Re: how extraordinary the people of the future may be...
Sat, 11 Dec 1999 10:14:24 EST

In a message dated 12/5/99 4:56:39 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

> Heck, I already appreciate some things in _this future_ more than 
>  latecomers: LEDs are still magical when I think about them. They're "Yeah, 
>  so?" to people who grew up in a world that had always had these cold 
>  crystalline light sources built into practically everything. (<--rhetoric)

I have a strange and sometimes disconcerting dissonance between experience of this feeling and a gut perception of just how primitive our world is, compared to what we hope it will soon be. In the "I'm living in the future" category, some common triggers for me are:

<|> The Net: near-instant access to huge amounts of information still seems
like science fiction much of the time.

<|> Cars: Driving down the freeway, I see so many cars that look like the
ones I used to sketch in my schoolbooks when I was kid. For the last 4 or 5 years each month's issue of "Car and Driver" is received by the exclamation "I designed that car in 1968!"

<|> Personal media: The incredible sound quality of a modest stereo these
days blows me away. I'm still sufficiently impressed by the size and clarity of the picture delivered by the state-of-the-art-ten-years-ago big-screen TV in our entertainment center that I've managed to resist updating it. Loading a CD or now a DVD is a constant source of wonder for me. The little digital video camera I was playing with at EXTRO4 seems like serious SF-tech to me.

<|> Cell phones. Clarke's Third Law Big Time.

On the other hand, lots of things seem primitive when I look around the world of my daily experience and compare them to the expectations of my youth. A few that nag me on a regular basis are:

<|> Space development: My perceptions were formed in youthful enthusiasm for
the manned space program of the 1960s and the visions dished out by Clarke and Kubrick in "2001". Needless to say, reality has fallen short of those boyhood dreams. I KNOW that things will get much better in a short time once nanotech begins to mature, and I often get a feeling of serious impatience with the current state of affairs.

<|> Urban infrastructure: I peer out from the window of my office and often
feel like I'm looking through a window into the past. This is a vista I expect to be transformed by technologies just around the corner.

<|> Medical technology. I feel like we're definitely in a time where we have
one foot rooted firmly in a primitive past and one toe of the other foot barely touching a much better future. Thinking about all the suffering and death that lies in the brief period before we achieve a much better technology REALLY bothers me.

The net effect of these feelings is the constant perception that we live in a transitional age. Most perceptive people realize this now, I think. The big divide is between those who look forward with impatience and wonder and those who face the future with dread and regret.

      Greg Burch     <>----<>
      Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know 
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another    
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                           -- Desmond Morris