Millennial 2000 meme

Lyle Burkhead (
Sat, 28 Sep 1996 00:59:29 -0500 (EST)

Anders Sandberg:
> I'm not sure it is the 2000 meme that is dangerous, it is the millennial
> meme. While there are many fringe groups awaiting armageddon in 1999,
> 2000, 2001 or possibly 2012, there are many more people who expect
> Something Big to happen soon, not necessarily at the millennium.

I began my last post on this subject with this statement:

> I agree that some kind of momentous, unprecedented event is imminent.

But the thing is, I have always had this expectation. Even when I was a
little boy, long before I knew anything about science or computers,
I had a sense of imminent doom, or imminent transformation, or
some kind of momentous event. And I'm not the only one. People
have been expecting some kind of apocalypse for thousands of years.

About 700 B.C., Isaiah wrote

> All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved
> and the sky rolled up like a scroll;
> all the starry host will fall
> like withered leaves from the vine,
> like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
> Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
> Look at the earth beneath;
> the heavens will vanish like smoke,
> the earth will wear out like a garment
> and its inhabitants will die like flies...
> Behold, I will create
> new heavens and a new earth.
> The former things will not be remembered,
> nor will they come to mind...
> Never again will there be in it [the new Jerusalem]
> an infant who lives but a few days,
> or an old man who does not live out his years;
> he who dies at a hundred
> will be thought a mere youth;
> he who fails to reach a hundred
> will be considered accursed.

In 40 B.C. Virgil wrote his Fourth Eclogue, a prophetic vision of
a time when there is no need for trade, because every land produces
everything in abundance, and there is no need to dye wool, because
the sheep themselves grow wool in all colors...

Maybe "The Singularity" is an archetype wired into our brains,
and in every generation we try to make the facts fit our expectations.

I used to indulge myself in apocalyptic thinking. Now I tend to
maintain a certain detachment. I watch myself having apocalyptic

But, as Anders says, not everyone will maintain such detachment:
> This widespread premonition of a great upheaval/transcendence
> will influence their actions ...
> And if everybody expects something to happen, it will happen -
> it is just a matter of self-fulfilling prophecies.

It is interesting to speculate on what might be accomplished
if somebody set out to make use of the "self-fulfilling prophecy"
phenomenon, to achieve his own purposes... <evil g>