1. Cuando un científico viejo y distinguido afirma que algo es posible, es casi seguro que está en lo correcto. Cuando afirma que algo es imposible, es muy probable que esté equivocado.
2. La única manera de descubrir los límites de lo posible es aventurarse más allá de ellos, hacia lo imposible.
3. Cualquier tecnología suficientemente avanzada no se diferencia de la magia.
José Luis Cordeiro
Future Day events in Peru!]]>
I kicked off from the tree I was hanging from. The low gravity allowed me to float enough on the way down, direction being subjective here, so that I could perform a very dramatic three-point landing by the hammock where I intended to nap. My companion called himself Jimmy. “He” was the ship. Some of them adopted a gender, most didn’t. Jimmy didn’t but preferred to be addressed as a male. I think because the name Jimmy amused him. He had an obscure sense of humor. He spent a good deal of his time shooting off parts of his consciousness into various rodent-like creatures, partially to climb into the ship superstructure for the purpose of repair, but mostly, I think to bedevil me.
“Hey! What you doing?” It was a few hours after my nap and I was shaving. “You should let your hair grow, man. Makes you look intelligent.” I grabbed the rodent out of the air and shaved a strip up its back. It winced and let itself flow to the ground before loping off in the half grav. I turned off my shaver and waited a beat, listening to the internal vacuum cycle down… “That wasn’t very nice. No ice cream for you.”
“Ah, you know I love you, Jimmy.” I did. He was like the nudge little brother I never had. “Whud you got?” He rattled off some crap about time-like whatsis and my ocular implant flashed up some very interesting links, I’m sure, if I cared to follow up on any of it. I didn’t. “Uh, thanks, Jimmy.” I knew the practical upshot of what he had said was that we were now in position to transmit.
“Yeah, I found the exact spot the Earth was in…”
“Thanks bud.” He tended to be needy. His sigh followed me as I jumped and swung through the jungle-like vines in the main atrium. The sound system was in everything. The trees and vines, my beer can, any reasonably solid surface conducted sound and acted as Jimmy’s vocal chords. I was on my way back to the hammock, which served as the “Command Center”.
“Git.” I swatted at the rodent that had been asleep, drooling into my hammock. When I left Earth a few hundred years back the command center had been very shiny and technical looking, with lots of cool blinking lights and all kinds of geegaws that did very impressive things. The longer I lived in space the looser I got. For a real long time Jimmy enjoyed being Boy Wonder to my Batman, and the command center had been fitted out to look like a cave, wet rock walls, bats, and English butler. For the last handful of decades, we both decided to try a modified semi tropical environment.
Jimmy was a pretty average cylinder from the outside. The drive was a large solar sail with a red, two-thumbed fist design. Various inflatable pods had made their way onto him as the spirit had moved one or both of us to add to our experience. His favorite had been a drug lab. I put my foot down on that after one too many rodent parties had gone and smoked up all my stuff and guzzled all my wine.
Inside the cylinder grew a moist and comfortable rain forest, modified to grow “up” from the internal surface, and to thrive in the less-than-Earth-normal gravity. The trees also grew whatever the critters and I wanted to eat. I settled into the hammock gripping a pastrami on rye with spicy mustard. Some mustard had already splotched onto my bare chest. Why wear clothes in a rainforest? Our shared ex, a genderless more-or-less humanoid android never cared.
Jimmy and I usually picked up our love interests together. Sometimes they were meatballs like me, sometimes not. We’d stop off at one of the bigger habitats so I could stretch my legs a bit. He’d fit himself with a roughly human-standard fleshie and we’d go off to hit the bars. Once, we headed off to bar crawl Jupiter’s moons, which was the closest he had ever come to the old timey planet living I’d tell him about when I was drunk. He didn’t care for it. Too smelly, he said, so we never got around to Earth.
I hadn’t been there in a long time. Probably close to two hundred years. It was mostly a nature preserve and museum now, although there was a small population in and around New York City, which was the solar system’s biggest amusement park.
“Alright, dude, I’m ready.” He regaled me briefly with his techno brilliance in reconfiguring the warp core to emit zorgon particles from the deflector array or something that made about as much sense as that. I nodded dutifully and kept thinking about the mashed potato mountain I wanted to sculpt later on to commemorate a popular film director from my youth. “Yep,” he said.
“Your keys are in the toilet tank.” The message would be on my apartment’s answering machine.
“…That’s it?” “Yeah. Why, you think it should be longer?” I think he thought I was going to lay down some powerful wisdom on my younger self, but I just wanted to remind myself where I left my car keys on that Sunday morning, year of the Lord, 1993. The keychain had one of Johnny Ramone’s guitar picks attached to it. I always regretted losing it. I found it one of the twenty or so times I had seen them and I drilled a small hole through it so I could carry it around all the time. I’d still have it today if I hadn’t lost it back then.
