"The law of accelerating returns"


#1

http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1


#2

So deep is their belief that civilization is the next step in evolution, so deeply do they believe in the myth of progress, that these scientists have never studied the structure of what makes civilization possible. They have this “law” of accelerating returns, but never once stop to analyze the economy of constant growth that makes it possible. It’s not a law, but a fluke that occurs when you break the law of limited competition. All that “acceleration” comes at the price of consuming the foundation on which we all stand.


#3

I learned about Kurzweil’s theories a few years ago, and I watched a few of his talks online. Kurzweil is smart. I acknowledge that. And, in fact, it’s difficult to actually discredit his theories on their own terms. If I have it right, his basic premise is that what he thinks of as progress (note that I don’t necessarily subscribe to the same definition of progress, but that’s irrelevant for a moment) increases exponentially as time increases (again, he makes the assumption that time is linear and moves in a particular direction…or that time is real, for that matter.) With that as the basis of the theory it’s difficult to say that he’s wrong that civilization is actually an evolutionary step because the very fundamentals of the theory imply that it is impossible to see beyond your current “level of evolution” to the “next level” because the next level is exponentially more “advanced” in ways you can’t even imagine. (Unless, of course, you’re Ray Kurzweil. And then you can predict what the future will look like, and it will most likely involve uploading consciousness into machines in order to live forever. And I’m not making that part up. That’s really what these people dream about.) Now, in this context you can’t even argue that civilization will collapse as a result of the instability of the foundations that prop up civilization because the counterargument would be that with exponential progress tomorrow’s technologies will solve all of today’s problems even if you can’t see how that’s possible. It’s not your fault that you can’t see how it’s possible. It’s just that technology is getting better in such a manner that it outpaces your imagination. Note that I don’t necessarily agree with Kurzweil’s theory. I actually think it’s bogus and wishful thinking on the part of those addicted to civilization. But I’m just saying the the theory is one that’s difficult to argue with on its own terms

What I think, though, is that it misses the point entirely. The very premise of the Kurzweilian singularitopia vision is that humans and human-centered achievements are the only things worth valuing. From that perspective it doesn’t matter if we drive all other animals and plant species to extinction. Nor does it matter if we destroy the water systems. As long as technology can stay one step ahead then everything is okay because it will keep humans and human achievements alive. Yet for me (and most everyone who reads this, I bet) this is an insane premise. And that’s where I think the real flaw of Kurzweil’s world-view is. Oh, that and the fact that as a human I actually like trees and animals and clean water and clean air and a world with a natural landscape unpolluted by cities and mines and airports and factories and all the other atrocities of civilization.


#4

I read “The Age Of Spiritual Machines” a few years ago. If I remember right, there is ALOT of money (from powerful institutions and corporations and individuals) going into that kind of research and experiments.

I suspect that there is gonna be a good portion of the population that’s gonna ask for this ‘advancement’, as for these hypnomesticated, it will only be the ‘natural’ course of evolution.

I’m hoping that the ruling crass will lose control before they get too far with this agenda.


#5

Yes, absolutely. I was once in a relationship with somebody who has friends and casual acquaintances who have made singularian research/implementation their life’s work. It’s pretty scary how they cling to it, instead of finding a way to accept death (and life other than human life) gracefully. They are what might be called technocrats. And if they achieve it, they will think that, as some kind of superhumans, they are entitled to more than the “average” human… hell, they already do think they’re more entitled. My ex wants to jump on the singularian bandwagon because he believes that a person who can live for 10,000 years will become much wiser than someone who lives for only 80-- that one day, humans of the future will look at an 80-year-old person the way we now look at a 2-year-old. I asked him if he really thought quantitative age had to do with it, because I know some elderly people who I would consider very wise, who have gotten better with age, but I also know some who seem to have rotted with age, and who have become very self-absorbed/manipulative/selfish. He didn’t have a response to that.

His argument, of course, is a dangerous kind of moralism that self-entitles singularians to carry on with their ridiculous “progress” that will “save the world”, instead of examining root causes. It sounds to me like a religious agenda. Technologism.

