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"Everything you can imagine is real."— Pablo Picasso

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Nov
2nd
Sat
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Q: What kind of things make you worry?

Cormac McCarthy: “If you think about some of the things that are being talked about by thoughtful, intelligent scientists, you realize that in 100 years the human race won’t even be recognizable. We may indeed be part machine and we may have computers implanted. It’s more than theoretically possible to implant a chip in the brain that would contain all the information in all the libraries in the world. As people who have talked about this say, it’s just a matter of figuring out the wiring. Now there’s a problem you can take to bed with you at night. (…)

Well, I don’t know what of our culture is going to survive, or if we survive. If you look at the Greek plays, they’re really good. And there’s just a handful of them. Well, how good would they be if there were 2,500 of them? But that’s the future looking back at us. Anything you can think of, there’s going to be millions of them. Just the sheer number of things will devalue them. I don’t care whether it’s art, literature, poetry or drama, whatever. The sheer volume of it will wash it out. I mean, if you had thousands of Greek plays to read, would they be that good? I don’t think so.” “
Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009. Photo: Cormac McCarthy
Apr
7th
Sun
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Colored Plates - Synergetics - R. Buckminster Fuller. Written by Robert W. Gray, Summer 1997

"Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible." "
Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), R. Buckminster Fuller on Education, University of Massachusetts Press, 1979, p. 130.
Apr
4th
Thu
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When man took to his bed the Computer, there was great rejoicing, and great fear too, for their children were almost like gods. The mainbrains bestrode the galaxy at will, and changed its very face. The Silicon God, The Solid State Entity, Al Squared, Enth Generation - their names are many. And there were the Carked and Symbionts, whose daughters were the Neurosingers, Warrior-Poets, the Neurologicians and the Pilots of the Order of Mystic Mathematicians.
David Zindell, American author known for science fiction and fantasy epics, The Broken God, Spectra, 1992 (tnx wildcat2030)
Oct
24th
Wed
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What was daily life like before almost everyone had cell phones? "You left the house and you were gone."


“If you got separated from a friend at an event, you might simply never hear from them again until you were both home and called each other. At home, most phones weren’t even cordless. You had to stand within 6 feet of the wall. A popular item was super long phone cords. (…)”
— Scott Swigart

“When I was a much younger man, I spent five months backpacking around east Africa. (…) They had no idea I was coming back, and I can still remember the look on my stepdad’s face when he opened the door shortly after dawn to see me standing there, probably the worse for wear, but the better for the experiences I had had. I remember him yelling up the stairs “He’s home!!” and my Mom charging down in her bathrobe to greet me and hear about my adventures. (…) No kid today is ever going to have that experience.” — Anon User

“Actually, it was utopia. You could actually walk out the door and not be bothered by your boss, your spouse, your attorney, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your bill collectors…”
— Anthony Kevin Johnson


“If you had arranged to meet someone somewhere, you had to be punctual, because if you were delayed in transit, then unless your meeting place had a phone whose number you knew, and you could also find a phonebox, you had no way of letting the other party know you were ‘running late’. (It is interesting to see how this phrase has increased in usage since the introduction of mobile phones, and how punctuality, which used to be a matter of common courtesy, has fallen out of fashion, as people have become more relaxed, and some would say lackadaisical, about their social arrangements and time-discipline. (…)

And impromptu organization was completely out of the question. Pre-internet, if you hadn’t talked to someone in person or called them at home the previous evening, then there was little to no chance of somehow pulling them together to do something. Things had to be continually planned days in advance.”
— Steve Denton
Aug
26th
Sun
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“Our knowledge of the universe around us has increased a thousand fold and more. We learned that Homo sapiens was not forever imprisoned by the gravitational field of Earth … We’ve seen deeply into our universe and looked backward nearly to the beginning of time.” “
Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot upon the Moon. He was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator (1930-2012), in rare speech when NASA turns 50.
See also: ☞ July 21, 1969 on the front page of The NYT
Inspired Mankind With One Small Step, NYT, Aug 25, 2012.
Did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have instructions of what to do if they couldn’t take off from the moon?, Quora
May
17th
Thu
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Right now we’re living in what Carl Sagan correctly termed a demon-haunted world. We have created a Star Wars civilisation but we have Palaeolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. That’s dangerous.
E. O. Wilson, American biologist, researcher in sociobiology, biodiversity, theorist, naturalist and author, E. O. Wilson: from altruism to a new Enlightenment, New Scientist, 24 April 2012.
Apr
25th
Wed
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We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). (…) The paradigm shift rate (i.e., the overall rate of technical progress) is currently doubling (approximately) every decade; that is, paradigm shift times are halving every decade (and the rate of acceleration is itself growing exponentially).

