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Old May 3 2012, 04:46 AM   #75
Crazy Eddie
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Re: What are your top 5 technologies of the next 15 years?

RAMA wrote: View Post
What history books are you reading? The United States has been at war pretty much continuously since its inception. Sixty five percent of our GDP is military spending, as is eighty percent of our national debt. We spent the first decade of the twenty first century involved in not one but TWO major land wars and are peripherally involved in four others.
The violence of our age is generally over-represented in the media.
Who said anything about the media? I'm talking about HISTORY. I live in a country that exists the way it does specifically because it fought a series of extremely violent wars against the native population of the Americas, punctuated by an extremely violent CIVIL war, followed by an equally violent war against Spain, followed by the occupation of the Philippines (which lasted until WW-II and was arguably more contentious than the occupation of Iraq), and that's just the first half of its history BEFORE involvement in two world wars and the subsequent Cold War (which includes Korea, Vietnam and a dozen different proxy wars).

The most you can say is that global military competition is no greater today than it was 200 years ago, but only insofar as there are fewer participants wielding far greater power.

We have a tendency to turn the past into a golden age, but it's not really so...
Indeed: if our history books were written only slightly differently, the battle against Hitler and the Axis powers would have been labelled "World War VI".

It's significant, though, that these massive global wars tend to happen every hundred and fifty years or so and usually come in threes, with each one being significantly more violent than the last one. The same technology you're advertising as the savior of humanity has masked the fact that we are now unleashing more firepower in smaller conflicts and inflicting greater damage in a shorter amount of time than ever before in history; indeed, we are fast approaching a time when we will not even need nuclear weapons to lay waste to entire cities.

Social evolution tends to lag behind, but I would argue that it still moves at least parallel with technological development.
Here you're assuming that social evolution -- or ANY form of evolution -- is inherently progressive. That is a false assumption in the extreme.

Evolution takes any number of shapes, for better or for worse, whichever new form is best suited to its environment. A society where aggressive/dishonest/selfish people are more successful tends to proliferate in those characteristics. Introducing new technologies to that society won't change that balance unless it is intentionally distributed to individuals with different traits; in a free market scenario, it's more likely that the people who are already prospering under the existing order will adopt that technology first and they will drive the next phase of its development to their own advantage.

In other words: in a world ruled by tigers, the invention of gunpowder probably won't benefit the zebras.

Aside from the above Steve Pinker links, we can see the world reaction to wars and events since the 60s, protests and so on. Such points of view were not to be found in earlier wars to any great degree.
Because we all know Henry David Thoreau spent a night in jail to protest the Vietnam war.

According to Hans Rosling, social/health/organizational changes help increase influence more before wealth does. Developing countries that gain wealth and influence solve social problems first to a great degree.
True as that is, we're discussing technology, not social/healthcare/organizational progress. Technology is developing at a fairly rapid pass, and the developing world is accumulating large pockets of material wealth. They are NOT, however, making any headway with their social/health/organizational problems, and adding new technology isn't going to change that.

As far as the singularity goes, this is a totally different animal. I've already shared some thoughts on it, I feel we will perceive the world totally different after that point, and a transhuman transition period beforehand will make us more enlightened.
We're already beyond the singularity with respect to our pre-industrial ancestors. On some level we know this, which is why we tend to prefer to the period of the late 17th and 18th centuries as "the Enlightenment."

A new social order did indeed emerge from that transitional period, and compared to their forebearers they were extremely enlightened. They were SO enlightened that they subsequently reduced 4 million people to chattel slavery and ethnically cleansed an entire continent of its technologically inferior population before laying claim to the land themselves.

Let's not loose sight of the very real possibility that the "transhumanist movement" could be dominated by an elitist clique of technocrats that see the rest of the human race as a clan of backwards primitives who are better off being enslaved or at least tightly contained if only for their own good. In that sense, the dire predictions of science fiction (The Terminator/The Matrix et al) make a lot more sense when the Evil Machines are actually former human beings who have used technology to transcend their own humanity.

And who would we be to argue with them, anyway? They are the "enlightened" trans-humanists, which is really just another way of saying "Too smart to care what the primitives think."

Not alone it doesn't but more than ever it provides tools to do so. The people and gov't that don't change agendas will be left behind.
That's my point. Many of those oppressive governments will (and have) change their agendas in order to remain relevant, and they will grasp that very same technology in order to do it.

The use of these tools isn't supposition, it's already in evidence around the world.
Indeed. Here's one really good example.

Technology makes EVERYTHING easier, and it doesn't pick and choose who it benefits. When oppressive governments and militaries decide to invest in technology, their oppressive agenda becomes that much easier to implement. Those who oppose them have to grasp the same technologies in order to be relevant at all; those without access to those advanced technologies might as well be gun-toting apes that their enemies can bomb with impunity and even the media no longer notices or cares what happens to them.

Beyond any singularity event, ultimately "Enlightenment" means never having to say you're sorry for massacring savages.
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