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Accelerating Change

In November the Institute for the Study of Accelerating Change will hold its annual conference studying the implications of rapid advances in technology. An integral part of that topic is the idea of the ‘singularity’, something which I wrote about while at Phenomena Magazine with a column titled “Becoming the Borg“.

For another, more cynical look at the ‘singularity’, readers might be interested in a new column at the Wired Magazine website titled “The Evolution Will Be Mechanized“, written by Bruce Sterling (which Cernig linked to in yesterday’s news). Sterling is not so sure about jumping on the bandwagon of this sci-fi future, and explains his reasons for thinking so. Some fun weekend reading, and ruminating, when it comes to the topic of the ‘singularity’. Thanks C.

  1. Technology and the Singularity
    I too have written about this turbo-charging of human endeavor via technology way back in 1977 and forward to the present. It is a condition that many of us cannot discern while we are increasingly experiencing life on the FLY. Human perception may not be able to pick up on the bits of information that impact their daily lives.

    Yet, indeed it is dawning upon us and we will not be prepared for the day that it runs right over us. I guess that stands for my generation only. My students are of a different bent and some will embrace it. Man is the son of Borg…yet our systems which we occupy are not developed to the point that we are approaching. I make reference to much of this in some of my old stuff held here at my blog.

    I am currently writing a book on the Moire Arena that is so technological that we only see this existence as evolution…yet it is constructed as are we. The more we discern technology the more we will realize the fact that we have made ourselves…we the multifaceted being.

    Good stuff Greg.


  2. Battle Speed!.., Ramming Speed!
    As I approach the end of my sixth decade on Earth (at least, this iteration), I look back down the road and see the truly exponential advances in technology, and their effects on society. If I weren’t a partial “techno-geek”, and interested in almost everything, I probably wouldn’t notice as much. Most of the people around me seem blissfully unaware of how change is accelerating, driven by daily advances in technology.

    I had to laugh this morning when I was at the checkout counter at QuickChek, when I noticed a display of motorized lollipops. For $2.95 you can avoid licking – just hold it against your tongue and press the little yellow button. I wondered if the batteries would last through the whole pop, even though it was only an inch in diameter. With a Dr. Seuss figure on top, it seemed quite appropriate to our high-tech civilization.

    Whether you’re a believer or not, Philip Corso’s “Day After Roswell” introduces a clever twist on the subject. He was ostensibly in charge of the locked “nut file”, where several pieces-parts of the crashed alien craft were kept. These included wafers resembling computer chips, light-amplifying material, and other items I can’t recall. According to Corso, his mission was to take these items and introduce them discreetly into areas of the private sector that were already involved in like research. This allegedly took place from about 1960 on; for how long, I’m not certain. When I look back down the road of progress, it’s odd how the exponential advances in technology seemed to begin around that time, at least in my memory.

    I recall standing in the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, and watching a display that illustrated the conservation of angular momentum. A small metal ball was introduced into a large cone, and began rotating around its surface. As gravity pulled it downward into the smaller part of the cone, it spun faster and faster. Kind of like being caught by the event horizon of a singularity, I imagined. We’re caught in a similar situation, in the conservation of technological momentum.

    Remember the first time you actively discovered gravity? You were probably a small child, running down a grassy slope (I hope). The experience was heady; the wind rushing past you, the joy of unfettered speed, a feeling of freedom and empowerment, until: you suddenly discovered that your little legs could no longer drive you fast enough to stay ahead of gravity. Your only option was to fall down, and hope for the best. We have the ability now to create nearly anything we desire, maybe even designer humans; question is, should we? I fear we’ve reached the point of no return, with tremendous scientific knowledge, but without the ethical responsibility to control it. We’ve managed to control the A-bomb, because its effects are so obviously disastrous and far-reaching. Our newest technologies are far more insidious, but could be just as deadly, long-term, for humanity. I hope we don’t fall down, but I wouldn’t bet on it.


    “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
    — Bill Gates, 1981

    1. What we don’t know…
      I once spoke to a group of teachers at the University of Texas for the National Space Foundation. We had a person from NASA there and I asked him what Gravity was? He responded that we do not know. I asked him what light was? He responded that we do not know. Seems to me that we are still in the dark…will we ever really know what we are?

      I know.


