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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old February 16 2013, 02:34 PM   #1
RAMA
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Had in an interesting experience last week...

I was posting on facebook, with some well known/famous people in scifi as well as interested parties, family and friends of those people..got into a discussion of old fashioned vs new, which turned into physical vs ebook, and physical people vs AI/mind uploading...to which one person in particular seemed determined to be negative...everything new was bad...I made a move to personal messages so as to not disrupt the original poster's thread and at first he was open, I tried giving him at least possibilities as to why the Earth was not doomed, how we might progress and salvage some of or worst mistakes...he started off by insisting no one had every changed his mind on such things and gave me permission to post some links...which I described in detail and summarized as well as posted my opinion on them...apparently he couldnt take it .. There was a lot of DATA there...It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...to actually do something? I understand the biological drives toward negativity and exposure to media memes that harm us in the information age...where we absorb the most brain stimulating and visceral items, but why is is so difficult for thinking people (and he was not a dummy) to process this?

RAMA
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Old February 16 2013, 03:41 PM   #2
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

RAMA wrote: View Post
There was a lot of DATA there...It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...
The thing is, the future dystopia is more or less already established as our ultimate fate. The heat death of the universe is coming for us, you can try uploading your brain to a computer but it won't help you. And it's not like we have a lot of options for going around it. There are only two that I can think of are on the top my head, and they are not that promising to begin with.

1. Breaking the second law of thermodynamics (or even better, the first one). Breaking laws of physics has to be somewhere in someone's famous last words, I'm sure...
2. The possibility that there's something akin to quantum immortality acting as natural selection's cousin on civilisations at the universal scale. I admin there is some comfort that our civilisation could be playing the role of the Schrödinger's cat, but I'm still doing all the arrangements for my funeral.

My personal consolation about the future is that the passage of time could turn out to be little more than a human perception that doesn't matter so much in the grand scheme of things. This would make it less relevant if our civilisation exists now, in the past or in the future.

As long as we achieve everything that we can, explore everything that we have the ability to explore, we should just be happy we had the opportunity to do it. I see no reason to complain, our present situation is amazing enough as it is, and it is only going to get better. Just not as much as we would like it, but come on, what we've been part of so far is just overwhelming and indescribable... Without imaginary breakthroughs in the future. Our potential demise won't negate what we have had the chance to experience.
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Old February 16 2013, 07:06 PM   #3
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

RAMA wrote: View Post
I was posting on facebook, with some well known/famous people in scifi as well as interested parties, family and friends of those people..got into a discussion of old fashioned vs new, which turned into physical vs ebook, and physical people vs AI/mind uploading...to which one person in particular seemed determined to be negative...everything new was bad...I made a move to personal messages so as to not disrupt the original poster's thread and at first he was open, I tried giving him at least possibilities as to why the Earth was not doomed, how we might progress and salvage some of or worst mistakes...he started off by insisting no one had every changed his mind on such things and gave me permission to post some links...which I described in detail and summarized as well as posted my opinion on them...apparently he couldnt take it .. There was a lot of DATA there...It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...to actually do something? I understand the biological drives toward negativity and exposure to media memes that harm us in the information age...where we absorb the most brain stimulating and visceral items, but why is is so difficult for thinking people (and he was not a dummy) to process this?

RAMA
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Old February 17 2013, 02:47 AM   #4
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

RAMA wrote: View Post
...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...
Not everyone bases their conclusions on what they "want" and "hope." Some folks are interested in what's actually happening.
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Old February 17 2013, 08:58 AM   #5
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

RAMA wrote: View Post
It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...
Much the way it amazes many Christians how nonbeleivers cling to their atheism.

wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...to actually do something?
Are YOU doing something? I don't know much about your background, but I never got the impression you have an active career in an IT field.

why is is so difficult for thinking people (and he was not a dummy) to process this?
Because it comes to techno-utopian/singularity theory, there are basically two categories of responses:

1) People who get dazzled right away by the hype
2) People who respond with guarded skepticism and say "I'll believe it when I see it."