Me too, very much so! I must confess, singularianism is the thing I most fear about civ’s continuance.

Was “ruling crass” intentional? If so, two thumbs up. :slight_smile:


#6

just a new set of clothes for the already existing “intellectual class”. makes me wanna puke.


#7

“Ruling crass”? Yes, definitely intentional, :slight_smile:

This "post-humanism’ or ‘trans-humanism’ ideology is backed by people such as Bill Gates, some u.s. army branch, and so on. So it’s not just some inoffensive loony (well, yes, definitely loony) group, or movement and/or religion. They seem to be sitting at the steering wheel of civilization. And now they’re working on civ’s ‘extreme make-over’.

Organized violence (civ) pushed at an extreme level, along with its other civilized corollaries such as: extreme insanity, extreme perversion of beauty, life, and freedom, and the list probably goes on…

The virus is mutating…

I suppose we gotta boost Earth’s immune system…


#8

I think we humans represent Earth’s immune system, at least with relation to stopping the cancer of civilization. If we don’t take action to stop its destruction, I think the only other alternative consists of dying along with the rest of the biosphere. We cannot sit back and wait for the Earth to “fix” things. The Earth has no natural defenses against civilization, which explains why we can appropriately describe civ as a cancer. Sure, the collapse of the whole biosphere will also destroy civilization, but I don’t consider that a solution.

No, the responsibility for stopping the cancer lies with us.


#9

[quote=“bereal, post:8, topic:1347”][quote author=misko link=topic=1430.msg14882#msg14882 date=1236432395]
I suppose we gotta boost Earth’s immune system…
[/quote]

I think we humans represent Earth’s immune system, at least with relation to stopping the cancer of civilization… [/quote]

Hi bereal, that’s what I meant by it too. :slight_smile:

And I’m with you with what you said next too:

[quote=“bereal, post:8, topic:1347”]…If we don’t take action to stop its destruction, I think the only other alternative consists of dying along with the rest of the biosphere. We cannot sit back and wait for the Earth to “fix” things. The Earth has no natural defenses against civilization, which explains why we can appropriately describe civ as a cancer. Sure, the collapse of the whole biosphere will also destroy civilization, but I don’t consider that a solution.

No, the responsibility for stopping the cancer lies with us. [/quote]

We know how the civilized think and behave. We also know how the psychopathick ‘elites’ of this shitivilization think, if not we can find out. And armed with that knowledge, we can outsmart them, and with the help of the rest of our co-earthlings, win.


#10

Wow, what an insane waste of money! The way I see it, these people are playing the role of modern-day Easter Island chiefs, whipping everybody up into a frenzy to cut down all the trees and quarry all the stone just to build a load of pointless statues in their glory. (Here’s a Jared Diamond article: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/24/042.html)

I think acting in concert with the Earth’s immune system will also require us to act out a kind of auto-immune reaction within the civilised culture itself, by tearing down and defacing its treasured monuments; pulling apart its tissues disgustedly from within or turning them to entirely different uses (metamorphosis anyone? Here’s a little self-promotion of something I wrote on the subject a while ago: http://ruggedindoorsman.wordpress.com/2008/09/12/autoimmunity-light-on-black-thoughts/).

What to do with the products of bullshit research like this though? What of the sickly fruits from the billions and trillions put into projects like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Son of Star Wars’ that don’t even work? What possible use will we be able to make of an aircraft carrier or a trident missile? For that matter, what purpose do these things serve even now?

When their society collapsed, the Easter Islanders toppled all of the statues they’d spent so much effort over, as if finally rejecting everything of their previous identities. And when the tourist industry finally came to their devastated island, it performed the most perfect symbolic action: it started to put them back up. I think we’re going to have some awesome bonfires in the years to come, burning up all this useless junk along with the mindset that made their construction conceivable in the first place. Perhaps it’d be a good idea to leave a few charred, toppled monuments scattered around the landscape to remind future generations of the ruinous path their ancestors once trod.