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Old May 20 2012, 08:58 PM   #112
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Re: What are your top 5 technologies of the next 15 years?

You haven't done much to back up the idea that the internet is an enabling technology, let alone the idea that internet access in and of itself is sufficient to offset the global income gap when more advanced technologies are less likely to proliferate at the same time.
I think this probably just scratches the surface of what 3 billion new minds, contributors, consumers, etc will add to the human situation in 2020 onward, but here goes:

Politics and political revolutions

The Internet has achieved new relevance as a political tool. The presidential campaign of Howard Dean in 2004 in the United States was notable for its success in soliciting donation via the Internet. Many political groups use the Internet to achieve a new method of organizing in order to carry out their mission, having given rise to Internet activism, most notably practiced by rebels in the Arab Spring.[63][64]
The New York Times suggested that social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter helped people organize the political revolutions in Egypt where it helped certain classes of protesters organize protests, communicate grievances, and disseminate information.[65]
The potential of the Internet as a civic tool of communicative power was thoroughly explored by Simon R. B. Berdal in his thesis of 2004:
As the globally evolving Internet provides ever new access points to virtual discourse forums, it also promotes new civic relations and associations within which communicative power may flow and accumulate. Thus, traditionally ... national-embedded peripheries get entangled into greater, international peripheries, with stronger combined powers... The Internet, as a consequence, changes the topology of the "centre-periphery" model, by stimulating conventional peripheries to interlink into "super-periphery" structures, which enclose and "besiege" several centres at once.[66] ” Berdal, therefore, extends the Habermasian notion of the Public sphere to the Internet, and underlines the inherent global and civic nature that intervowen Internet technologies provide. To limit the growing civic potential of the Internet, Berdal also notes how "self-protective measures" are put in place by those threatened by it:
If we consider China’s attempts to filter "unsuitable material" from the Internet, most of us would agree that this resembles a self-protective measure by the system against the growing civic potentials of the Internet. Nevertheless, both types represent limitations to "peripheral capacities". Thus, the Chinese government tries to prevent communicative power to build up and unleash (as the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising suggests, the government may find it wise to install "upstream measures"). Even though limited, the Internet is proving to be an empowering tool also to the Chinese periphery: Analysts believe that Internet petitions have influenced policy implementation in favour of the public’s online-articulated will...
I've already brought up the economic impact, the world economy will never implode, this is a HUGE market...representing trillions of dollars, even though they are from poorer countries.

There are a million ways to do things, certainly. There is, however, only one BEST way to do things, with "best" being defined as that which is most likely to succeed so far as the goals we set. Experience tells me that any endeavor that depends entirely on a new revolutionary untried technology is doomed to either failure or such limited success as to never fully realize its goals. So the Von Neuman Machines -- or any other fanciful high tech approach, up to and including space elevators, launch loops, space tethers, laser-based propulsion, airship/stratolaunch or SSTO spaceplanes -- suffers from an inherent catch-22: the only way to make them effective is to use them ALOT, and the only way to use them a lot is to send an assload of people into space to develop them in the first place.
Ah, but such machines are cheaper, easier, more numerous and far more likely to succeed than expensive, unwieldy spacecraft, with or without human crews. Unless there are new developments in price-performance of powerplants, or discoveries of shortcuts in space, this will be the best way to go...see the aforementioned video clip.

Which means that ultimately NONE of those technologies will make space exploration possible in and of themselves. Those technologies will make space exploration EASIER, and considerably cheaper, and possibly even safer. The catch is that none of those technologies will develop until they are widely tested and used, which means that mankind does not have the luxury of waiting until space exploration gets easier, cheaper or safer. If we're going to do it, we'll still have to send people into space by the hundreds up there to establish a frontier where those technologies can be used and mature, and we're also going to have to learn to be comfortable with the idea that ALOT of the people we send into space are going to die up there. Until we take those first developmental (and psychological) steps, everything else is just fantasy.
Humans may follow AFTER...or they MAY not...maybe they will explore inwardly for awhile, using a thought process we can barely grasp. What we may do eventually is--again--the cheaper--easier, more sensible thing and not travel into space at all(suspended animation: prob not, generational ships: not very likely to last..), but to send DNA and information about that original subject by laser or in a storage bank aboard a ship, and re-create us there...

quote]If they're going to "evolve" that on their own it'll take a timescale similar -- though probably much longer -- to natural evolution, since those machines do not procreate and the variation between one generation and the next is vanishingly small (besides the fact that the evolutionary pressure towards emotions or "humanlike features" is virtually zero).
On this timescale issue, I not only think you are wrong, but resoundingly so. In some cases the evolutionary approach is exactly what AI researchers are taking, bypassing having to program all data into a computer, they allow the AI to learn (bottom up). At the point the AI(s) reach human intelligence, then intelligence of the whole planet, they may well go in any direction, human personality or not, it would be possible! As for procreation of intelligent species, well its very human-centric now isn't it? Of course of machine can create intelligent copies or MORE intelligent copies of themselves, its certainly procreation in a different form. Since we are creating these AI ourselves, we can even bypass other parts of evolution in organic brains, the building of newer onto older parts of the brain...technically, we've already gotten to a level of AI evolution much faster than nature ever did!

Monkey level AI in 50 years: 1950-2000(much faster than nature):

Marovec, computer hardware matching the human brain:
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan

Last edited by RAMA; May 20 2012 at 09:26 PM.
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