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Old December 31 2012, 09:13 PM   #31
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
^ Not really. There's a concept of technological utopianism, the idea that technology will solve all problems and conquer all barriers. Like all utopnianists, the basic premise is that the world can be made into a paradise just by systematically eliminating all of its varied problems.

Singularity theory is really just the cyperpunk wing of utopianism: the idea that cybernetics and/or AI are the means to eliminate all of those problems. It's no less imaginative than the belief that the discovery of alien life will unify mankind and transform our entire civilization, for example.
I don't think any kind of utopia is particularly imaginative.
Fantasy is often imaginative, even if it can never be real. Scifi writers play with FTL travel and forehead aliens too, and both of those are just as likely as a post-singularity utopia.

In any case, even if we were to consider a Singularity-based civilization a utopia, that came out of the imagination of one person, or perhaps a handful of people. Those individuals get the credit for being imaginative. The thousands of others who blindly parrot it as inevitable, however, do not.
Fair point.
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Old December 31 2012, 09:37 PM   #32
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

The thing about the Singularity is, I don't even particularly not believe something like that could happen. I just think that -

A) It will take place much further in the future than is worth worrying about.
B) It will cause just as many problems as it solves.
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Old January 1 2013, 12:22 AM   #33
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
^ Not really. There's a concept of technological utopianism, the idea that technology will solve all problems and conquer all barriers. Like all utopnianists, the basic premise is that the world can be made into a paradise just by systematically eliminating all of its varied problems.

Singularity theory is really just the cyperpunk wing of utopianism: the idea that cybernetics and/or AI are the means to eliminate all of those problems. It's no less imaginative than the belief that the discovery of alien life will unify mankind and transform our entire civilization, for example.
I don't think any kind of utopia is particularly imaginative.
Fantasy is often imaginative, even if it can never be real.
Not necessarily.

This Singularity nonsense and "Ancient Aliens" both fail imaginatively in a similar way. The believers in ancient astronauts understand so little about history and archaeology that they cannot imagine how "primitive" people could be as inventive and creative as they were. The Singularity evangelists see the world constantly and rapidly changing and they can't imagine this as an ongoing process over long periods of time into the future with no fixed end result, so they do what those filled with anxiety and doubt about the future have always done: they resort to apocalyptic thinking.

Kurzweil doesn't want to die. Guess what - very few people do. Denial takes many forms.
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Old January 7 2013, 07:54 PM   #34
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

sojourner wrote: View Post
The thing about the Singularity is, I don't even particularly not believe something like that could happen. I just think that -

A) It will take place much further in the future than is worth worrying about.
B) It will cause just as many problems as it solves.
I think this is the key to the change in paradigm...EVERYONE thinks things will advance slowly but surely over time OR disaster and we'll destroy ourselves. This misses the actual facts we can learn from history and the present...what we normally perceive in our limited way is not what is actually happening...this is where the implications for a more rapid accelerated change come into play.

Even if a Singularity creates a society that is post scarcity and and extremely advanced, I'd always hesitate to use the word "utopia". Would it be more positive than most people think, yes my opinion is it would be. If you ask for perfection, even if you could define it I'd have to say no.

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Old January 7 2013, 08:03 PM   #35
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post

I don't think any kind of utopia is particularly imaginative.
Fantasy is often imaginative, even if it can never be real.
Not necessarily.

This Singularity nonsense and "Ancient Aliens" both fail imaginatively in a similar way. The believers in ancient astronauts understand so little about history and archaeology that they cannot imagine how "primitive" people could be as inventive and creative as they were. The Singularity evangelists see the world constantly and rapidly changing and they can't imagine this as an ongoing process over long periods of time into the future with no fixed end result, so they do what those filled with anxiety and doubt about the future have always done: they resort to apocalyptic thinking.

Kurzweil doesn't want to die. Guess what - very few people do. Denial takes many forms.
As usual I think you preconceptions are way off, or generally inaccurate.

