Is It Possible To Halt the Exponential Advancement of Technology?

9 March 2012

“It’s impracticable to halt the exponential advancement of technology.” — Ben Goertzel (01966-) {Director of Research for the Singularity Institute for AI}

Goertzel says that “it’s impractical to halt the exponential advancement of technology” and it’s possible he’s right. But let’s observe Goertzel’s use of the word impracticable instead of the word impossible because it’s possible that the power of sociopolitical factors will deem Goertzel’s impracticable as practical. Pondering the future is fun, but it is complicated by the fact that we’re a planet of seven billion people. It’s possible that this morph of Goertzel’s quote is false: “It’s impossible to halt the exponential advancement of technology.” [Ponder the Luddite riot of 01811-01812.]

Hmm… I have learned that learning about the future is easier if I ignore sociopolitical factors.

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Brian David Johnson Wants to Know: How can we change the future?

7 March 2012

Everybody who attended ASU’s Emerge Mashup on 3 March 02012 received a copy Intel’s book The Tomorrow Project Anthology: Conversations About the Future. Chapter One was written by Intel’s Futurist Brian David Johnson and is titled How to Change the Future.

Hmm… Johnson has come up with a great question: How can we change the future?

I liked how Brian David Johnson ended the first paragraph of chapter one.

I have always believed that everyone should be an active participant in the future. If we are all making it and we are all going live in it then why not do something about it individually.

I want to be an active participant in the future. The following was my Facebook status update on Sunday, 4 March 02012…

“I ain’t no ____” has become one of my frequently used phrases. Yesterday, I started a blog posting with “I ain’t no futurist,” but I deleted it because we’re all futurists.


From 01900 to 01968 to 02012 to 02036

5 March 2012

[rough draft]

I had a chance to hear Neal Stephenson speak on 3 March 02012 at ASU’s Emerge Mashup. He took a person from 01900 and transported them to 01968. The changes were beyond belief. He then took a person from 01968 and transported them to 02012. About the only notable change was the proliferation of computers (in both power and number) and the Internet.

I liked Stephenson’s story, but I noted that the difference between 01900 and 01968 was 68 years, while the difference between 01968 and 02012 was only 44 years. How about putting that person from 01968 into the year 02036?

First, here’s my take on a person who is transported 44 years from 01968 to 02012. It looks like everybody is knitting, but they’re communicating by typing with their thumbs and swiping tiny screens with their pointer fingers. People spend a lot of time walking around talking to themselves. Computers are vastly more powerful and vastly cheaper to the point where they’re ubiquitous. They like being sensed, so sensors are becoming ubiquitous. People spend a lot of time using something called the Internet. Planes, trains and automobiles are better, but nothing to write home about. There lots of baseball fields around but you rarely see people playing baseball. And, they still really like our rock’n roll.

Now a person is transported 68 years from 01968 to 02036. What do they “see”?

I only know the following: In 02036, IBM’s Watson is 25 years old (i.e. a young adult). “Big Data” is beyond yotta-bytes and STEMers (Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, Mathematicians) have had approximately 17 years of exascale computing (“infinite computing”) to do their work. It’s seven years after the expiration of Long Bet #1 and it’s possible Ray Kurzweil won (if not, then maybe he would have won if the bet ended five years later in 02034). The Unix clock is still working, but the Y2.038K problem is near (less than two years away).


Happy Future Day 02012

1 March 2012

March 1st is Future Day.

I’d like to see our educational system changed such that for every one minute a students learning about the past, they spend one minute learning about the future. Right now I suspect the past-to-future ratio is 0.01:1, but over the short term it needs to become 1:1 and longer term it needs to become n:1 where n is greater than one.

I hope you have a happy Future Day!


KKK (Kapor, Kurzweil, Kay)

26 August 2010

02010.08.26: Day two of the Introduction to Computer Science class.

[Note: This posting uses 5-digit years.]

Rewind three weeks…

02010.08.03 at 2:10pm @mkapor tweeted:

I’m grouchy that so few people (except us old-timers) have even heard of Ted Nelson http://bit.ly/cGbsWC (Wikipedia bio)

Observe: Mitch Kapor hyperlinked into the Wikipedia.

02010:08.03 at 2:11pm @mkapor tweeted:

All of the web is in essence a pale shadow of just one of Ted Nelson’s dreams. Now do I have your attention?

