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Slow progress of fast McSingularity? Or what?

Giulio Prisco

Turing Church

December 15, 2012

“We will not become immortal cyborgs with superintelligent computer friends in the next twenty years,” writes Annalee Newitz on io9.  “There is strong evidence that humans first began exploring the oceans by boat about 50 thousand years ago… What if our space probes and the Curiosity rover are the equivalent of those reed boats thousands of years ago? It’s worth pondering. We may be at the start of a long, slow journey whose climactic moment comes thousands of years from now.” My short answer: So what?


Complete entry


Posted by SHaGGGz  on  12/15  at  12:01 PM

The io9 article is among the worst I’ve encountered on the site - all assertion and conclusion, very little substantive argument. The one vague and valid point of government bureaucracy slowing down medical technology advancement only presents a significant obstacle to a Kurzweilian timeline in the event of a successful global impediment in all jurisdictions, which I find unlikely. I find your rough timeframe of mid-to-late century to be plausible, in which case those in your age cohort would likely require a cryogenic stopgap. Nevertheless, it’s still “you” who lives to be 200.

Posted by Giulio Prisco  on  12/17  at  10:47 AM

I don’t find the article bad, and I don’t disagree with Annalee’s cautious timeline. On the contrary I think she is probably right in warning that the development of “transhumanist” technologies is not likely to happen as fast as we wish. As you say, my generation will not make it without a cryogenic stopgap, and probably nobody who is reading this in 2012 will make it without a cryogenic stopgap.

What annoys me is that articles like this, quite reasonable when they are not quoted out of context, give ammunition to the “bigot luddites who condemn imagination in name of the dullest PC (PoliPathetically Correct) nanny-statism typical of the modern pseudo-left.” [this passage has not been included in this version of the article, but it is in the original.]

Posted by Giulio Prisco  on  12/17  at  10:50 AM

OOPS yes, the passage quoted in my last comment is included in this version of the article.

Posted by rms  on  12/23  at  09:40 AM

Ebooks are an advance in convenience in some ways, but commercial
ebooks today are a big blow to the rights of readers.  Paper books
give readers the freedom to acquire a book anonymously, paying cash;
the freedom to read which parts you wish, when you wish, with no one
else knowing; the freedom to give, lend or sell the book to others;
the freedom to keep the book as long as you wish and not have it
remotely deleted.  Typical commercial ebooks deny readers most or all
of these freedoms.

See, and please join me in rejecting all ebooks
that give us less freedom than every printed book.

Posted by Giulio Prisco  on  12/24  at  11:43 AM

@Richard, I agree. I stay away from DRMed ebooks as much as I can (unless, you know, I really need to read one right now), and I always support authors who make DRM-free versions of their e-books available, for example Charlie Stross’ Rapture of the Nerds, by buying a commercial copy as well.

At the same time, I think ebooks are a _very_ big advance in convenience (not to mention those dead trees) and should be actively promoted. And, as you know, there are workarounds to DRM.

Everyone has a pet revolution, I fully support yours, and I place it very high in my priority list, but not as number one. For example, while I totally agree with you on the advantages and importance of free software, I also think Bill Gates deserves a prominent place in history for putting a PC on every desk.

Posted by rms  on  12/25  at  09:56 AM

Giulio Prisco wrote: @Richard, I agree. I stay away from DRMed ebooks as much as I can (unless, you know, I really need to read one right now),

You are pushing back against DRM, but only weakly.  Meanwhile, most ebooks carry two injustices: EULAs, and the requirement to identify oneself.

As you say, there are programs to break DRM—censored by an unjust law, in the US—but there is no technical fix for EULAs or for the requirement to identify oneself.

This battle is a lot easier than many others.  We can win, completely and permanently, just by being stubborn.  Then we can have all the convenience you appreciate, and freedom too.  Please help win this battle before enjoying the convenience.

Posted by rms  on  12/25  at  10:04 AM

Guilo Prisco wrote: I also think Bill Gates deserves a prominent place in history for putting a PC
on every desk.

It’s not a good thing to have a PC on your desk if it is an instrument to give someone else power over you.  Gates has imposed his power on hundreds of millions of people, and that entitles him to a place in history—a place of shame.

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