Re: Heinlein (1946) on the Singularity

Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 22:41:55 MST

m;orrey expounded:

<<Actually, the error of Heinlein and his contemporaries was assuming that
the extreme change would be in the world of transportation rather than
information. Not that there wasn't a revolution in transportation as
well. Keep in mind that in 1946, air transportation was limited to
government officials and the wealthy, and the quality of transportation
was rough, slow, and uncomfortable. Civil transports flew at 200-300
mph, usually unpressurized and with poor heating and high incidence of
turbulence with small planes. Man still had not penetrated the sound
barrier, the fastest military planes still flew under 600 mph.>>

I love the computer telcom rapid evolution we are experiencing, just love it
as most twits do. But I bet that comparatively rapid advances in
transportation (unit per unit), would have fit the dreams of the future that
many of us had.

<<What Heinlein and his contemporaries failed to forecast was the enormous
economic drain that both the Cold War AND the 'War on Poverty' would
have, how this negatively impacted the level of investment in space
exploration following the Apollo era, and how the loss in Vietnam would
impact the national self-confidence for so long, and he did not, in
1946, forecast the sort of market manipulation the OPEC cartel could use
to cripple the world economy for years.>>

I think I agree with your reasoning, concerninh how political trends
mitigated accelerated progress in spaceflight, and global transport systems.
However, there may be something about how the physics of the world raises the
bar, for technical achiveability (if such a phrase exists) so that progress
is s-l-o-w. In other words many advances are possible, but less so for
technical progress that is affordable, and reliable.

<<I personally expect us to catch up to and exceed Heinlein's predictions
within a few decades. You must keep in mind that his idea of 'massive
change' is certainly not what you or I would consider such. He was born
in 1910, the same year as my grandfather. I'd hardly expect someone of
that era to look at our current day and not see our 'normality' as
representing "The Crazy Years". My 89 year old grandmother certainly
sees these days as such.>>

Well said, but I feel Heinlein's Crazy Years never happened, or not, at
least, on a scientifically inspired basis. Heinlein was also given to making
enchanting, extraordinary statements, without extraordinary evidence to
sustain such statements. But lets face it, his primary target audience was
probably thrilled to discuss things in a serious manner, during America's
"wonder years" of the 40's, 50's, & 60's.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:32 MST