has him running around doing the work of propagation by 'consciously' forming it's fruit to the liking of man.

I have the same feeling about the computer. Man is working hard to propagate the various species of technology, improving artificial intelligence at exponential rates, thinking all along that it is to his own benefit. Which it may be, but in the end when the computer has taken over all the functions of it's host, will man still be of use? Could man stand as a threat to the perpetuation of the species, or will we just continue to merge as one bio-mechanical super species?

Blue tooth phones are going the way of tattoos and piercings, getting under our skin and preparing us for the RIFD chip (the tiny chip that contains all of your personal information from passport and licenses to bank credit and political affiliations). Now worn by many pets 'for their own security'. It won't take much to convince us that it is right that everyone should (we don't want another 9-11).

Sexy robots beckon from billboards and computer screens. Our notions of perfection and beauty seem to be best fulfilled by cosmetic surgery, implants and eventually the much awaited gene manipulation.
I mean, what parent in their right mind would not choose to eliminate the genetic propensity for acne and Down Syndrome? And why not give her blue eyes, blonde hair and sportive buttocks while you're in there.

I saw a guy with artificial legs leaping down Hollywood Boulevard and I thought, it will not take long before everyone wants a pair of those, I want a pair - they are superior to 'the god given' ones.

Ray Kurzweil, the inventor of the scanner among other things, is one of the most celebrated, if not the most controversial futurists these days. He confirmed my thoughts, and fears recently. I found his predictions on the subject obtained by running the research done by a team of 12, through his algorithms extrapolating trends into near future scenarios that sound perfectly legitimate, repellant and thoroughly thought provoking.

By his benchmarks, the year 2029 will mark singularity, the point at which the distinction between man and machine will be essentially eliminated. Because we will have nanotechnology, molecular size robots running through our blood stream fixing this and that where nature has 'failed'. Internal memory enhancements to the brain will be standard fare along with reprograming of DNA and chemical chains making us superheroes in our own image.

Kurzweil announces all this with the enthusiasm motivated by his commitment to extend life expectancy infinitely. A simple extraction of these predictions make you wonder if it's LIFE that he's talking about. How do we draw the line for the human rights given to a man made machine that was born? It's all very strange and very futuristic.

But I am convinced by now that there is no one future but many which we can choose from, if we are present enough to read the roadsigns. If we keep going in the direction we are going, we are bound to end up where we are headed.
Tue, Sep 13, 2011  Permanent link

When the life insurance guy called encouraging me bump up my plan from term insurance to whole life as they call it, I told him to just cancel the whole thing now. Because when he explained how much money my monthly allotments would add up to and I asked him where all that money goes, he couldn't tell me.

He assured me that they had a 100 year history of the strongest money market management etc. I asked him for a list of company names where the money was actually invested and he came back with a half dozen names of corporations that I considered the enemy of any form of sustainable or socially conscientious practices.

It dawned on me that all this time I had paid for life insurance as an "investment in the future of my wife and kids", as he put it. What good would a million dollars do my children when I die if the corporations I 'invest' in have bought the air, the water, the sunlight and the food source, to own and destroy in whatever fashion best serves the shareholders.

I asked the broker if there were any life insurance company out there that invested in life-assuring enterprises. He simply said "no, there's no profit in it". no profit in it.... Wow, I told him, if he ever started a company like that I would find him 1 million customers and I would be the first.

It occurs to me now that if an honest business person stepped up to the task, the profit in such an enterprise would be self fulfilling. Register your vote with a comment.

Tue, Sep 13, 2011  Permanent link