FUT: Power and Possibility (was Re: This funny Roswell

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*lib.org)
Sat, 12 Jul 1997 23:48:51 -0700

>> I think your guys are
>> thinking too far ahead. Any civilizations first interstellar missions
>> will not be that much different from our existing space program,


>I completely disagree. Statistically, the chances that the aliens just
>happen to be within 100 years of our own technological development is so
>low as to be absurd. 100 years is less than one ten thousandth of one
>percent of the age of the Earth. Imagine two planets which happened
>to create intelligent life which flowered at exactly the same time,
>to this level of precision. Impossible!
>You don't seem to appreciate the power which we're going to be able
>to wield in 100 years. Ever hear of the "singularity"? Ever hear of
>"nanotech"? Ever hear of AIs billions of times more intelligent than
>the smartest humans today? In 100 years *we* (meaning our cultural
>descendants) should be able to launch the interstellar expedition
>described above.

Both sides here are assuming facts not in evidence. Both *could* be right.
*I* know I have no way of telling besides living through whatever I live
through. I think there's a good chance we may auger in on what I
sometimes call "the nano-Beirut scenario".

Someone else mentioned the destabilizing effects of, e.g., handing over
backyard atom tech to "anyone"--me, I have a little more faith in people
than to believe they'd nuke school rather than just cut classes...

But there is little question in my mind that unless things collapse,
individuals will have control of the equivalent energy stored in
weapons of mass destruction--this is an easy prediction because
individuals have already had such control; I mean "more individuals".

My ongoing question is how to make a world like that stay one I
wouldn't mind coming back to.

A great danger is that this, or greater (say, strong nt), power will
continue to concentrate in the hands of the few.

This seems to imply that humans have to grow up or grow out or both.
I don't see clearly how things will go, but I'm pretty sure pluralism
won't be a bed of roses.

>This is the biggest problem I have with UFO stories. The aliens are
>laughable caricatures, Buck Rogers in a flying saucer. They're just
>like we would have been back in the 1940's if we had that era's idea
>of future technology.
>The limited abilities of the aliens are due to the limited imaginations
>of the people reporting them, nothing more. It's just as dated as Star

That's why I like the Vallee scenario(s) from _Messengers of Deception_.
It's amusing to contemplate a natural, Earthly phenomenon that hits
people in such a way that they later explain the occurrence in a semi-
archetypical fashion: angels long ago, strange airship operators in the
last century, BEMs now; all speaking and acting cryptically and "cosmically".

>We've got a lot of new people on the list, and they don't seem to have
>fully internalized the new way of thinking about the future. Read some
>of Moravec's stuff. His new book has excerpts on the web at
><URL: http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/book97/book97.index.html >. Read
>the other references which have been discussed here recently. It is
>gradually becoming clear that the future is not going to be what we thought
>back in the 1960's. It's going to be awesome, strange and terrible (in
>the older sense of the word). It's going to be great and godlike. Any
>superlative you like can apply.

It's going to be extremely rough sledding, at least for a while.
It _may_ get better after that. Then again, maybe not. How's that
for a specific prediction? :)


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