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    THE FUTURE WAS HERE! circa 1854
    Anyone who feels comfortable with tradition should feel comfortable with the future because it's a long standing tradition. It was during a lecture about the developmental stages of ancient civilization, as I looked around at all the students feverishly typing their notes on laptops, that I had the most acute sense that merging with computers, extending the lifespan, and migrating into space were absolutely logical evolutionary probabilities. While a large majority of the population might still think such a conviction outlandish, it's not at all new or novel, it's a conviction with plenty of historical precedent.

    Nikolai Fyodorov by Leonid Pasternak

    I recently visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology and watched a movie called The Common Task made by David Wilson, the museum's founder. The film was about 2 soviet men who had big dreams for humanity's future in space. The first, Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov, wrote several articles during the mid 19th century that boiled down humanity's most significant tasks to: increasing intelligence, becoming immortal, and colonizing space. These ideas echo almost precisely the 20th century ambitions of futurist Timothy Leary, whose SMIILE acronym stood for Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, and Life Extension. In the 21st century the most outspoken proponent for the future, Ray Kurzweil, outlines a strikingly similar "common task". There is a long list of amazing thinkers and doers who've shared at least part of this vision throughout history, such as Olaf Stapledon, Arthur C Clake, Vernor Vinge, Eric Drexler etc.

    This task, it would seem, is a decidedly human ambition, it's a hunger that, century after century suffers setbacks as well as gains, but never ceases to occupy our thoughts.

    This image of the future has cycled through human culture enough times by now that, it would seem, people are warming up to the possibility of getting smarter, living longer, and venturing further into space, but it's still incredible how often people feel alienated by the idea of such a future, so, in an effort to soothe those anxieties I offer the following point of view:

    The future is as warm and fuzzy as your favorite teddy bear, and its been around since long before you were born.

    MIT's "Huggable" robotic teddy bear

    Sat, Jun 20, 2009  Permanent link

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