It wasn’t until centuries later that one of my cerebral implants repaired part of my long-term memory and I got back the hazy recollection of dropping it in my friend’s toilet tank for safekeeping, after a very successful party. Seemed to make sense at the time. In retrospect, not nearly as much.
“Hey! Look what I found just under the sail assembly!” Jimmy chittered through the tiny mouth of the rodent skipping up to me. It held the ancient keychain. “It worked!…” Then it sat down on its cute, little rodent legs and leveled me with a serious look on its furrowed chipmunk brow. “Ya know, that was a huge waste of resources, just to get a stupid keychain back.”
“It’s for you. Happy Hanukkah.”
“You remembered!” it squealed and clutched the keychain to its chest before scampering back into the little, cylindrical jungle.
Yeah, the future really is a kickass place. Maybe I’ll get back my 8 Track collection next.]]>
Shifting the direction of our gaze, we can also ask ourselves how we think things will be different in the future: in five years time, ten years time, or even a full century hence. This is not an idle question of concern only to the philosophically minded and speculative armchair futurologists – this is a question of immense importance to us all. The world we inherit in the future is the world in which we, our children, and our grandchildren will live out our lives. The way things are in the future will dramatically affect where we work, how we study, how we travel, our living arrangements, when and how we see our friends and family, and how we spend our leisure time. Indeed, it is no hyperbole to say that the very path of humanity’s development lies in the balance, able to be influenced for good or for evil.And yet, how often do we pause to think about such things? There are many public celebrations and commemorations for various events of the past, but virtually nothing for celebrating or commemorating the future. The relentless onward march of time is nonetheless something we simply cannot afford to ignore. Those who fail to keep place with changing values and social norms find themselves isolated and often reviled as bigoted or absurdly ‘old fashioned’. Those who fail to keep pace with technological change find themselves uncompetitive in the labour force, and increasingly inhibited and disempowered in a world which grows more and more reliant on such technologies. Most importantly, though we may not think carefully about how we might shape the future to better adhere to our vision, we can be sure that many far less scrupulous individuals devote a great deal of time to doing so.
This is not to say, of course, that we should uncritically adopt every new technology, fashion, or idea that comes along. It is to say, however, that we should be aware of such changes, and able to respond to them from a position of thoughtful preparedness – whether that response takes the form of wholehearted adoption, staunch opposition, or something in between. Whatever the case, it is our prerogative to be cognizant of these changes, and to pay attention to what is happening now and what future trajectories are likely. This is often difficult to do – the future is, after all, necessarily unknown and mysterious. That said, however, it is not unreasonable to imagine someone in 1920 thinking seriously and usefully about how radios and automobiles may change society, or in 1980 about how computers and mobile phones would affect the world. As denizens of the early 21st century, what events or processes might we consider that could shed some light on where the future is headed? What could we do to make it more likely that the world of tomorrow is the sort of world we would want to live in, or for our children to live in?
Future Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon all these things. It is a time to consider where we are in life, and where we are going. What will be different in the future? What will be the same? What sort of changes would we embrace, and which would we reject or oppose? This Future Day, we can ponder these and other such questions, hopefully in the process becoming just that little bit better prepared to face the future. Likewise, we can consider what sort of future we would like to live in, or for our children and grandchildren to live in, and seriously consider what we can do here and now to make such a future a reality.
James Fodor spoke on Whole Brain Emulation at Future Day in Melbourne in 2014
Abstract: “Whole Brain Emulation & Computational Neuroscience Synopsis Within a few decades, I believe it will be possible to construct working simulations of an entire human brain. In this talk I will explain why I believe this, with reference to recent work in Computational Neuroscience, extrapolations of Moore’s Law, and other such matters. I will also address some common criticisms leveled against whole brain emulation, and briefly discuss some of the many ways I believe this technology will drastically change the face of society in the near future.
I’ll basically be presenting selected material from this publication, with some updates and additions of my own.”
WBE Paper by FHI: http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/brain-emulation-roadmap-report.pdf
Talk held at Future Day Melbourne 2014.]]>
Also see Andrew’s talk ‘Zombie Rights': www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9eo0uzdW20
Science, Technology & the Future – By Design
Future Day is growing – a lot of Futurist orgs have taken notice and gotten involved, and there are events all over the world. We are so excited that the world is celebrating!
You can help Future Day to reach escape velocity. Be one of the initial minority to get involved in launching Future Day into mainstream. Help Future Day go viral by spreading the word via social networks. The Future Day Facebook group has clocked 1100 members – if you are not already connected, please join the Facebook Group, like the Facebook page, join the Google+ community – follow @futureday on Twitter and use the hashtag #futureday when tweeting!
