from the terminology-drift dept.
Cryptologist Hal Finney points out on the Extropy mailing list that Foresight's views of molecular nanotechnology are still not generally accepted, despite all the funding of "nanotechnology". Read More for his post. Yet there are a few brave researchers who take self-replication via nanotechnology seriously in public; see the end of this interview with Harvard's Charles Lieber in The Deal: "There really are some fundamental scientific problems where you can end up creating self-replicating things and invading bodies, but I don't worry about that at this point." He's right not to worry that this might happen soon. However, since it is a possibility, some of us are putting time into thinking about it in advance — it's a tough problem to head off, and figuring it out will take some time.
Archive for the 'Memetics' Category
from the terminology-drift dept.
from the getting-used-to-the-future dept.
In a surprisingly early adjustment, the Christian Science publication Sentinel (not online, see Jan 8, 2001 issue) includes two articles that reconcile the coming era of smart robots and human/machine blends with Christian Science beliefs. Both are responding to Ray Kurzweil's book The Age of Spiritual Machines. Instead of fighting the future, these articles thoughtfully integrate technology and religion. Read more for excerpts.
from the Browsing-the-future dept.
pmoss sends a reminder of the expanding resources on the Homo Excelsior website, which he describes as "a central database of science and technology that is peer-reviewed and . . . is generally concerned with the memes related to nanotechnology, megascale engineering, cryopreservation, uploading and other associated sciences and technologies."
from the Poetry-in-action dept.
Senior Associate Paul Melnyk calls our attention to a forward-looking address ("Dream to Make Something Happen") delivered by David O. Swain, Senior VP of Engineering & Technology for The Boeing Company, and also president of Phantom Works, the research and development organization of the company. The talk was delivered last October at the ASM International Materials Solutions Conference.
"Nanoscale science and engineering most likely will produce the strategic technology breakthroughs of tomorrow," Swain said. "Our ability to work at the molecular level, atom by atom, to create something new, something we could manufacture from the 'bottom up,' opens up huge vistas . . . There are huge possibilities." Swain concluded his address with a "call for action." He said: "I believe in what poet Carl Sandburg wrote: 'Nothing happens unless you first dream.' We need to dream again. Dream about new formulas, new metals, new materials. Dream about nanoscience, nanoengineering, nanotechnology. Dream about the possibilities, the opportunities, and then make our dreams come true. Then, and only then, can we unlock exciting frontiers with our discoveries."
ASM is a society for professionals concerned with industry, technology and applications of metals and materials, and has over 40,000 members who are engineers, managers, scientists, researchers, teachers, students, marketers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers. The Institute for Molecular Manufacturing co-sponsored a special session dedicated to molecular nanotechnology at the same conference. Swain's address and the IMM-sponsored session helped provide an overview of molecular nanotechnology to a part of the materials community that has been largely insulated from progress in this area.
from the The-gods-themselves-contend-in-vain dept.
An article on an emerging global anti-technology movement appears on the web site of Reason Magazine ("Rebels Against the Future: Witnessing the birth of the global anti-technology movement," 28 February 2001). Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey reports on the International Forum on Globalization's "Teach-In on Technology and Globalization," held in New York City in late February.
According to Bailey, "If it's new, they hate it. What they fear and loathe most is biotechnology, but now some are beginning to train their sights on nanotechnology as well."
After detailing the presentations of what he describes as "an all-star cast of technophobes and other rebels against the future, featuring proud self-declared luddites," Bailey concludes, "The hopeful future of humanity freed from disease, disability, hunger, ignorance, poverty, and inequity depends on beating back the forces of know-nothing reaction such as those assembled at this weekend's Teach-In. The struggle for the future begins now."
from the quicker-than-"miniaturization" dept.
Christer Eriksson writes "'Nanization' seems quite an appropriate, simple word to discuss the miniaturization of technology we are, and will, be experiencing. Yet, the word never seems to be used in discussions about nanotechnology. I found the word in an eighteen year old British dictionary (Chambers Dictionary 1983) which describes it as 'artificial dwarfing.' I haven't seen it in any recent dictionaries as of yet."
from the kids-get-the-concept-faster dept.
Miguel Aznar of the nonprofit KnowledgeContext requests the nanodot community to comment on this essay on nanotechnology written for 6th graders. The students will read this essay and then write a "presidential address" to help the U.S. public understand and evaluate it. KnowledgeContext provides curriculum to teachers of grades 5 to 12 that prepares young people for rapid technological change.
from the reactionary-media dept.
Martin Archer writes "Here's another myopic treatment of tranhumanists, from the LA Weekly, Jan 19-25, 2001. Say what you will about Natasha Vita More and Max More, but personally, I just don't understand the journalist's viewpoint: '…Perhaps one day we'll all be transhumans, or posthuman cyborgs, but since we're not cyborgs now, it's hard to get too worked up about it…' It's difficult bringing the subject of the impending technological life extension 'tsunami' even to close friends. How do you do it without coming across as a weirdo?" CP: Fortunately, with the web we can judge for ourselves, without intervening media bias: see Extropy.org and Extrodot.
from the you-can-get-there-from-here dept.
