[Fwd: [TE] Transvision conf - June 27-29, 2003, Yale U]
jbone at deepfile.com
Mon Apr 28 19:13:44 PDT 2003
On Monday, Apr 28, 2003, at 17:42 US/Central, Russell Turpin wrote:
>> What will the body be like in 50 years?
> Some of this sets off my "Jetson alarm."
There are two pieces of information necessary to defuse this.
(1) The rate of change is increasing, and the derivative rate of
change is increasing. Using previous incorrect estimates of
technological progress over a particular timeframe as a basis for
forecasting is invalid unless you assume that (at least) the derivative
rate of change flattens out, and there's no sign of (or good argument
for anticipating) that.
(2) When distinguished scientists who are getting on in their years
say some future development is impossible or unlikely, or express
general skepticism about anticipated scientific and technological
progress, they are almost always wrong. E.g. "I think there is a world
market for mabye five computers." (T.J. Watson.) Also, "end of
physics" predicted late-19th century, etc. When they say that something
is possible or even probable, they are more often right than not. :-)
Short-term forecasts are almost always overly optimistic, long-term
forecasts are almost always overly pessimistic... and the next 51 years
are a LOT longer-term than the delta from 70s Jetsons cartoons to now.
Not just 20ish years longer, but quantitatively and qualitatively
centuries of progress at previous rates longer. And for the
technologies in question here --- strong AI or at least uploading,
self-assemblers or at least molecular-scale manufacturing, etc. ---
there are none of the "magic happens here" fundamental physical
problems of e.g. time machines, rocket packs, and so forth faced by
fictional sci-fi "innovations" of yore. E.g., we have existence proofs
of things like brains and bacteria; there are no existence proofs of
time-machines or Martians tripods.
The trick is to identify which sci-fi writers are Jules Verne and which
ones are H. G. Wells... ;-)
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