Is it just another excuse for a holiday? Is it about a nerd fetish for pop scifi? The past has a tendency to dominate the present – all to often we cherish the shackles of tradition, we languish in being socially secure, cringe at the prospect of change, and grow too comfortable with status quo, like frogs in a pot slowly coming to boil. History is an invaluable resource of examples of what to do and what not to do, it is especially effective when we accept the past, learn from it, and move on. Since March 1st 2012 Future Day has gone global with events being held many countries and online!
So why Future Day? Humans love rituals. One reason to celebrate Future Day each year is to smuggle into people’s lives an ongoing opportunity for focus on inventing the future, to create the context in which our intended futures thrive – and not just stumble into some default unintentional future.
If you’d like to help create the conditions for deliberate futures that you really want: join in – get involved, attend and existing Future Day event, or even host your own!
Groups in dozens of locations are participating, including Paris, Beijing, New Delhi, Ranchi, Rome, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Dubai, Berlin, Tokyo, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Sydney, Hong Kong, Nawabganj (Kanpur, India), São Paulo, Stockholm, and Edmonton; and in Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Israel, and Iran. U.S. locations include Hawaii, Springfield, Los Angeles, Thanksgiving Point (Utah), Seattle, Springfield (Illinois), San Francisco (@BIL), Washington, D.C., and Piedmont, California (Transhuman Visions 2.0 conference).
Future Day is sending ripples around the web Futurist.com, i09, in 2 places at KurzweilAI, the World Future Society etc – other orgs include the Millennium Project, the Association of Professional Futurists, the Club of Amsterdam, Humanity+ (of course), and the World Futures Studies Federation.
It is great to know that key Futurist orgs are getting involved – it seems logical that futurist orgs are among the first pedigrees of organisations to pick up on the idea, though Future Day was never meant to be a ‘futurist only’ celebration. We intend to see Future Day celebrated in a variety of institutions, orgs, companies and grass roots groups across the globe.
Interviews with Futurists on the topic of Future Day going back to 2012:
John Smart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fngnICG__yM
Robin Hanson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fb0lc9p1sDA
Natasha Vita-More: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng-yxDQEKEw
Ben Goertzel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a257XaJTJm0 , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyHEzWQrx04
James Hughes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qo9k3dUtFE
Videos from a one of the local Future Day events, this one is in Melbourne: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-7qI6NZpO3vS0oVfNrjpK1bT5TPR_xpI
This includes you.
With the rise of the information society, sophisticated technologies and a rapidly globalizing economy, human civilization has reached a stage of development that faces not only unprecedented opportunities, but also unprecedented challenges. Leaders have to effectively deal with not just the speed of change but also with complexity, chaos, uncertainty and paradox. The future arises from a constant stream of human actions, decisions, strategies and commitments that have to be made in the present with as much skill, wisdom and foresight possible.
Adam Ford: It seems that a lot of Futurists/Transhumanists/Techno-Progressives like the idea of Future Day – but how do we get others interested?
Aubrey de Grey: I don’t think we’ll know that until this first iteration is over. The emphasis on positivity that is inherent in naming a day after the future, and especially in thinking of it as eventually being a public holiday, is a new take on advocacy for visionary technology, and who knows, it might just attract a new audience.
AF: The future of Regenerative Medicine is certainly interesting to a lot of people interested in Future Day – how can we mobilize Future Day for focus on SENS and other related causes?
AdG: I think that if any aspect of the future scares people it’s loss of health and independence. Maybe highlighting the possibility that we’ll eventually not have that concern hanging over us will help to make people aim high more.
AF: How can Future Day inseminate pop culture with serious attention on the future rather than just a passing pop-scifi fetish?
AdG: I think there will always be a big challenge for those creating fiction about the future to reconcile education with entertainment, and especially in the context of something like aging that people have become so expert at putting out of their minds. But again, maybe the positive atmosphere around Future Day can be a way to make people think positively about a post-aging world.
AF: What sort of useful organizational practices (i.e. strategic forecasting, prediction markets) could people do each year on Future Day to make it a more meaningful celebration?
AdG: I think we should look more mass-market than that. One thing to do would be to make the equivalent of a New Year’s resolution: rather than doing something for the coming year that will be for its own sake, one could do something for the coming year that has some kind of quantifiable impact on one’s expected happiness 20 years from now.
AF: What about Future Day and Politics? (perhaps as a day to federate different groups to lobby for future oriented causes and enact political change?)
AdG: For sure. I would say that that should be the cornerstone of the day’s activities, in fact, so as to give it maximum exposure.
AF: The Future of Future Day – If all goes well, what would do you envision for Future Day in 10 years?
