Re: Foresight Recon?

From: spike66 (
Date: Wed May 14 2003 - 23:10:53 MDT

Durant Schoon wrote:
>>Eliezer, anyone? Anything particularly notable or exciting emerge from the
>>Foresight Conference?...
> As for this legendary after-party, I was sadly unable to attend.
> --
> Durant Schoon

Since there were several extropians that attended
the Foresight gathering and the gathering after
that, I will take the liberty to cross-post these

Several questions came up at the post nanoschmooze
gathering gathering. At this gathering^2, we had a
number of people who could name all six flavors of
quarks, could write out Bayes law, could program in
everything from Fortran to Java, and yet there are
some basic questions that eluded us all. Many of these
were on the same lines as the post extro-5 gathering,
when we pondered such things as: if one were in a
tank filled with xenon at 215 atmospheres, would one
float? What if one injects a sedative into one
carotid artery, and one hemisphere of ones brain
is asleep, and one had half an erotic dream, what
would happen?

This is a partial list of this year's imponderables,
plus a few that I simply made up, or that someone
would have asked, had we been inhabiting one of
the other many worlds:

If the market and google form two members of the
holy trinity, what is the third?

Why is it that about half the spam today is some prole
who stole a bunch of money in Nigeria and they want
to give it to me? Has anyone ever actually fallen for
that silly gag? Since the Nigerian got my name as someone
who is trustworthy, who is it that gave it to them?
I want to know who considers *me* trustworthy.

What is the opposite of surreal? Is it surphony?
Perhaps surfake? Surimaginary? Or just plain real?
Surreal is kind of unreal, in a way, so the prefix
sur must mean negative or not or un. So when someone
makes a joke that offends or falls flat, could we
say that person is surfunny?

How did Palm Pilots get their name? What has a
hand held computing device to do with guiding an
aircraft or ship?

The old movie The Birds caused us no end to
curiosity. Many of us have not seen the movie
for many years, so our memories are dim, but perhaps
someone here can enlighten us. Clearly Hitchcock
demonstrated sheer genius in making something truly
frightening out of something as sur-scary as a flock
of birds with their beaks out of joint. But what
exactly was making these birds so crazy? Perhaps
they explained it in the movie and we just forgot.
What made them chill out in that last scene when
the three (?) people get in a car and drive away?
In that scene where they find the guy dead in the
house, what exactly was the actual cause of death?
Did a bunch of birds actually peck him to death? In
that scene I do not recall seeing any bird corpses
in the room. Was it not a quite poor showing, downright
embarrassing, on the part of the hominid, considering
he outweighed each of his opponents by a factor of at
least 20 to 1, not to mention the opposable thumbs?
Is there anyone here who does not think they could take
on a flock of birds in hand to feather combat, assuming
the battle takes place indoors? (Come on Beak-boy, you
wanna piece of me?) Could not one surely slay at least
a few? Why was no one in that town armed? (Hey, Mr.
Feathers, meet Mr. Twelve Gage.) Could not the NRA use
that as a good reason for every man, woman and child to
pack heat, as a precaution against crazed flocks of birds?
One can never be too careful you know.

Why is it that when extropian/SL4/singularitarian/
transhumanist types gather, people bring *SO MUCH BEER*
and then devour so very little of it?

What the helllll did people do before there were
computers? Sears and Roebuck catalogs?

What did we do before there was an internet?

What did extropians do before there was google? Did
we just go around, like, not knowing stuff?

When we get wearable internet connections with
voice interface and fast google connections 24-7,
how are we going to explain to young people how we
ever got along without that?

Do they have crossword puzzles in French? Do they
have a bunch of American words in them? Still?

Why is it, exactly, that sushi is soooo good? Its
nothing but a wad of rice and a slice of bait, yet we
cheerfully drive way across town to get some. Why?

How many jokes are there that start with some
variation of: An engineer, a mathematician and
a physicist go to a {fill in the blank}... We
heard about 800 hundred of them, and we weren't
even slowing down when the party spontaneously
gave out. Why is it that the mathematician always
says something silly and disconnected from reality
as we know it? Are there any of those jokes where
the mathematician is the smart guy? I like

Was I imagining it, or was there a spontaneous
outbreak of niceness on the extropians list? I thought
I detected it three weeks ago last Tuesday, for several

Are there any foods that Homer Simpson does not like?
What would he say as a prefix to that food? Sur-mmmm?

What happens if an autistic prisoner is sentenced to
solitary confinement? Would she know?

How much power could be saved if the light inside
the refrigerator were not left on all the time?

Why is it that there are so many extropians with
such enormous IQ numbers who cannot deal with
any mechanical device more complicated than a
cerial box?

Was Monte Hall intentionally screwing with people's
minds all those years?

If Ameridebt got some loser's monthly payment cut
in half, why didn't he just call them again and get
it cut in forth, then an eighth and so on until he
was debt free?

Does *anyone* who hangs out on extropians or SL4
ever read actual *fiction*, without the prefix
science? Sears and Roebuck catalogs?

How did future fiction ever get the prefix sci to
start with? Havent we always had science? Did the
inventors of the genre assume we would have more
science in the future?

What do we call those oddball subcategories of
speculative sci-fi like that show from the 60s
called Wild Wild West, where they had some weird
futuristic technologies but was actually set in
the past? Is it still science fiction? For that
matter, Star Wars is another good example.

How did the diet thread get so huge?

If we somehow accidentally discovered a seventh
quark flavor, wont the physicists be majorly screwed
up? Would they attempt a cover-up? Would we call
it still-more-strange?

Cannot book publishers invent a kind of paper that
does not get that old book smell when one's text
books get old? Would not it be a terrific business
opportunity, to make replicas of old college textbooks
with new paper, so that one is not constantly reminded
that one is way into one's geezerhood?

If Marilyn vos Savant were to get on drugs and lose
her mental focus, would we have to rename her Marilyn
vos Stupid? Or would she become merely vos Normal?
SurSavant? Would anyone have guessed that a person
could make a career out of simply understanding the
Bayesian Theorem?

Assuming the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum
mechanics, how can we be *absolutely sure* that this
is one of them?

This is all the unanswered questions I can recall from
that gathering^2. If anyone who was there can recall
others, do post them. If you have the actual answers
to any of these, or even funny suranswers, do post.


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