Re: JOIN: Carl Feynman

Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 23:08:49 MST

In a message dated 3/20/2001 12:12:57 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

<< For a technological optimist, I'm awfully pessimistic. When I was
 Eliezer's age, it was 1983. It was clear to me, then, that by the year
 2001, we'd have space colonies, artificially intelligent supercomputers,
 self-reproducing nanotech assemblers, brain-computer interfaces,
 holographic TV, cheap diamond, solar powered hydrogen production, a
 worldwide hypertext system containing all human knowledge, photo-quality
 computer graphics, and laptop computers. We only got three out of
 nine. My experience is that almost anything new and exciting is wrong.
 So my first response to any visionary proposal or exciting piece of news
 is to explain why it will never amount to anything. >>

I have tended to be much more of a reader of technological forecasting
(Herman Kahn and Marvin Cetron etc.) and have come late to the Singularity
pursuit. In 2081, visionary, physicist Gerard K. ONeil said, " Scientists
almost always overestimate the impact of new discoveries and always
underestimate the impact of straightforward extensions of the capabilities of
familiar technologies." Maybe Kamen's Ginger is a Stirling Engine of
prodigious, efficiency? Stirling Engine, circa 1806.

I am not saying that ONeil is always correct, just that he serves as a
reality check for those of us who read a science headline, and the wonder why
technological miracles never seem to come about. I suspect this has been the
period we have lived in where it was much more difficult to capitalize on
technological developments because of their complexity.

Now that sensors and astronomically, more powerful, computers have come
available, some of these technical developments have started to stir and
provide results. Combinational chemistry for pharmaceutical researchers is
effecting new drug testing and production significantly. Biological research,
as anyone can see, is appearing to be hitting a take-off point, and not just
with dramatic, "clonning" stories. This has been facilitated, primarilly with
the use of advanced computers at the service of biochemists and molecular

My point is that computation seems now to be finally driving the basic
research to actual technological ends, rather then laying moribund in some

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