The second response covers the majority of people.

The first response covers people who DON'T actually think things through but are easily moved to positive feelings by the promise of better things ahead. Some of these people are quite old, and have had this experience many times; a few of them are also fairly jaded by that experience and swing in the opposite direction, responding instead with RABID skepticism in a desire to avoid the pain of disillusionment.

The second category (most people) are cautious adapters: they don't believe the hype, but they ARE willing to celebrate actual achievements and work to further them when it seems possible to do so. The first category, by contrast, covers the "true believers" who believe that ANY hint of progress is worth celebrating and honestly don't understand the skepticism of the second category. Ironically, they find the rabid super-skeptics -- who fall into the same category -- a lot easier to relate to.
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Old February 17 2013, 05:11 PM   #6
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

The heat death of the Universe isn't that bad, you just run your computer simulation into which you've uploaded yourself slower and slower - in subjective time, there'd be no difference. Of course, if all the black holes evaporate, all the protons decay, and eventually there's only photons left, you're screwed. But you're also screwed if dark energy takes hold and the Big Rip tears everything to pieces.
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Old February 17 2013, 05:40 PM   #7
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

Asbo Zaprudder wrote: View Post
The heat death of the Universe isn't that bad, you just run your computer simulation into which you've uploaded yourself slower and slower - in subjective time, there'd be no difference. Of course, if all the black holes evaporate, all the protons decay, and eventually there's only photons left, you're screwed. But you're also screwed if dark energy takes hold and the Big Rip tears everything to pieces.
That has the same issue that the Zeno's paradox does – by using half the energy, you're getting half the simulated time, so even if you can extend the real running time of your simulation to infinity, the time of your experiences inside this infinite simulation would still be finite. Second law of thermodynamic gives you finite amount of energy to do useful work with, which gives you finite calculations and/or physical processes happening which gives you finite experiences.

Which sounds eerie similar to my understanding of the reasoning against quantum immortality – even if there is a quantum branch that saves you at each moment of death, death is still a gradual process that takes your life away bit by bit giving you less time of consciousness, in which even an eternal life would feel finite to you. That's more comforting than anything – quantum immortality is the walking definition of hell.

It seems we're screwed regardless of how inventive or lucky we get. Well, you could try splitting quarks and then splitting sub-quark particles to get out more calculations per useful energy...
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Last edited by YellowSubmarine; February 17 2013 at 05:57 PM.
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Old February 17 2013, 07:49 PM   #8
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

Heh - I hadn't thought of it in terms of Zeno's Paradox. As you say, a finite subjective time would pass in an infinite objective time. The point about quantum immortality is also interesting - being condemned to live subjectively forever might be hell as you say.

Barrow and Tipler had a theory that you could potentially "live" for (well, calculate for) an infinite subjective time in a finite objective time if the Universe were to undergo a big crunch -- another vision of hell.

It become asymptotically more difficult to extract useful (free) energy as any thermodynamic disequilibrium disappears, and it gets especially tricky after all the black holes have evaporated due to Hawking radiation (after about 10^100 years).
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Old February 17 2013, 09:06 PM   #9
RAMA
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

JoeZhang wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
I was posting on facebook, with some well known/famous people in scifi as well as interested parties, family and friends of those people..got into a discussion of old fashioned vs new, which turned into physical vs ebook, and physical people vs AI/mind uploading...to which one person in particular seemed determined to be negative...everything new was bad...I made a move to personal messages so as to not disrupt the original poster's thread and at first he was open, I tried giving him at least possibilities as to why the Earth was not doomed, how we might progress and salvage some of or worst mistakes...he started off by insisting no one had every changed his mind on such things and gave me permission to post some links...which I described in detail and summarized as well as posted my opinion on them...apparently he couldnt take it .. There was a lot of DATA there...It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...to actually do something? I understand the biological drives toward negativity and exposure to media memes that harm us in the information age...where we absorb the most brain stimulating and visceral items, but why is is so difficult for thinking people (and he was not a dummy) to process this?