      1. What we don’t know…
        Gravity is produced when gravit(r)on particles collide with other particles that have a measured mass that is greater than the gravit(r)on particle itself. Gravit(r)ons are produced as a result of energy thats converted from the process of enertia. As the energy of a body in motion is released, and converts to a different form of enery, gravit(r)ons are born. they fly out and collide with other particles, thus the gravit(r)on is converted to the energy that we know as gravity. at least thats how i see it. but maybe i’m wrong.

        dd Kirk to Enterprise — beam down yeoman Rand and a six-pack.

        1. Indeed…This came from a dictionary???
          It is like saying that all we see is a result of Physics which was once a word called God. We still do not know what gravity or light is. We also do not know how it works but can throw assumptions out — word after word. Yet, an assumption is nothing but a guess. We do believe that there is a light element within every cell that reacts somehow with the constructs of each cell that creates the illusion of existence…almost like a super-complex pixel charged with information. Life is nothing but an arena charged with information packages from some source that is increasingly complex and ever more unknown as is gravity and light. Our mentality tells us one thing but does this lens on life react to programming or evolution? If programming, I see a Moire Arena holographically represented in a virtual format. We are elsewhere…perhaps even multifaceted as one being experiencing many parts at once. We may be…alone and play like there are many…but there is only our mirror caused by a slight movement which causes some initial observation…all an illusion.

          Not that one is, but that whereby Is, is.

          Key word…WHEREBY


          1. Indeed…
            no, that was not read from anything. it came from my understanding of those subjects. and like i stated, i may be wrong, and most likely, i am wrong. but thats how i see it at this time. you and i are traveling in opposite directions in this conversation. your intention is to firmly hold to an assumption of us(humans) as ignorant of well known properties of particle physics. obviously, i disagree with that assumption. the degree of our understanding in these areas of study cannot be summed up with the statement “We do not know”. because actually, thats just not true.

            dd It’s not an optical illusion, it just looks like one.

          2. Well NASA Does Not Know…
            One would think that NASA spokespersons who, when hard pressed by educators, would tell us the outright truth…We do not know. In all of my studies, I find that we indeed, do not know…yet we know enough to use what we see on the surface of the issue/s but not to know what it truly is. Which is, we do not know.

          3. O don’t know
            In the future, do everyone else a favor When you speak of total ignorance, speak for yourself, and NASA. 🙂 thanks.

            dd You can take all the impact that science considerations have on funding decisions at NASA, put them in the navel of a flea, and have room left over for a caraway seed.

          4. Your Positioning Betrays You…
            Do yourself a favor, learn to be a little more tactful. Take care who you call ignorant and best take care of your own advice…Dialogue is the key here. I did not say you were wrong, but only gave some of my experience in these matters. Take care and don’t be sending streams of water up my back and tell me it is raining.


      2. What we don’t know…
        Light is easier by far than gravity. Light is particle energy. Waves of particles of energy thats released from a converting host is spewed out and travels in a straight line. the particle stream can be bent/deflected as they pass through a medium of substances that can not fully absorb the energy waves. the human brain recieves this energy through the optic nerve, transmits it to the brain, which decodes the information as color. color is produced when an object reflects back the portion of the energys wave length that it can not absorb fully into itself, and retain. the energy that is reflected back is recieved as a specific wave length. it stimulates a direct responce in the brain. your parents taught you to associate a word with that stimuli, and it became that color for you. light is energy that is produced in particle wave format.

        dd When I said “we”, officer, I was referring to myself, the four young ladies, and, of course, the goat.

  3. Singular-ity
    Hi Greg,

    Excellent article, thank you for posting the link. I guess I stand with Sterling on this question – I am an 80’s cyberpunk at heart, as is he. The question isnt whether the new technologies will destroy mankind – they might, they might not – it is “what do we do about it if they dont?” The problem I have with the transhumanist agenda is that it is, in the main, incredibly self-centered. Annalee Newitz makes the point very clearly in her latest article, “Extropian Trash”. If there is to be a singularity, I am afraid I will almost certainly be one of those down in the trash-filled alleys looking up at the quantum-dot-and-nanotech towers of the new godlings…and probably trying to get them to notice the great unwashed down here in the dirt.

    Regards, C.

    1. Live on the Southside?
      What will be the reality is that we may awaken to find the reality of our true existence as humanity once already knew about 12,000 years ago and there is proof via the Vedic Traditions. We will learn our true being here in this great experiment. What Side of SA do you live in? We have common surroundings when I am not in West Texas or California.


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