Re: Steering the Extropian Ship [was ... Where do cool people go?]

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 18:55:10 MDT

On Tue, 18 Apr 2000 wrote:

Re: great insights, ala Moravec and perhaps Tipler...
> Very few and very far between is the apparent answer.

True. Progress may be nothing more than good (random) minds noticing
the appropriate (or perhaps false) patterns. I had an interesting
insight today (while commenting on a paper Robert Freitas had
sent me for review) into the rate at which assemblers may work
based on the necessity of avoiding information erasure in in computing
(reversible vs. non-reversible computation). What do nanoassembly
and reversible computing have in common? Not much, other than the
fact that I've read alot about both and there may be some really
interesting underlying principles in common regarding the physics
of "information processing". I doubt I ever would have had this
insight had I not been fortunate enough to be reviewing this
particular paper with the background I've accumulated over the
last couple of years. Odds of their being many such strange
insights that occur when interesting branches of knowledge cross?
Pretty high I'm afraid, so it becomes a question of simply how
many individuals are "cross-trained", and that number would seem
to be pretty small. [It would appear though from current progress in
genomics, requiring both molecular biology and computer science
experience and the recent commentary in Science on the educational
needs of the nanotechnology initiative, that more people are coming
to this conclusion.]

> I would say and will say, that there has to be a critical mass for this
> particular philosophy to takeoff. Moreover, there has to be a qualitative
> impetus for this movement to sustain itself and succeed.

I'm not so sure I'd agree. Gravity and evolution have both worked
fine for billions of years with no intervention required... "Look,
Ma, no hands...". The question in my mind and many others is can
we put our hands on the handle bars to steer more effeciently and
still manage to see far enough ahead to avoid hitting some really deep
potholes (including those that may be dug by the less foresightful).

In that respect, and, in the vein of Brent's post, it is up to
each of us to cleverly determine those who would eventually grab
the handle bars and help them reach that point sooner and not gloat
excessively as we steer around those who fell into the holes.
There, but for the whims of the galactic overlords, go us.


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