Re: Is change slowing down?

Paul Hughes (
Sat, 26 Sep 1998 17:08:13 -0700

John Clark wrote:

> I don't agree with Robin, I think the singularity will happen, however

> if I was arguing Robin's case I know what I'd say, change is slowing
> down. Even in technologically advanced parts of the world the change
> daily life between 1899 and 1949 was greater than between 1949 and
> 1999.

I agree with almost all of your points. There is no single invention or

scientific discovery since 1949 that has been as transformative as any of the
other ones you mentioned prior to 1949. I would like to add to your list the
very disappointing progress made towards wide-spread space exploration, development and migration. When I was a kid in the 1970's I fully expected
that I would at least be helping to build an O'Neil colony at L4 or L5 by now.
Every single popular book on the subject, such as by Gerald K. O'Neil, T.A.
Heppenhienmer and G. Harry Stine had ignited my enthusiasm and expectations
that shaped my entire young adult life - including my initial decision to study
engineering and physics in college. Needless to say I am neither - a decision
that was hastened by the 1986 Challenger explosion.

thoughts, ideas and images from around the world that constantly challenge our
world view and personal outlook. Air travel has made the world a much smaller
space, with millions of people moving around constantly. A visit to California, particularly LA or the Bay Area will push this point home. It is
so cosmopolitan now that a comparison to life of those areas even 20 years ago
is like talking about a completely different planet.

The internet has accelerated the pace of memetic evolution off the scale.
Unfortunately this memetic evolution has not yet brought us fundamental advancements in basic science or technology.

To clarify yours and my position in computational language -- there has been
very little change in agents (fundamentals), but massive unpredictable change
in the interactions *between* those agents. It's not the TV so much as the
fact that there 100's of millions around the world. Its not the computer so
much as it is the 100's of millions of them linking up through the internet.
That is what's making the difference, especially on a local and personal level
and I strongly suspect on the global-political arena as well. I still think
nation states will wither away as more cybernetically organized co-operatives,
both business and private, take their place. History will see such changes
(those taking place now), as punctuated ones comparable only to the agricultural and industrial ones of the past.

Paul Hughes