Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by RAMA, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.)
     
  2. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  3. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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

    "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.
     
  4. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  5. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    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.
     
  6. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    History shows that two standard deviations on one's IQ (30 points) make the difference between a successful life in the top stratums of society and a life as an unqualified worker - assuming a moderate amount of effort, that, more often than not, is present.
    And the overwhelming majority of human beings want to have these 30 IQ points and the life they can bring.

    Of course, 30 IQ points are small potatoes by comparison to the mental enhancements we're discussing here.

    By all means, though, do support your thesis with something beyond vague 'you're wrong' and ~'history shows people do not quickly adopt revolutionary advances that make their lives far better/wealthier/etc (when, in fact, they do)'.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  7. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    "In exchange for these extra 30 IQ points, you must place highly sophisticated technological devices inside your body." I guarantee you that's a dealbreaker for a great many people. You can call it irrational or whatever you want, but it exists. There would be religious objections, cultural taboos, etc. in the way. That's what I meant about people not being ruthless optimizers. No, everyone doesn't do what you might consider objectively best for them. You can call them right or wrong for it, but it's silly to assume people will get on board just because it makes their lives so much better. Did you know there are lots of people who don't even have smartphones and don't use the Internet for anything more than Facebook? Shocking, but it's true--despite all the advantages modern technology has to offer them.

    How much will this technology cost? How obvious will it be that someone has been thus enhanced? You're still assuming that ethical objections will be alleviated, not by regulating the technology, but by turning all the "have nots" into "haves." Socialized cybernetics? And I thought the Singularity was outlandish.
     
  8. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "religious objections, cultural taboos"
    These don't prevent the vast majority of religious or culturally conservative people to use best technology, useful for the field they work in, etc. As history has shown.
    They don't use the latest technological fads, etc. And? If these latest fads would improve their life and career greatly they would use them just fine.

    Of course, they do so while constantly whining about the past, better times, about ethics and whatnot. But all this whining hardly ever stops any of them from using the relevant technology.

    "How much will this technology cost? How obvious will it be that someone has been thus enhanced?"
    There were past technological innovations that were not implemented on a large scale because, essentially, they costed more than they offered, yes.
    But with a substantial increase in mental prowess, ANY cost one can afford will be cheap - because what one gets will FAR outweigh any such price. How much would you pay for an accomplished, good life?

    And - you think hidden or aesthetically pleasing enhancements are not possible? These are among the simplest problems to solve in developing such technology.

    "ethical objections"
    Ethics? Law, maybe? The vast majority of individuals will worry about legalisms and ethics after they made sure they still have in front of them a future that is NOT one of them being irrelevant, idiot pets. But one of them being successful and accomplished. These will be the only choices available.

    Attempted regulation? This directly translates into a black market boom.
     
  9. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    All this stems from essentially unfounded assumptions that efforts to enhance human intelligence through technological means will work, will work well, and not come with major risks or adverse reactions.

    Let one or two people with brain implants flip their shit and kill a bunch of people, and watch how fast those modifications get outlawed.

    There is no inexorable march of technological progress. It has to deal with the realities of human behavior, with all the aversions and irrationalities and cultural complications that go with it, as well as little things like product liability laws.

    It's also senseless to conflate owning and using technological devices with actually messing with your brain, which is on a whole different level.
     
  10. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As I previously said - we're a long way from augmenting our 'ram' or 'hard drive'.
    As I also said - and proven: when this technology comes to pass, educational, health and other considerations will be irrelevant to the vast majority of individuals - for whom the choice will be obvious, between a good life and degrading irrelevancy. And the few whom these considerations will stop from enhancing their mind will soon become idiot, irrelevant pets - if they are lucky to have benevolent betters, that is.
    BTW - as already said, outlawing the technology will only lead to a black market boom.

    Now - the technology we're discussing may be 50 or 500 years away, but it's theoretically possible. This is not FTL, forbidden by the laws of physics as we know them.
    One can make only a VERY WEAK argument for the contrary, along the lines of ~'we don't yet understand how the brain works, so such enhancements may not be possible because - insert detail-free black boxes with pretty names such as complexity theory or emergent properties'.
     
  11. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    But you are then arguing for something that's so far into the future it could be essentially anything. What will humanity look like in 50 or 500 years? I have no idea, and humans are pretty terrible at predicting that far out.

    My criticisms were on the assumption those advances would come soon, like within the next couple decades. It's impossible to say how people would react if those advances became available in 50 years or more. Assuming humanity survives long enough, then yes, it is all but inevitable that almost everyone will become technologically modified, but you're still talking about a long and arduous process that's only just beginning.