AdG: Let’s hope it will be obsolete!]]>
John Smart is a futurist and scholar of accelerating change. He is founder and president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, an organization that does “outreach, education, research, and advocacy with respect to issues of accelerating change.”. Smart has an MS in futures studies from the University of Houston, and a BS in business administration from U.C. Berkeley.
Smart is the principal advocate of the concept of “STEM compression,” (formerly “MEST compression”) the idea that the most (ostensibly) complex of the universe’s extant systems at any time (galaxies, stars, habitable planets, living systems, and now technological systems) use progressively less space, time, energy and matter (“STEM”) to create the next level of complexity in their evolutionary development. A similar perspective is found in Buckminster Fuller’s writings on ephemeralization.
In what he calls the “developmental singularity hypothesis”, Smart proposes that STEM compression, as a driver of accelerating change, must lead cosmic intelligence to a future of highly-miniaturized, accelerated, and local “transcension” to extra-universal domains, rather than to space-faring expansion within our existing universe. The transcension scenario (vs. expansion scenario) proposes that once civilizations saturate their local region of space with their intelligence, they need to leave our visible, macroscopic universe in order to continue exponential growth of complexity and intelligence, and thus disappear from this universe, thus explaining the Fermi Paradox. Developments in astrobiology make this a testable hypothesis. A related proposal may be found in the selfish biocosm hypothesis of complexity theorist James N. Gardner.
Smart has been criticized by some in the futures community as overly reductionist and a techno-optimist.His writings do discuss risks, abuses, and social regulation of technology, but usually as a secondary theme, subject to “inevitable” acceleration. In his defense, he claims universal and human-historical accelerating change (see Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar) do not appear to be simply a product of evolution but of some universal developmental process, one apparently protected, in a general statistical sense, by poorly understood immune systems in complex systems. In his public presentations he calls for better characterization and use of existing processes of intelligence, immunity, and interdependence development in biological, cultural, and technological systems. He has critiqued systems scholars such as Jonathan Huebner, who claim that the rate of global innovation appears to be slowing down. His counterthesis is that innovation is increasingly conducted by and within technological systems, and is thereby becoming more abstract and difficult to measure by human social standards.
An advocate of foresight and “acceleration-awareness” in education, Smart has proposed a developmental categorization of futurist thinking, maintains a list of global futures studies programs, and has authored an open source required undergraduate course in foresight development, modeled after required foresight courses at Tamkang University in Taiwan. He has argued that just as history (hindsight) and current events (insight) are core general education requirements, the methods and knowledge base of futures studies (foresight), deserve inclusion in the modern undergraduate curriculum.
Interviewed by Adam A. Ford
Also see Acceleration Watch:
That’s the concept behind a new global holiday, Future Day (March 1), conceived by AI researcher Dr. Ben Goertzel.
Future Day 2012 gatherings are scheduled in more than a dozen cities, as well as in Second Life.
“Celebrating and honoring the past and the cyclical processes of nature is a valuable thing,” says Goertzel. “But in these days of rapid technological acceleration, it is our future that needs more attention, not our past.
“My hope is that Future Day can serve as a tool for helping humanity focus its attention on figuring out what kind of future it wants, and striving to bring these visions to reality.
“The past is over; the present is fleeting; we live in the future.” — Ray Kurzweil re Future Day
“Ray Kurzweil predicts that technological paradigm shifts will become increasingly common, leading to ‘technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history,’” says Goertzel.
“Future Day is designed to center the impossible in the public mind once a year as a temptation too delicious to resist,” says Howard Bloom, author of Global Brain.
“If all matter in the universe is comprised of patterns, let’s redesign what doesn’t work and form new methods for approaching the future with fluidity,” says designer Natasha Vita-More, Chair, Humanity+.
Melbourne, 5:30 PM (1:30 AM EST) to 10:30 PM, moderated by Singularity Summit AU organizer Adam A. Ford and Australian ABC TV newscaster Josie Taylor, with Skype call-ins by Goertzel and Vita-More.
Hong Kong, 7PM (6 AM EST), informal event in Hong Kong organized by Goertzel.
Terasem Island: Second Life, 6 PM EST: a public event, where authors Howard Bloom and Martine Rothblatt and blogger Giulio Prisco will join Goertzel, Vita-More, and Ford.
FastForward Radio, 10 PM EST, guest PJ Manney, “Future Day — what is it? How should we celebrate it?”
Other events: Sydney, Berkeley, Edmonton, Houston, Sao Paulo, Salt Lake City, Brussels, Paris, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Washington DC, Lehi (Utah), and Wroclaw (Poland). See http://futureday.org/events for updates.
Starting your own Future Day event? List it here: firstname.lastname@example.org