"Singularity" type predictions pre-date Kurzweil. Kurzweil popularized it because of his resume' and convincing work, as well as accurate predictions. A Singularity event does not need human-like behavior from an AI but human level AI although that is likely to happen also. A Singularity event does not need Kurzweil to tell us it will take place in his lifetime. We have math for that. Marovec already predicted an AI "event" well before Kurzweil's recent popularity.

Ancient astronauts: Not an iota of proof. Singularity: based on science and mathematical models. Still a possibility (or probability) but a good one with many extent technologies in development. They are not even remotely related.

For the 1000th time, a Singularity does not have to be a dystopia or apocalypse.

RAMA
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Old January 7 2013, 08:47 PM   #36
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

RAMA wrote: View Post
sojourner wrote: View Post
The thing about the Singularity is, I don't even particularly not believe something like that could happen. I just think that -

A) It will take place much further in the future than is worth worrying about.
B) It will cause just as many problems as it solves.
I think this is the key to the change in paradigm...EVERYONE thinks things will advance slowly but surely over time OR disaster and we'll destroy ourselves.
First of all, people think this because even a cursory look at history shows this is exactly what has always happened throughout history. The advent of the bronze age saw an explosion in metallurgical technology and military, social, political and architectural innovations made possible by new tools, weapons, techniques and infrastructure. Yet after an initial burst of innovation lasting some 300 years, further progress slowed to a crawl and new innovations became either subtle variations on what had been done before, or novel uses of old technology in slightly new ways, hundreds of years after the fact. The same thing happened in Iron Age, and again in the age of sail. Arguably it is also true of the mini-paradigm surrounding the invention of gunpowder and firearms, but these too are subject to larger patterns like the Industrial Era, of which the computer revolution is just one small part.

Second of all, you keep using the word "paradigm" or "paradigm shift" incorrectly. It isn't a magic word for "Change I'd like to see," but describes an existing set of patterns and conventions that most people adhere to. The CURRENT paradigm is industrialization and computerization. Were that paradigm to shift, all the industrial and scientific effort that goes into industrial uses for computers and software would be directed in an entirely different direction.

Even if a Singularity creates a society that is post scarcity and and extremely advanced, I'd always hesitate to use the word "utopia".
Good, because the singularity -- if it happens at all -- is unlikely to create anything of the kind.
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Old January 7 2013, 08:56 PM   #37
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

RAMA wrote: View Post
Kurzweil popularized it because of his resume' and convincing work, as well as accurate predictions.
Kurzweil's predictions were many things, but accurate is not one of them.

Marovec already predicted an AI "event" well before Kurzweil's recent popularity.
And Marovec, IIRC, predicted it would occur some time in the mid 1990s; he was ALSO wrong, because like Kurzweil, he utterly failed to take into account the fact that technology is developed by PEOPLE, and that its development can be constrained, slowed, or halted altogether by the same kinds of liabilities facing the people who develop them.

For the 1000th time, a Singularity does not have to be a dystopia or apocalypse.
Strictly speaking, a dystopia and an apocalypse are two different things. Christians believe that the apocalypse will bring about the millennial reign of Christ and heaven on Earth for all mankind. Singularitans believe something similar about the reign of AI.
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Old January 9 2013, 05:16 AM   #38
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
Kurzweil popularized it because of his resume' and convincing work, as well as accurate predictions.
Kurzweil's predictions were many things, but accurate is not one of them.

Marovec already predicted an AI "event" well before Kurzweil's recent popularity.
And Marovec, IIRC, predicted it would occur some time in the mid 1990s; he was ALSO wrong, because like Kurzweil, he utterly failed to take into account the fact that technology is developed by PEOPLE, and that its development can be constrained, slowed, or halted altogether by the same kinds of liabilities facing the people who develop them.

For the 1000th time, a Singularity does not have to be a dystopia or apocalypse.
Strictly speaking, a dystopia and an apocalypse are two different things. Christians believe that the apocalypse will bring about the millennial reign of Christ and heaven on Earth for all mankind. Singularitans believe something similar about the reign of AI.