RAMA
Does the future not include paragraphs or the use of full-stops?
My apologies, I was condensing down a potentially much longer rant/post and in a hurry. Normally I try to use paragraphs and periods for legibility, even though texting, BBS posting, Facebook, and Twitter have taken me somewhat out of that habit.

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Old February 17 2013, 09:14 PM   #10
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
1. Breaking the second law of thermodynamics (or even better, the first one). Breaking laws of physics has to be somewhere in someone's famous last words, I'm sure...
Making heat flow from cold to hot is pretty simple on a scale large enough where you can moving something at a measurable fraction of the speed of light.

Imagine a giant turbine where the blades move out of the way as fast as light advances down the throat, so photons moving through the turbine never collide with a wall. Then make the backsides of the turbine blades retroreflectors (or stepped flat mirrors like stair steps) so light coming from the other direction, trying to go backwards through the turbine, is reflected back to the source. Then you have a broad-spectrum one-way light path. If you put it between two objects, the infrared energy will always flow in the same direction, regardless of relative temperatures.

Unfortunately the turbine needs to have a huge radius or such a turbine would fly apart, since the blades do need to move at a small measurable fraction of the speed of light.

But there you go. I've come up with a way to save the entire universe, and am just awaiting my royalty checks from advanced alien civilizations.
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Old February 17 2013, 09:15 PM   #11
RAMA
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...
Not everyone bases their conclusions on what they "want" and "hope." Some folks are interested in what's actually happening.
When conditions exist that enable positivity in direct response for the predilection in human society towards negativity I feel it important to point them out. I feel there is equal potential for positivity (not utopia) as there is for dystopia...only the human mind feels the need for negativity. For most of the many horrible things that happen through human history you can find other equal, positive things (examples might include war, disease, poverty, etc..I can easily counter dystopians like Orson Scott Card on such issues)

Again, we live in a time where the climate of change has enabled us to be able to more easily predict and model the near future, you cannot simply be concerned with the present, because what we're doing effects the future and far more quickly than ever. Identifying problems and fixing them, or creating a way to bypass them is a direct result of being aware of the future. Being aware of technological change creates a "self fulfilling prophecy" of sorts, directing efforts to where they are needed. I have given many examples of this in the last few years on this board.

RAMA
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Old February 17 2013, 09:23 PM   #12
RAMA
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
There was a lot of DATA there...It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...
The thing is, the future dystopia is more or less already established as our ultimate fate. The heat death of the universe is coming for us, you can try uploading your brain to a computer but it won't help you. And it's not like we have a lot of options for going around it. There are only two that I can think of are on the top my head, and they are not that promising to begin with.

1. Breaking the second law of thermodynamics (or even better, the first one). Breaking laws of physics has to be somewhere in someone's famous last words, I'm sure...
2. The possibility that there's something akin to quantum immortality acting as natural selection's cousin on civilisations at the universal scale. I admin there is some comfort that our civilisation could be playing the role of the Schrödinger's cat, but I'm still doing all the arrangements for my funeral.

My personal consolation about the future is that the passage of time could turn out to be little more than a human perception that doesn't matter so much in the grand scheme of things. This would make it less relevant if our civilisation exists now, in the past or in the future.

As long as we achieve everything that we can, explore everything that we have the ability to explore, we should just be happy we had the opportunity to do it. I see no reason to complain, our present situation is amazing enough as it is, and it is only going to get better. Just not as much as we would like it, but come on, what we've been part of so far is just overwhelming and indescribable... Without imaginary breakthroughs in the future. Our potential demise won't negate what we have had the chance to experience.
Several thoughts on this: I have maintained since my teen age years that the ultimate goal of current humanity might be to survive the destruction of our sun. You may project further, then the goal might be to survive galaxy collision with Andromeda. Projecting even further...and although I do have some issues with the potential science, you might also say that human survival ultimately will mean we need to survive the end of the universe..in this case, we would need to find ways into other universes or time-space.

