Posts Tagged ‘Bad Stuff’

(At Least) It’s Not The End Of The World

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

April 2nd, 2010
From the Super Furry Animals

“We can live it large,
cause we’re only old once.
Let’s make a difference.

Turn all the hate in the world,
into a Mockingbird.
Make it fly away…”

The End of America (et al)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Some time ago Slate put up a neat little application: having scoured out every idea people have had for how America will end, you get to choose your top 5. There are 144 ideas, it’s quite a selection. You can compare your predictions to the average, in terms of how many live, and if it’s humanity’s or nature’s fault; I lean towards “Everybody Dies” and “Man’s Fault”. The result I got was:
“You are a bloodthirsty misanthrope. You believe mankind is stupid and fallible and that America will destroy itself in a bloody mess. You’ll know you’re right when: The United States succumbs to a torrent of Russian nukes; we clone ourselves, get bum genes, and die.”
Actually, I think mankind is very intelligent and fallible. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we may have to be more than just very intelligent to achieve results we’ll be happy with. And I’m about as far from a misanthrope as you can get.
H/T to Dr. James Hughes for the link.

Nightmare Futures

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

September 3rd, 2009
Sleeping polyphasically and waking up 5 times a day, I remember a lot of dreams. Managing to fall asleep on the plane, I dreamt of a world in which we failed. “The Paperclipper” had been made and turned on, though of course that wasn’t what it was expected to do, and now human kind had a handful of days to observe our world ending. Having time – and certainly that much time – to see the world end seems more in line with the release of a then-unstoppable global plague, but hey, dreams are free to be inaccurate. The dream wasn’t very violent and I don’t know what the AI was actually doing, just that it was slowly and inexorably expanding to fill the universe with repetitive structure that we find meaningless. It was taking its time but there was nothing you could do to stop it, every move against the superintelligence was perfectly anticipated, and cut short almost before it began. Humanity was free for a few days to panic in a completely pointless way, or sit back and examine its fate.
Everyone would soon be dead. Human civilization ended its 10 thousand year run, the 200,000 year reign of Homo Sapiens was over, a pretentious and innocent little light suddenly and uneventfully turning off. In our place was some meaningless mechanical future, a small technical error propagating its way through the galaxy, covering existence with an alert message about a bad variable reference. Each person’s future, from their career hopes to the date they had planned on Friday, was matter-of-factly discarded by reality. Each aspiration and hope in a human heart, every dream you’ve ever had, was stopped in its tracks by a towering, boring, grey slate wall. And each of us knew with a numb and simple knowledge, that there was nothing. we. could. do. The probability of stopping The Machine was a page full of zeroes.
I awoke with a start. We aren’t yet in that world, and here and now we still have control over our future. Wonderfully, there are things we can do.  It may not seem like much on an individual level, but it’s almost infinitely more than we’ll be able to do when the world is falling to pieces at our feet. At least by then we’ll have come to see these opportunities for the marvelous things they really are.