Past, Present and Future are happening simultaneously

This post on Boing Boing is about a man who, in 1927, came up with the idea described in the subject heading of this post of mine. This is an idea that I’ve had for a little while now. I’ll dig up some documentation some time in the future, but for now you’ll have to take my word for it.

I haven’t read the article that Boing Boing has linked to yet, but I wanted to post about it here now and summarize my own thoughts.

  1. Time is a dimension like length, width and height. I think my idea comes from someone else’s idea, but here’s what I think: If we were born some impossible height way up in the sky, and we spent our whole lives falling (and never landing) we would never question the continuous downward movement of our bodies. This is what time is like. We are continually falling forward through time, and there’s no reason we can move side to side, or even backwards, or more quickly forwards, we just don’t have the technology for it.
  2. Everything in the past is frozen there. It continues to exist, and can’t be altered. So why do we think the future has yet to exist, and is still available to change? I like Vonnegut’s idea in Timequake where people suddenly find themselves several years in the past, but because there’s only one possible course of events they’re forced to relive those years all over again, do the same things, think the same thoughts, feel the same feelings. They’re reliving the past, without even really knowing it. Or do we?
  3. I have dreams that feel like they might be from the future. I also have deja vu, and I’ve had severe deja vu moments where I feel very certain that I know what’s going to happen next. This feeling persists for some time and there’s usually a sense of panic that washes over me. I’ve begun documenting these moments, but haven’t noticed a pattern yet. I always intend to write down my dreams, but usually put it off too long. Sometimes I’ll find myself in a moment and I feel a mild sense of deja vu, but it won’t just be deja vu, it will feel like a memory of a dream and I will feel certain that I had dreamt the moment, but without documentation it’s impossible for me to confirm it. How convenient.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading that article, and the essay that it’s about. Maybe I’ll come back to this entry and edit it with an update.
Published in: on September 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Notes from The Future – Feb. 13, 2010

The "Gyre" Sea Tower with ports for cruiseships and a spire as deep as the Empire State Building is tall

NewScientist – Our world may be a giant hologram

The holograms you find on credit cards and banknotes are etched on two-dimensional plastic films. When light bounces off them, it recreates the appearance of a 3D image. In the 1990s physicists Leonard Susskind and Nobel prizewinner Gerard ‘t Hooft suggested that the same principle might apply to the universe as a whole. Our everyday experience might itself be a holographic projection of physical processes that take place on a distant, 2D surface.
So what does this mean for our everyday lives? For most of us it probably won’t mean anything, but the philosophers will have a good time with it. My hope is that science fiction writers will latch onto this idea and try to imagine what happens when something not on this 2d holographic surface interacts with the surface. What happens to us then? Is that what ghosts are? Probably not.

Space.com – NASA Awards $50 Million to Commercial Spaceship Builders

NASA chief Charles Bolden announced the winners of the space agency’s commercial crew development competition to encourage progress in privately built spacecraft during a morning briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Luna C/I has a breakdown of each company and their work. The privatization of space is very intriguing to me because it kind of goes back to the old frontierism of the railway companies in North America. It does seem strange to me that so many companies already exist with this mandate for space travel. One of the companies getting funding through this program is “Blue Origin”  which was started by Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com ceo. Between Bezos in space and Bill Gates messing with our atmosphere it seems like the lords of Silicon Valley are starting to realize all their wildest childhood dreams. I figure that can only be good for exploration.

ScienceRay – Mexican Colonization of Mars

Not sure what to think about this article. What it’s actually saying is that the US is teaming up with Mexico to train people and test technologies for future manned exploration of Mars in the Mexican desert. So it’s not really as unusual sounding as the headline makes it out to be. The strange thing though is that the article in incredibly poorly written. I don’t know if that’s because it was babelfish translated into english or what, but it’s hard to follow the whole thing.

Trends Updates – Gyre Skyscraper on the Sea

Gyre is meant to be a research station and an off shore resort, replete with gardens, shops and restaurants. Its shape is what is touted to make it a sturdy structure that can withstand ocean winds. Four arms extend from the center spire (1.25 kilometers in diameter). They keep the structure afloat and create a harbor large enough to accommodate huge ships.