Almost everything you wrote is innacurate actually. I can certainly cite proof, but I think you could find the facts yourself at this point.

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Old January 9 2013, 06:08 AM   #39
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

RAMA wrote: View Post
Almost everything you wrote is innacurate actually. I can certainly cite proof
No, you certainly cannot.

I wasn't going to do this, but let's get straight to the point:

From "The Age of Intelligent Machines"
Early 2000s

  • Translating telephones allow people to speak to each other in different languages. - FAIL: Technology undeveloped
  • Machines designed to transcribe speech into computer text allow deaf people to understand spoken words. - PARTIAL FAIL: Market never materialized
  • Exoskeletal, robotic leg prostheses allow the paraplegic to walk. - FAIL: Still experimental in 2012
  • Telephone calls are routinely screened by intelligent answering machines that ask questions to determine the call's nature and priority. - FAIL: Technology developed in 2010s and is only used by call centers.
  • "Cybernetic chauffeurs" can drive cars for humans and can be retrofitted into existing cars. They work by communicating with other vehicles and with sensors embedded along the roads. - EPIC FAIL
  • The classroom is dominated by computers. Intelligent courseware that can tailor itself to each student by recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. Media technology allows students to manipulate and interact with virtual depictions of the systems and personalities they are studying. - FAIL
  • A small number of highly skilled people dominates the entire production sector. Tailoring of products for individuals is common. - FAIL
  • Drugs are designed and tested in simulations that mimic the human body. - FAIL
  • Blind people navigate and read text using machines that can visually recognize features of their environment. - FAIL
  • PCs are capable of answering queries by accessing information wirelessly via the Internet. - PARTIAL WIN, see SIRI.
2020–2050

  • Phone calls entail three-dimensional holographic images of both people. - IMMANENT FAIL: Video chat isn't even that popular.
  • By 2020, there will be a new World government. - IMMANENT EPIC FAIL

To be fair, that was Kurzweil in 1990, projecting on trends that seemed obvious in the late 1980s. Surely he learned and wisened a bit with his old age, so he should be more accurate with his 1999 predictions... right?

In "The Age of Spiritual Machines", Kurzweil predicts that by 2009:


  • Most books will be read on screens rather than paper. - FAIL: Not even half
  • Most text will be created using speech recognition technology. - FAIL
  • Intelligent roads and driverless cars will be in use, mostly on highways. - EPIC FAIL
  • People use personal computers the size of rings, pins, credit cards and books. - PARTIAL FAIL: some tablets are the size of books
  • Personal worn computers provide monitoring of body functions, automated identity and directions for navigation. - PARTIAL FAIL: Smartphones do this, but are not "wearable computers"
  • Cables are disappearing. Computer peripheries use wireless communication. - PARTIAL FAIL: Wireless devices exist alongside wired ones.
  • People can talk to their computer to give commands. - PARTIAL FAIL: People CAN, but nobody wants to
  • Computer displays built into eyeglasses for augmented reality are used. - FAIL
  • Computers can recognize their owner's face from a picture or video. - FAIL
  • Three-dimensional chips are commonly used. - FAIL
  • Sound producing speakers are being replaced with very small chip-based devices that can place high resolution sound anywhere in three-dimensional space. - FAIL
  • A 1000 dollar pc can perform about a trillion calculations per second. - FAIL: most high-end PCs currently peak at around 20 billion
  • There is increasing interest in massively parallel neural nets, genetic algorithms and other forms of "chaotic" or complexity theory computing. - UNSURPRISING FAIL
  • Research has been initiated on reverse engineering the brain through both destructive and non-invasive scans. - FAIL
  • Autonomous nanoengineered machines have been demonstrated and include their own computational controls.- FAIL
Most of Kurzweil's last round of predictions haven't lapsed yet, but already his perennial predictions of "wearable computers" has still failed to materialize, mainly because imbedding computers in your clothing is the kind of idea that sounds really cool until you try to sell it to someone and realize what a stupid idea it really is.