A good example of such staggering ideas can be found in Baxter's The Time Ships, where the goal of advanced AI/humanity is to survive into the multiverse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Ships

This is all interesting of course, but I'm really more concerned about the next 50 years right now.

RAMA
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Last edited by RAMA; February 17 2013 at 09:49 PM.
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Old February 17 2013, 09:53 PM   #13
RAMA
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
It amazes me when people are presented with opposing evidence to the current zeitgeist of future dystopia how they cling to their negativity...
Much the way it amazes many Christians how nonbeleivers cling to their atheism.

wouldnt you want to join in the hope and contribute...to actually do something?
Are YOU doing something? I don't know much about your background, but I never got the impression you have an active career in an IT field.

why is is so difficult for thinking people (and he was not a dummy) to process this?
Because it comes to techno-utopian/singularity theory, there are basically two categories of responses:

1) People who get dazzled right away by the hype
2) People who respond with guarded skepticism and say "I'll believe it when I see it."

The second response covers the majority of people.

The first response covers people who DON'T actually think things through but are easily moved to positive feelings by the promise of better things ahead. Some of these people are quite old, and have had this experience many times; a few of them are also fairly jaded by that experience and swing in the opposite direction, responding instead with RABID skepticism in a desire to avoid the pain of disillusionment.

The second category (most people) are cautious adapters: they don't believe the hype, but they ARE willing to celebrate actual achievements and work to further them when it seems possible to do so. The first category, by contrast, covers the "true believers" who believe that ANY hint of progress is worth celebrating and honestly don't understand the skepticism of the second category. Ironically, they find the rabid super-skeptics -- who fall into the same category -- a lot easier to relate to.
Nonsense, it is usually the negative response that is the knee-jerk panic attack. It takes greater care and wisdom to think things through, see what we've done right and where the areas are we can improve and fix, and where the technologies lie that realistically can do these things. Other efforts are political or social, and although these rise also with evolution, it is the technological arena that moves most quickly and is therefore most important.

Yes, though I have no educational background with IT/software/etc, I'm using some of my background and interests to further some things in some small way that I feel will eventually lead to some of the things I believe will make a difference. In particular, I've been working with virtual environments, using my art background, though I have not devoted full time to this.

Also, I'm involved with 3-4 organizations that are involved with both political and also popularization of futurism and accelerated change meme. I've contributed money, and also helped try and get a Singulatarian onto the US ballot. Only one country in the world has a publically announced Singulatarian in it's gov't.

If I was younger I'd probably seek to go to the Singularity University, which I think is the most important one in the world for leaders, economists, technologists.

Skepticism is great, I have belonged to and paid dues to skeptical organizations, unfortunately the people who say we can't do things in the future are the ones who WON'T accomplish anything, and also are usually proven wrong in the process...as has been happening the last few decades with accelerated change.

RAMA
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Old February 17 2013, 10:20 PM   #14
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

RAMA wrote: View Post
You may project further, then the goal might be to survive galaxy collision with Andromeda.
That one's easy. So long as we figure out how to deal with this basket-egg thing they keep talking about, an achievable aftermath will be:

Thousands of human civilisations get toasted by cosmic rays.
Millions of human civilisations get ejected into intergalactic space to a slow demise in agony.
Millions of human civilisations have their planets snatched by Andromeda, and subsequently colonise it.
Millions of human civilisations have interstellar wars because of the star shuffling caused by the collision.
The remaining billions of human civilisations across the galaxy do not notice that a collision had happened, and do not give a damn about the rest.

Bloody, but survivable.

Now, if we don't figure the egg-basket thing out, the ruins of the one and only human civilisation will have no difficulty roaming intact for eternity away from any star or galaxy until proton decay or quantum tunnelling takes care of them. And we would have gone with significantly less suffering.
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Old February 17 2013, 11:24 PM   #15
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Re: Had in an interesting experience last week...

RAMA wrote: View Post
then the goal might be to survive galaxy collision with Andromeda.
This comment is very revealing. You do realize there will be no physical collision? It will actually be more of a merger and take place over thousands/millions of years. We'll hardly notice it.
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