Re: What's going on this decade?

From: Tennessee Leeuwenburg (
Date: Tue Aug 08 2006 - 17:41:22 MDT

I think it's hardly surprising. (a) we're not done yet, and (b) it's not
very sensible to presume everything will follow a smooth upward graph.

I think there is a lot going on behind the scenes with computing
infiltrating society to an ever-increasing extent. Even if innovation
isn't obvious, I think penetration is unparalleled in this decade.

-T wrote:
> I'm young and I was thinking the same thing just the other day. This decade has
> been one of rampant conservatism and mediocrity, not just in the sciences as
> you point out, but in the creative arts as well (politics is so obvious its not
> worth more than a parenthesis). Film, music and games have had fringe indie
> activity that is semi-interesting, but there haven't really been any major
> innovations. I've got a lot of hope for the tail of this decade as reversing
> the trend, as there seems to be a lot of burgeoning AGI effort that might show
> fruit, and interesting threads in interactive entertainment that could converge
> in interesting ways. So far, however, this decade is truly deserving of being
> called "the Nils".
> Patrick
> Quoting Philip Goetz <>:
>> I'm archiving a bunch of articles from the 1990s, and remembering how
>> exciting that decade was. We had a lot of new ideas about AI
>> architectures, such as situated activity, hybrid architectures,
>> dynamical-systems architectures; not to mention the continuing fallout
>> from the 1980s over connectionism and reactive behavior. We had
>> reinforcement learning, latent semantic analysis, statistical natural
>> language processing, wavelets, and hidden Markov models for the first
>> decent speech recognition. We had people trying to deal with action
>> selection and attention in cognitive archtectures for the first time.
>> We had functional MRI, brain function localization, and the decoding
>> of population representations, temporal spike train coding, and
>> chaotic basins of attraction in the brain. We had decent compression
>> for the first time - gzip and MPEG. We had genetic algorithms,
>> genetic programming, nonlinear science, self-organizing systems, "the
>> edge of chaos", artificial life, virtual reality, the World Wide Web,
>> Linux and open-source, developed the theory of quantum computers, had
>> the first nanocomputer designs, solved the first tough problems with
>> biocomputers. We also developed most of the transhumanist ideas that
>> we're still playing with today.
>> I could list a lot of things from the 1980s, also. But I can't think
>> of much that was kicked off in this decade that's as exciting as any
>> of the things I just mentioned from the 1990s. Support vector
>> machines? Blogs? Web services? Greasemonkey? Micropayments?
>> Outsourcing? That's all I can think of at the moment. Am I getting
>> old? Am I out of the loop? What's going on out there? I can't even
>> think of any new movements in science fiction from the 2000s.
>> There are some exciting things in other fields - genome sequencing
>> (developed in the 1990s), RNA interference, gene therapy (largely
>> 1990s also), microarray protein expression analysis - but I can't
>> think of much in AI/comp sci/math that excites me lately.
>> Perhaps this is because I left the university in 1997 and went to work
>> in industry - but, I never found out about any of those exciting
>> things from my university classes anyway, so that explanation doesn't
>> satisfy me.

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