    In that sense, it's a bit like Singularity prediction. It may or may not happen, and there's no way to predict when, or even what it will look like if and when it does.
     
  12. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This calls for making explicit premises implicit in my posts:
    That humanity will still exist.
    That human nature will still vaguely resemble that of humans today, in that humans will still want an accomplished life for themselves and will dislike being on the lowest level of society - as will almost certainly be the case, seeing how we're discussing the first round of mental enhancement of humanity and how these traits are part of our genetically coded darwinian heritage.

    Any other implicit premises you want to make explicit?
     
  13. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    I get that you consider it implicit, I just don't think we can take that for granted.

    What you describe are not universal human values, nor even "human nature," but demonstrate spectacular tunnel vision. The Western obsession with endless growth and inexhaustible pursuit of bigger and better is, based on current trends, doomed to fizzle out.

    Even the kind of techno-fetishism you display here is a recent phenomenon, and there is no good reason to believe it will continue unabated just because it has so far. It's like believing the world will never run out of oil, because we haven't run out yet.

    Once again, I am skeptical of any premise that assumes all problems that present themselves to us will be solved before they put a major brake on human technological advancement. We are currently in a rather unique phase of our development, thanks to the microcomputer revolution and everything that came with it, but it's foolhardy to believe it will simply continue forever.

    Bad assumptions lead to bad predictions.
     
  14. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "The Western obsession with endless growth and inexhaustible pursuit of bigger and better is, based on current trends, doomed to fizzle out."

    That would be 'obsession' with having a better life for yourself and your children. Of not being at the bottom of the food chain.
    And it's western, eastern and every other human civilisation's known in any detail.

    "Bad assumptions lead to bad predictions."

    You have yet to identify such 'bad assumptions'.
     
  15. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    Define "better."

    I've pointed out several and you have quite a few more. You seem blinded by your tunnel vision in this area and refuse to look broadly at the complexities and diversity of human endeavors. "We'll all become cybernetically-enhanced geniuses" is a reductive fantasy.
     
  16. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Really?
    You don't know what 'better' refers to in this context?
    Ookie-dooike.

    No you haven't.
    You lately merely engaged in some dictums, some of which are vaguely condescending sounding, some of which also happen to be straw-men.

    By all means, though: do repeat your naming of these assumptions - complete with actual arguments for why they are 'bad', of course.
     
  17. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    So, every person wants the same things out of life? Really? You say "better" as if everyone has the same goals, or that higher intelligence is all that is required to achieve a person's goals. Since this was all about people technologically enhancing themselves in order to have "better" lives, I thought you would be able to describe exactly how their lives would be "better," but it seems you are unwilling to do that.

    You keep piling on the assumptions. You won't even explain what you mean by having a "better" life, as if there is one and only one standard (and presumably you define it.)
     
  18. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So - now your stated assumptions transformed into only what 'a better life' means, I see.
    And yet more unsupported - indeed, blatantly false dictums such as 'you keep piling on the assumptions' (seriously, have you even read what you quoted from my post there?).


    As for 'better life' - ever heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs?
    Tell me, when you have a choice between a bigger wage or a lower wage, which do you choose?
    When you have a choice between a job you actually enjoy and a job you don't, which do you choose?
    When you have a choice between being respected or ridiculed/ignored, which do you chose?

    No - scratch that. What a 'better' life means in the given context is blatantly obvious to any human being who knows a little about life. Unless you actually are an alien or lived in a cave on Mars until today, while being lobotomised, you know it, too.
    Indeed, your hair-splitting only has the purpose of making me write pages of text, while you keep demanding more detailed explanations - simply because it's the only argument (so-called) you have left. And I will not engage.
    Especially seeing how any reader of this thread - provided he's a human being etc - actually does understand what a 'better' life is given the context and just how much of an empty polemical trick your hair-splitting is.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Wouldn't that depend on the local cost of living (if the wages are for jobs that are in different areas)?

    Is this "need" more or less important than the wage?

    Wouldn't that depend on whether you're "right" or not? I'd rather be ridiculed for being right than respected for being wrong. YMMV.
     
  20. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Really, Pavonis?
    Are you actually telling me you couldn't figure out that those questions contained the obvious premise of "'All else being equal', when you have a choice between a bigger wage or a lower wage, which do you choose?", etc?

    I see you follow Robert's example, of pretending these premises are not implicit in the posts, just so you have something to nitpick.

    PS - On the off chance you actually couldn't see such premises - I, frankly, have no interest in discussing with people who are not even able to do that. This is because, in such circumstances, in order to be understood, each of my posts must have the length of a large sized article (and they are most likely not read). And I have neither the time, nor the patience to converse in this manner.