So, the technological progress in the twenty-first century will be equivalent to what would require (in the linear view) on the order of 200 centuries. In contrast, the twentieth century saw only about 25 years of progress (again at today’s rate of progress) since we have been speeding up to current rates. So the twenty-first century will see almost a thousand times greater technological change than its predecessor.
Ray Kurzweil, American author, scientist, inventor and futurist, The Law of Accelerating Returns, KurzweilAI, March 7, 2001.
See also: ☞ Waking Life. Eamonn Healy speaks about telescopic evolution and the future of humanity
Apr
14th
Sat
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Nothing has changed the nature of man so much as the loss of silence. The invention of printing, technics, compulsory education - nothing has so altered man as this lack of relationship to silence, this fact that silence is no longer taken for granted.
Max Picard, Swiss writer, important as one of the few thinkers writing from a deeply Platonic sensibility in the 20th century, The world of silence, H. Regnery, 1952, p. 221.
Apr
11th
Wed
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Memories are becoming hyperlinks to information triggered by keywords and URLs. We are becoming ‘persistent paleontologists’ of our own external memories, as our brains are storing the keywords to get back to those memories and not the full memories themselves.
Apr
2nd
Mon
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George Dyson: Unravelling the digital code

“We now live in a world (…) increasingly run by self-replicating strings of code. Everything we love and use today is, in a lot of ways, self-reproducing exactly as Turing, von Neumann, and Barricelli prescribed. It’s a very symbiotic relationship: the same way life found a way to use the self-replicating qualities of these polynucleotide molecules to the great benefit of life as a whole, there’s no reason life won’t use the self-replicating abilities of digital code, and that’s what’s happening. (…)

In 1945 we actually did create a new universe. This is a universe of numbers with a life of their own, that we only see in terms of what those numbers can do for us. (…) And that’s not just a metaphor for something else. It actually is. It’s a physical reality. (…)

But it was Turing who developed the one-dimensional model, and von Neumann who developed the two-dimensional implementation, for this increasingly three-dimensional digital universe in which everything we do is immersed. And so, the next breakthrough in understanding will also I think come from some oddball. It won’t be one of our great, known scientists. It’ll be some 22-year-old kid somewhere who makes more sense of this. (…)

We’re seeing a fraction of one percent of it, and there’s this other 99.99 percent that people just aren’t looking at. (…)

I think they [Turing & von Neumann] would be immediately fascinated by the way biological code and digital code are now intertwined. Von Neumann’s consuming passion at the end was self-reproducing automata. And Alan Turing was interested in the question of how molecules could self-organize to produce organisms. (…) They would be amazed by the direct connection between the code running on computers and the code running in biology—that all these biotech companies are directly reading and writing nucleotide sequences in and out of electronic memory, with almost no human intervention. That’s more or less completely mechanized now, so there’s direct translation, and once you translate to nucleotides, it’s a small step, a difficult step, but, an inevitable step to translate directly to proteins. And that’s Craig Venter’s world, and it’s a very, very different world when we get there.” “
George Dyson, author and historian of technology whose publications broadly cover the evolution of technology in relation to the physical environment and the direction of society, ☞ Science historian George Dyson: Unravelling the digital codeEdge, Mar 26, 2012 
Mar
19th
Mon
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The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.
B. F. Skinner , American behaviorist, author, inventor, social philosopher and poet (1904-1990), Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, 1969
Mar
5th
Mon
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“A paradox: the same century invented History and Photography. But History is a memory fabricated according to positive formulas, a pure intellectual discourse which abolishes mythic Time; and the Photograph is a certain but fugitive testimony; so that everything, today, prepares our race for this impotence: to be no longer able to conceive duration, affectively or symbolically: the age of the Photograph is also the age of revolutions, contestations, assassinations, explosions, in short, of impatiences, of everything which denies ripening.” “
Roland Barthes, French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician (1915-1980), Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Hill and Wang, 1994. (Illustration source)
Jan
22nd
Sun
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What people haven’t seemed to notice is that on earth, of all the billions of species that have evolved, only one has developed intelligence to the level of producing technology. Which means that kind of intelligence is really not very useful. It’s not actually, in the general case, of much evolutionary value. We tend to think, because we love to think of ourselves, human beings, as the top of the evolutionary ladder, that the intelligence we have, that makes us human beings, is the thing that all of evolution is striving toward. But what we know is that that’s not true.

Obviously it doesn’t matter that much if you’re a beetle, that you be really smart. If it were, evolution would have produced much more intelligent beetles. We have no empirical data to suggest that there’s a high probability that evolution on another planet would lead to technological intelligence.
Tim Maudlin, (B.A. Yale, Physics and Philosophy; Ph.D. Pittsburgh, History and Philosophy of Science), ☞ What Happened Before the Big Bang? The New Philosophy of Cosmology, The Atlantic, Jan 2012.
Jan
7th
Sat
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Our culture is an edifice built of externalized memories.
Joshua Foer, American science journalist, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Penguin Press HC, New York, 2011
Jan
5th
Thu
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Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.
John Maeda, Japanese-American graphic designer, computer scientist, university professor, and author, The Laws of Simplicity (pdf), MIT Press, 2006