PatGratton writes "I've put together a map of transformational technologies and some of their consequences. If I'm missing an important technology or consequence, please let me know." This continues the discussion of the white papers project mentioned earlier.
(Click Read More… for notes on the diagram and the technologies mapped.)
from the chin-strap-for-your-thinking-cap dept.
PatGratton writes "As Chris Phoenix previously described, four Senior Associates got together and began to outline an approach that would take us to the next level of work in resolving the issues raised by transformational technologies.
As one of our first steps, we sat down and tried to list all of the major questions facing us. The result is two sets of questions: one addressing technology, politics and ultimate goals, and the other addressing Foresight Goals. "
(Click Read More… to continue.)
"A mostly sympathetic [to Turning Point] article, but it does include some comments from Foresight Sr. Assoc. Eric Raymond.
They even have a problem with social software:
'Everyone should think different together,' quips the copy, suggesting that huge conglomerates rushing toward globalization are more likely to benefit from 'global computer networks' than individuals."
from the a-singularity-is-coming dept.
Robin Hanson gave an informal talk titled "The Next Really Big Enormous Thing", which argues that there are reasons, based on historical models to expect that the pace of change may increase soon. He seems to be trying to convince economists and social scientists to take our concept of Singularity seriously, and to start doing active research into what the effects might be.
from the motherhood-apple-pie-and-pure-water dept.
Pat Delany writes "A problem ahead for nanotechnology? The possible backlash from two groups, one the growing number of people mistrustful of science and the changes it brings, and the other bureaucratic institutions that might balk at funding a technological revolution with the ability to unseat them from their position of power. A solution? Turn nano development toward an early and obviously beneficial goal: the desalinization and purification of water, allowing us to use our abundance of saltwater and polluted water for agriculture and consumption…We, the folks at nanospot.com, offer this idea for the nanotechnology community to consider, and would like to help jumpstart such an effort…" Read More for the full post.
from the whatever-it-takes…even-if-it's-fun dept.
Senior Associate PatSalsbury writes "Alan Moore, a long-time (and fantastic) writer of comics and graphic novels, and Dan Jurgens recently co-wrote a story ("Tom Strong", #7) set in the year 2050, where nanotech was part of the daily world…I think comics are an excellent way of reaching youth…" So do we. Read More for Pat's full post. To better understand this communication format, Foresight chairman Eric Drexler highly recommends the appropriately-named book Understanding Comics.
from the party-time dept.
rlsnow writes "Project Singularity at Burning Man 2000 has begun rabid self-organization. The first theme camp in the history of known civilization inspired solely by ideas of Singularity starts in Nevada's Black Rock Desert on August 28th." Senior Associate John Smart is co-organizer of this project; a number of other Senior Associates attend Burning Man.
from the now-it's-a-business-tool dept.
Senior Associate Jack Hughes writes: "this is the new e-book by Seth Godin on how to unleash the IdeaVirus. I think you'll find it interesting — he's giving it away for free now, but publishing it for money in hardcover come September." Warning: the download can be tricky.
from the weirdness-comes-in-degrees dept.
How much change can you handle? Find out by seeing where you fit on Senior Associate Eliezer S. Yudkowsky's Shock Level scale showing various levels of coming technologies and potential applications. Which level can you face with "calm acceptance"? You've probably picked your level correctly when lower levels seem boring while higher ones look flaky. This scale, or one very like it, is a key tool of memetic engineering. Read More for caveats.
from the nanomania?-sounds-fun dept.
From BradHein's site we find The New York Times reports: "Once it is possible to create molecular circuits (as opposed to silicon-based chips) on a mass, affordable scale — by about 2010, according to some industry researchers — prepare for nanomania…If this vision turns out to be accurate, then we will find ourselves, before too long, in a previously unfathomable medical and ethical terrain. Our relation to aging, to mortality, to the messages sent us by our own bodies may be forever altered by infinitesimally small computers that diagnose our diseases, repair our ravaged cells and ultimately transform — for better or for worse — what it means to be human." CP: But can we live without mortality?
from the all-we-need-is-love dept.
Strongly recommended by Foresight chairman Eric Drexler is this essay by David H. Miller: "If one wants to understand how a political order, a constitutional structure, or an economic system will actually work, one must understand how effectively it makes use of the limited altruistic impulses available among the members of society. If a society is to avoid widespread misery and suffering, it must make effective use of the existing potential for altruism, and it must not require levels of altruism exceeding that which is available. In short, it must do an adequate job of economizing on love." CP: Those of us able to direct our altruism to longer-term goals have a comparative advantage in doing so. How are you leveraging your limited supply of altruism?