In fact, MOST of Kurzweil's predictions have this feature: the SOUND cool, until someone tries to SELL those ideas and is jarred by the reality that they are either totally impractical or technologically infeasible.

Ray Kurzweil is at best average in making near-term projections about technology that he is intimately familiar with (e.g. speech recognition and computerized language support) but has been wrong on literally every other subject he has offered a prediction for. His predictions are therefore about as reliable as the premise for "2001: a Space Odyssey."
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Old November 18 2013, 03:17 AM   #40
RAMA
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

n
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
Almost everything you wrote is innacurate actually. I can certainly cite proof
No, you certainly cannot.

I wasn't going to do this, but let's get straight to the point:

From "The Age of Intelligent Machines"
Early 2000s

  • Translating telephones allow people to speak to each other in different languages. - FAIL: Technology undeveloped
  • Machines designed to transcribe speech into computer text allow deaf people to understand spoken words. - PARTIAL FAIL: Market never materialized
  • Exoskeletal, robotic leg prostheses allow the paraplegic to walk. - FAIL: Still experimental in 2012
  • Telephone calls are routinely screened by intelligent answering machines that ask questions to determine the call's nature and priority. - FAIL: Technology developed in 2010s and is only used by call centers.
  • "Cybernetic chauffeurs" can drive cars for humans and can be retrofitted into existing cars. They work by communicating with other vehicles and with sensors embedded along the roads. - EPIC FAIL
  • The classroom is dominated by computers. Intelligent courseware that can tailor itself to each student by recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. Media technology allows students to manipulate and interact with virtual depictions of the systems and personalities they are studying. - FAIL
  • A small number of highly skilled people dominates the entire production sector. Tailoring of products for individuals is common. - FAIL
  • Drugs are designed and tested in simulations that mimic the human body. - FAIL
  • Blind people navigate and read text using machines that can visually recognize features of their environment. - FAIL
  • PCs are capable of answering queries by accessing information wirelessly via the Internet. - PARTIAL WIN, see SIRI.
2020–2050

  • Phone calls entail three-dimensional holographic images of both people. - IMMANENT FAIL: Video chat isn't even that popular.
  • By 2020, there will be a new World government. - IMMANENT EPIC FAIL

To be fair, that was Kurzweil in 1990, projecting on trends that seemed obvious in the late 1980s. Surely he learned and wisened a bit with his old age, so he should be more accurate with his 1999 predictions... right?

In "The Age of Spiritual Machines", Kurzweil predicts that by 2009:


  • Most books will be read on screens rather than paper. - FAIL: Not even half
  • Most text will be created using speech recognition technology. - FAIL
  • Intelligent roads and driverless cars will be in use, mostly on highways. - EPIC FAIL
  • People use personal computers the size of rings, pins, credit cards and books. - PARTIAL FAIL: some tablets are the size of books
  • Personal worn computers provide monitoring of body functions, automated identity and directions for navigation. - PARTIAL FAIL: Smartphones do this, but are not "wearable computers"
  • Cables are disappearing. Computer peripheries use wireless communication. - PARTIAL FAIL: Wireless devices exist alongside wired ones.
  • People can talk to their computer to give commands. - PARTIAL FAIL: People CAN, but nobody wants to
  • Computer displays built into eyeglasses for augmented reality are used. - FAIL
  • Computers can recognize their owner's face from a picture or video. - FAIL
  • Three-dimensional chips are commonly used. - FAIL
  • Sound producing speakers are being replaced with very small chip-based devices that can place high resolution sound anywhere in three-dimensional space. - FAIL
  • A 1000 dollar pc can perform about a trillion calculations per second. - FAIL: most high-end PCs currently peak at around 20 billion
  • There is increasing interest in massively parallel neural nets, genetic algorithms and other forms of "chaotic" or complexity theory computing. - UNSURPRISING FAIL
  • Research has been initiated on reverse engineering the brain through both destructive and non-invasive scans. - FAIL
  • Autonomous nanoengineered machines have been demonstrated and include their own computational controls.- FAIL
Most of Kurzweil's last round of predictions haven't lapsed yet, but already his perennial predictions of "wearable computers" has still failed to materialize, mainly because imbedding computers in your clothing is the kind of idea that sounds really cool until you try to sell it to someone and realize what a stupid idea it really is.