A little while ago somebody made a prediction about self-contained buildings that operate on the same kind of principle as a cruise ship. This is kind of a similar thought. Unfortunately, because it has solar panels and wind turbines and water turbines they’re touting it as a sustainable tower in the sea. But can anything like a giant building floating in the sea be sustainable? Not even close, but it sure looks cool, and it’d be fun to visit.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 13, 2010 at 10:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Robots with morals

Whenever we talk about improved Artificial Intelligence and the proliferation of robots we end up talking about the enslavement or genocide of humankind. Usually this comes as a result of militarizing robots. The Army Times has an article about Robo-Ethics, based on ideas from the book Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots by Ronald C. Arkin. The advantage of War-bots over human soldiers would be mainly physical. They would have greater endurance and better senses, but we wouldn’t want them to get carried away, so:

Robots designed to have guilt operate this way, according to a research paper co-written by Arkin and colleague Patrick Ulam: The robots would be designed with an “ethical adaptor,” while each weapon system they carry would be grouped according to its destructive power and each group of weapons associated with a specific guilt threshold.

The idea is that if the weapon kills “too many” civilians it will be deactivated, and this would simulate a human reaction to killing civilians. On The Agenda last night a panel of AI enthusiasts discussed the future of robotics and the subject of War-bots came up. Someone asked if War-bots would make war more palatable. One panelist said that it’s silly to think war-bots would be programmed with Asimov’s three laws, but the psychological separation between the killing machine and the humans in charge would be so great as to reduce the trauma of war. Another panelist joked that eventually wars could be fought entirely by robots, they could just duke it out on the moon. But of course, that’s what war used to be; expendable soldiers killing just each other in an isolated battlefield.

I think it’s silly to think the people who use war to get what they want will ever play fair. The idea of a war-bot with morals seems contrary to the general concept of war; “it’s okay to kill these people, they’re not really people anyway”.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 29, 2009 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  
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The Implications of Murderless Meat

Oh boy. Eight Ways In-Vitro Meat Will Change Our Lives.

Highlights:

  1. No more ranches, factory farms or over-fishing
  2. Increased urbanization of the human population
  3. Healthier humans
  4. Cleaner planet
  5. The economies of nations that depend on meat sales will collapse
  6. We’ll be able to eat responsibly grown Anything. Including endangered species, extinct species, even humans
  7. Urban in-vitro meat factories with spur development of urban veggie farms
  8. Less shame
Published in: Uncategorized on December 7, 2009 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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David Byrne on J. C. R. Licklider

David Byrne and the Talking Heads starting me thinking about stuff a long time ago. They’re basically the reason I got into Urban Planning, with songs like Don’t Worry About the Government and The Big Country. He’s been keeping an online journal for a long time now but it’s pretty rare that he writes directly about music, or performing, or a new album or whatever.

Usually he writes about changes he sees happening, trends in the world, and The Future.

His latest entry talks a lot about J. C. R. Licklider. Licklider did a lot of work with psychoacoustics and computers during the 50s and 60s and he essentially predicted the development of the internet and a lot of other computer-enabled technologies in use around the world.

In his blog post Byrne talks about how a lot of the technology that was either made possible or inspired by Licklider’s work has led to mass digitization of nearly everything and the dissolution of privacy. He kind of blames the guy for contributing to the loss of books, magazines, newspapers, television, music and personal interactions as we once knew them. But also not. Byrne concedes that Licklider didn’t directly contribute to any of it really, and he says that it’s not really all bad.

Of course Byrne himself makes a number of predictions throughout the piece. Here’s a sample:

  • I see that in my lifetime I will witness the end of books, or most of them.
  • it’s hard to imagine a collection of someone’s text messages, tweets and e-mails [as a book]
  • Many [institutions] that deal with physical objects — newsstands, record stores, bookstores — will all go away, along with their support structures: trucks, warehouses and all the people that worked in those places.
  • Television […] is bound to migrate online and become something very different.
  • the access to information and convenience will be unprecedented
  • cloud computing will eliminate any real sense of privacy
  • The end of privacy in parts of the world is near. It will be traumatic for some, and a comfort for others — for to relinquish one’s privacy is to become a part of the hive and the herd, and there is a certain reassurance there.

None of these are new ideas of course, they’re all pretty commonly held feelings about where we’re headed. But these are the same kinds of predictions we tend to make at our Future Meetings. Any of the above bullets would look right at home hand-written on a slip of paper and stuffed into a bright yellow envelope.

There was something else Byrne said that I liked a lot:

Now, it’s been pointed out that [Licklider] didn’t actually invent any of this stuff — he merely “planted the seed.” But often it seems that putting out the idea that something might be possible encourages others to actually make it possible. In a way, to imagine is to create.

Which is why we encourage positive predictions, especially if they are of a personal nature. So Licklider puts an idea out there and over the course of 50 years it breeds and grows and develops into a reality that David Byrne is inspired to comment on. What will be the far reaching effects of this blog post by David Byrne? What will be the far reaching effects of Interested in The Future? I guess we’ll find out.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 6, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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