Hmm… Who is Mitch Kapor?

2010.08.03 at 2:15pm @nanofoo in reply to @mkapor:

I’m going to make sure my CS1 students learn a bit about Ted Nelson this fall. They’ll come in knowing Gates & Jobs, but not Nelson.

@nanofoo never got reply from @mkapor, but @rossk did…

02010.08.03 at 2:48pm @rossk in reply to @mkapor:

where should the Nelson-newbie start?

02010.08.03 at 8:07pm@mkapor in reply to @rossk

Read “Computer Lib” by Nelson. Also see the Wired article on him for a dissenting view

Mitch Kapor did not provide his followers with hyperlinks, but here they are: Computer Lib/Dream Machine (dot-pdf) and Wired.com: The Curse of Xanadu


This posting uses 5-digit years and that is because I am a member of the Long Now Foundation. [Follow on Twitter @longnow.]

In 02002, Mitch Kapor made the first Long Bet (By 02029 no computer – or “machine intelligence” – will have passed the Turing Test.) with Ray Kurzweil. Hmm… Who is Ray Kurzweil? [Follow on Twitter @KurzweilAINews.]

02010.08.25 at 12:00pm @compufoo tweeted:

I agree with Ray Kurzweil that “exponential growth is the reality of information technology.” #future

I learned a lot from reading reading Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near.

In a nutshell, Kapor and Kurzweil are futurists whose last names start with the letter ‘K’. There another futurist whose last name starts with the letter ‘K’ and that is Alan Kay. In the Introduction to Computer Science we use the C++ programming language. C++ supports object oriented programming (OOP) and Alan Kay is considered one of the fathers of OOP.

Alan Kay was once quoted saying: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

The following picture of the Foundation Building at Arizona State University was taken during early August of 02010.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay

I Continue To Support the Arizona Science Foundation

1 July 2010

On 28 June 02010, I read Report touts contribution of Science Foundation on page B7 of the Arizona Republic. In the article Ken Alltucker reported the following.

“Science Foundation Arizona has returned more than $3 for every $1 the state has invested in the group’s university and non-profit grant programs over the past three years, a new report indicates.”

I logged into my AzCentral.com account and posted the following comment to Alltucker’s article.

This story should be on page A1; not buried on B7. If the Arizona Republic was serious about helping Arizona be a leading CSTEM state, then this would be A1 news.

Side-bar: STEM is a buzz-acronym and I’m not a fan of using it. Observe that I use CSTEM instead of STEM because STEM advances don’t happen without computing and computing gets lost in the STEM.

On 30 June 02010 (two days later), State should back real moneymaker was one of the Arizona Republic’s editorials. The Republic’s editorial included the following.

“A new evaluation shows the payoff from this public-private partnership from fiscal 2007 to 2009: 1,151 new jobs, 16 new companies, 84 patents and 11 technology licenses. And this remarkable achievement occurred in a severe recession.”

Many people (mostly politicians) use the phrase “worst recession since the great depression” instead of the phrase “severe recession” and it has been in this environment that the Arizona Science Foundation has been able to help Arizona become a 21st century state.

[side-bar] These days I’ve seen people (mostly educators) using STEAM instead of STEM, where the ‘A’ stands for the arts. STEAM, if used, needs to be CSTEAM. In addition, some people (mostly educators) use iSTEM, where the ‘i’ stands for integrated (not iPhone-based STEM). iSTEM, if used, needs to be iCSTEM.


Spending time thinking about the future

21 February 2010

I enjoyed Wired’s interview with Peter Thiel.

When asked by Wired how he spends his day, Thiel responded with: “I spend a lot of my time thinking about the future.

So do I!

Wired: You’re worried about economic stagnation, but you’re optimistic about artificial intelligence and space?

Thiel: I think we have to make those things happen. We should be looking at technologies that might lead to really big breakthroughs. As a starting point, let’s just go back to the science fiction novels of the 1950s and ’60s and try to run the past 40 years again.

So much of our future is the science fiction of the last 50 years ago morphing into everyday non-fiction.

Note: I used Wired’s interview of Peter Thiel to introduce AI to CS1 students.

Wired.com::Utopian Pessimist Calls on Radical Tech to Save Economy