In fact, MOST of Kurzweil's predictions have this feature: the SOUND cool, until someone tries to SELL those ideas and is jarred by the reality that they are either totally impractical or technologically infeasible.

Ray Kurzweil is at best average in making near-term projections about technology that he is intimately familiar with (e.g. speech recognition and computerized language support) but has been wrong on literally every other subject he has offered a prediction for. His predictions are therefore about as reliable as the premise for "2001: a Space Odyssey."
I missed this somehow, BUT again you're wrong: Your counterpoint post has already been done and countered(quite successfully in my opinion):

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknap...9-predictions/

..and more famously, to Paul Allen's crticism:

http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2011/1...-kurzweil.html

Kurzweil defends that 86% of is predictions are either correct, or "essentially" correct, and most reviews of his claims I have seen concur with this.

A FULL summary of his predictions can be found here:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-my-pre...y-ray-kurzweil.

RAMA
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Old November 18 2013, 09:40 AM   #41
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Sorry, but having a smartphone in your pocket is absolutely nowhere near being a cyborg.
Exactly. Humans—in general—have a limit to how quickly they'll adapt to new things. Sometimes resisting too much change is a survival mechanism. Call that your "singularity" if you want.

The spectrum of human responses is also an overall advantage. Sometimes those who resist get "left behind," while others who gleefully jump on every "1.0" without hesitation crash headfirst into a brick wall.

As for our ability to "predict" the future more accurately than ever—that whole notion is a paradox. Machines analyzing vast amounts of data are not predicting anything, except the statistical likelihood that what has happened before will happen again. Thus, I would imagine the fastest way to bring in the "future" would be to geographically separate chunks of humanity—say by colonizing other worlds. That's where your cyborgs and other radical "mutations" will be most beneficial.

(Think mutation vs drift in genetics.)
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Old November 18 2013, 01:21 PM   #42
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Not much has beaten bringing clean water and sanitation to the masses. The Internet and computers have not come close to the benefit that has been to humanity, nor has anything changed the human condition as much except agriculture. Singularity? Poppycock.
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Old November 18 2013, 03:13 PM   #43
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Come on, it is hard to take someone seriously who does shit like this:

An example of a prediction that was cited as “false” when it is, in fact, true is, “Personal computers are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and are commonly embedded in clothing and jewelry.” When I wrote this prediction in the 1990s, portable computers were large heavy devices carried under your arm.

Today, they are indeed embedded in shirt pockets, jacket pockets, and hung from belt loops. Colorful iPod nano models are worn on blouses as jewelry pins or on a sleeve while running, health monitors are woven into undergarments, computers are built into hearing aids, and there are many other examples. The prediction does not say that all computers would be small devices integrated in these ways, just that this would be “common,” which is indeed the case. And “personal computers” should not be restricted to the marketing category we happen to call “personal computers” today.
"When I said 'personal computer,' I didn't actually mean 'personal computer,' and when I said 'embedded,' I didn't mean actually 'embedded,' just that you'd carry it around with you." The "embedded" part is more objectionable than the rest, although we can't credit Kurzweil with much prescience on this one: he wrote The Age of Spiritual Machines in 1999 and PDAs had been around for a few years before that. He predicted the trend of such devices would continue, bringing us further miniaturization and functionality, and it has. He's good at near-term extrapolation of current trends. That has no relation to his ability to predict long-term consequences.

Paul Allen's criticisms are spot on. Kurzweil pretty much just handwaved them away. If that is the extent of his ability to "counter" the points of critics, I don't think we've got much to worry about here.

