Re: Repent, for the End of the World is near (was: Phase transitions and Singularities)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 16:07:30 MDT

On Sun, May 13, 2001 at 06:03:48PM +0200, Francois-Rene Rideau wrote:
> At times, your predictions sound a bit like
> the ones from various millenarist christian sectarians
> who enjoin to "Repent, for the End of the World is near".

Exactly. It is a milleniarist meme I really get irritated at. It blocks
critical thinking because it both attracts us away from the present
concerns with its glorius light and blinds us with it. The credo that we
cannot know anything beyond it is an excuse for lazy thinking, and the
end time thinking it engenders is more of the type "when will it occur?"
than "what are the options?".

> For another thing about phase transition:
> I believe that from the large body of historical data we have,
> we're already in one, but one that,
> albeit it seems instantaneous in geological times,
> is very long in individual human life time,
> and there's no reason to believe we're at the end of it.

Exactly! This is my position too. That doesn't mean the rate of change
or lifespan could not become so great that we get to experience the
inflexion point of the grand sigmoid curve of history (if something like
that happens).

I don't believe in phase transitions to posthumanity started by a tiny
nucleus (other than that ideas and inventions have to come from
somewhere, and this is where the entreprenurs of thought are needed),
they will encompass a large part of our society and economy. I use the
term "a swell" - a broad change across society, possibly taking quite
some time - rather than the elitist "spike" of a transition caused by
some single nucleus.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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