Re: Clueless Bio Futurists

Date: Fri May 18 2001 - 19:25:29 MDT

Emlyn wrote:

> > The entire history of the human race.
> We've survived it so far :-)

If we didn't, we wouldn't be holding this discussion. Maybe our incredible
strain of luck is about to run out. That proposed time machine thing worries
me a bit. Of course the rational attitude is "hey, this is SO BIG, it can't
work. No way!". But the physics sounds pretty pedestrian, and it says it's
going to work. Assuming the causality censor mechanism is for real, and
we'll get a little energy release which destroys the apparatus, and a little
excess? Maybe a lot of excess? Like a DIY GRB, or something which literally
nukes this spacetime?

In case it really works, do we really want to poke a hole right to end
of spacetime? Remember, this is not Star Trek. If this is for real,
you can't make it go away in the next episode. Sure it's fun if you
get modulated Rosetta stone transmissions back which make look Contact like
a sad joke, but what if God from the end of time makes a little home call,
in the flesh? Here's your Rapture for yah, verily, halleluja. Assuming
"lord, such affairs are hard on the heart" type of experiments become
commonplace? Sooner or later you might hit the jackpot. Or win the
nth round of russian roulette. (Okay, I've been bitten by Billie Joy. It's
time for a little memetic decontamination).
> Maybe not exactly you and me. I'd say we are in for the classic chinese
> "interesting times", no doubt about it. But extinction? That's a tough one.

Yes, but even if we "only" off 80% of us all, that's rather lousy odds.
> You know, we haven't even killed ourselves with nukes yet, nor even a really

You can't kill all of us with nukes. If one makes a really large attempt
at fissioning all available uranium and thorium in open-pit type of reactors
(so amateurishly prototyped in the Ukraine), packaging the hot nuclids
for optimal atmospheric transport and bioavailability (or vaporising them
with a large nuke after the reactor core has burnt out) or whatever
else Dr. Strangelove would come up with, you could probably eliminate
all higher life. It would take decades of preparation and operation,
though. Not exactly a garage type operation.

> very large proportion of our population. Or with bioweapons. That's either a

Er, we don't have bioweapons worth mentioning. We'll probably have capabilities
to do some rather fancy stuff in 30 years. We better start working on the
realtime pathogen DNA screening infrastructure (aerosol sniffers and mass screening
of anonymized blood and tissue samples), realtime messaging infrastructure,
personal sterile seals and training in their use. A little modernisation of
"duck and cover!". If you catch it early, and clamp down hard with quarantine,
it's going to fizzle, whether this is a stealthy or a firestorm attack.
Of course you could lose some 10 k people before you catch it.

> damned miracle, or some hint that our crazy world has some kinds of checks
> and balances built in somewhere. Or a bit of both.

It's a probability thing. The higher the level of tech, the larger the population
pool and the longer you wait, the more probable it gets. Yes, space development
does increasingly look more and more sensible.
> Well, heading for the hills wont save you if you are right. Getting off
> planet is a decent idea... I think a lot of us support getting offworld and
> establishing something of humanity elsewhere, as a racial backup plan.

Right now making preparations to head for the hills (rather, caves/mines)
is imo a rather practical, down to earth solution. Just as this guy in
Australia who's burying large microfiche libraries in places where they
would last kiloyears. (God bless his little furry feet). One should not
discourage diversification. These are purely personal projects of selected
fruit- and nutcakes, so they're not even funded with your tax money. Let
them. We could be wrong, so they (and their offspring) would have another
go at the game.

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