The Singularity sounds fascinating, and it would be amazing if we were close to that level of technology, but we're not, and we won't be for a long time (probably not this century.) Bigger threats to human endeavors are rearing their ugly heads and we'll have to contend with them. Essentially, we will have to figure out how to be good humans as we are before we start worrying about how to be transhumans, or the same problems that plague us today will hound us far into the future, Singularity or no Singularity. It just seems to be used as a handwave solution for all our problems. "Energy crisis? Global warming? World hunger? Don't worry! Singularity!" This is why it is criticized for having religious overtones and being lambasted as the "geek Rapture." That's exactly what it is.
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Old November 18 2013, 05:37 PM   #44
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post

No one's fighting anything, you're just upset that people aren't lapping up the Kurzweil Kool-Aid.

I'm a huge fan of technology and what it can and will do for us in the future. I just don't presume to think that any one person knows what the future will look like. That is what I consider "boxed-in": the belief that the future will look any certain way that we can predict right now. The fact is, we are notoriously bad at predicting the future, because technology isn't driven by any one factor. It's not driven just by what a bunch of eggheads imagine, nor what a megacorp's bean counters think will sell. It's a confluence of many factors that are difficult to track, measure, and predict.

I prefer to keep my options open.
I'm not upset at all. I'm trying to tell you the paradigm has changed, while no one is a prophet, we have systems available to predict the future with greater accuracy than ever before. Therefore we have the ability to affect more than ever...it's reinforcing...see how that works?

What I meant by fighting tooth and nail is the fact that humans are short-sighted...we pine for the past, eras which were supposed golden ages, when the very best we ever were is right now...even with all our imperfections. People want to bury their heads in the sand, they want to ignore technological change(how often have you heard people who use smartphone say they hate technology, or even see people choosing old phones over new ones)..it appears natural human instinct to do so as the information age expands, nostalgia flourishes(in the USA slightly less than in most countries, which to me is the only REAL world reason America is a superpower and so cool to be in)....here is where it gets good...we don't have to be that way...trans-humanism can mean expanding our human "RAM" and storage, as smartphoes, laptops, google etc are already doing to a degree. Sharing ideas, knowledge in real-time from our minds to a network can change human perception, change our provincialism as a species, mitigate tribal or political bias. It can change our perception of time to something more akin with reality. If you consider this boxed in, I feel sorry for you.
Sorry, but having a smartphone in your pocket is absolutely nowhere near being a cyborg. That's the kind of talk that makes you lose people, when you jump from current technology straight to fantasy. You also fail to acknowledge that just because something is possible, it doesn't mean everyone's going to want to do it.

Do you really think most people will be okay with cybernetically modifying their bodies, having all sorts of implants, enhancements, etc.? What about the legal ramifications? What impact will this have on education, sports, and human health in general? Instead, the talk is all about how cool it would be if we could do all this, and that we'll soon have the ability. Maybe we will, maybe we won't, but it's foolish to believe that once it is possible and practical, everyone will do it "just because."
Yes, having a smartphone is far from having your 'ram' or 'storage' expanded via cybernetics. We are nowhere near the latter. But, when we achieve the latter, all the legalisms and other consequences you mentioned will delay nothing. Why?:
Because having one's ram expanded - let's say, from being able to hold 7 random notions at the same time in your brain to being able to hold 70 - or one's storage expanded - to the sum of human knowledge, in precise detail - will give one enormous mental advantages over base-line humans.
So large, that base-line humans will become, de facto, 2nd class citizens; quite similar to pets, if they're lucky. You can have the freedom to choose to remain unmodified; but this is the price you pay for it - becoming utterly irrelevant; living because your betters allow it.

You think legalisms will prevent much of humanity from doing whatever is necessary for becoming part of the first class humanity? One that, now, has an objective, overwhelming advantage?
You think debate and soul searching over consequences in education, sports, etc will delay anything?
I beg to differ.
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Old November 18 2013, 05:58 PM   #45
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
You think debate and soul searching over consequences in education, sports, etc will delay anything?
I beg to differ.
Given that this is apparently your thesis, let me just say that you are wrong. Humans are not ruthless optimizers who jump onto the latest technologies to reap their obvious benefits. History shows that we are far, far more predisposed to regress than progress.
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