Yes, pouring oil on a plate (it was not really oil in the video!) was a powerful image. Something that worked better than I planned! This brings us back to the power of the arts and communications media. And to the point about how Facebook Cities can help. As they can spread media and hence influence our thinking.
Indeed Mary -- the only reason we have been able to globalize is because of oil. Economists tell us it is better that the US and Europe have outsourced all of their manufacturing (and some of their food suppyly) to nations with (currently) cheaper labour. But take away (or just make more expensive) the oil that allows goods and food to get half way around the planet and we are in trouble.
@Bolingbroke We are back to the power of the virtual cities. Religion clearly means very different things in different cultures -- but I think how people may and can direct their faith and efforts and convictions has the possibility of coming together online. So off-line differences will (or could) co-exst with online convergence. We are back to convergence again.
@ChrisBarnatt: When you mentioned virtual cities online and the power of idea sharing, I thought of 3D printing. Maybe that could be combined with ideas shared online to help create things like better water systems, etc.
I think reglion and even transhumanity can co-exist. What the world needs now if people with enough faith to think and build towards long-term futures. Certainly there are going to be people with cybernetic bodies attending churches, and maybe AIs knocking at the doors of religious websites trying to get in. Religion is about caring for the soul -- and the soul is going to be challenged to its core by the next wave of technology development.
I guess I was thinking of collective online activity being in the broad interests of humanity. For example, if people design things or invent ways of doing things and share them freely, that is a kind of public service. We are all now not just content creators, but potential public service providers.
I think the arts have a major role to play -- I work a lot in the arts sector. All societies and civilizations are build on the foundations of their core technologies and narratives -- and the arts sector propogates the narrative. So those in the arts sector have major responsibilities right now.
So maybe the virtual cities we are building online will become kind of homes to collective humanity with far broader "public" services. This may be the payback for the surveillance they will also bring.
@KimDavis -- yes, of course you are right. I like others slip into the "we all live online" when only some of us do. Hald the people on this planet cannot get water from a tap, a billion people go to sleep hungry each night, and 16,000 children starve each day. The world is at best locally moral. But at least Internet initiatives may help collective humanity to care and organize a little better.
Isn't it still the case that a very large portion of the world's population is not online at all? Isn't there a worry that we leave them behind when we dream about the new hyperrealities, smart cities, beyond-human intelligence, and so on?
I am not aware of any major smartcity developments outside of China. They just do it: new city for 200,000 people. Bang. But I am sure that in time existing cities will start to evolve urban agriculture and so on.
The older cities with the most chance in the next 50 years will be those that can maintain their basic resource supplies -- adequate food and water and so on. And also avoid being flooded as the oceans rise (or cope with that).
Sorry Mary! I think the cities that will fast track are the ones currently being built -- eg the new smartcities being built from scratch in China. "Classic" cities like New York, London and Paris will survive, but they will struggle.
Of course, a "transhuman" may be an amalgamation of humans that develop beyond human intelligence collectively over the Internet -- in which case we may all become part of collective transhuman entities while remaining "human" as individuals when we "disconnect".
Tranhumanism is I think one aspect of the SIngularity. I see the Singularity as a a point of expotential technological progress (accompanied by the development of beyond-human intelligence), and one of the things it will permit (if we wish) will be the development of transhumanism.
I think the Internet is empowering a new kind of democracy -- citizene world-wide are communicating and making things happen together (for example I love initatives like WindowFarms where people are crowdsourcing teh growing of salads in their appartment windows). The problem is the new Internet democracy is almost entirely separated from the old political structures that "think" they control and run the world. We need some convergence here!
The divital divide is a really big issue -- and yes it is increasing. However, there is also an issue here of the maturing Internet. We really don't need more powerful computers and other devices anymore to get the key benefits that the Internet brings. So the focus has to shift to cheaper, reliable, ubiquitous technology that everybody can afford.
I think the Turing Test is a really bad test! It assumes that an AI has to be able to minic a human. Why should we imagine that sentient computers -- that will not sleep or eat or have a human body -- ought to have "human" intelligence?
Christopher, one of our users, Awilliams, made a point before that all of these technological advancements are creating a larger divide between those who can afford technology (iPads, etc.) and those who can't. Do you think future advancements will increase this divide? Or will technology be so ubiquitous that the divide decreases?
I think the Internet will support local lving. My view is that globalization is just about peaking (we will soon simply not have the resources to fly fruit around the planet), and hence localization will be the new globalization. But it will not be a return to the days of divided nations and regions, as the internet will allow us to share information and objects (via 3D printing) digitally.
@ChristopherBarnatt: A questoin I didn't get to ask regarded the contrast between what you call "local living" and the more global ideas of a comprehensive Internet and a universal hardware platform... can you speak to that?
In answer to the convergence point below, I think that we are going to continue to see barriers fall. We have seen digital technology remove barriers between so many industries, but that is just the begininning. Fairly soon we will see the convergence between manufacturing, medicine and computing as 3D printing, bioprinting, synthetic biology and nanotechnology all develop together.
Chris: Do you lose any sleep over warnings from philosophers of a Heideggerian bent, who view the developments you've been describing as a way of converting everything - things, people, time itself - into a kind of stockpile of commodities, thus changing our relationship with the world around us in dangerous and unforeseen ways?
Hi Chris. This may not be likely to happen in the near future, but does analytics hold the threat (in principle) of making the future so predictable that it's not really the future at al: it's already happened, as it were, in the configuration of the data?
Christopher: Do you lose any sleep over warnings from philosophers of a Heideggerian bent, who view the developments you've been describing as a way of converting everything - things, people, time itself - into a kind of stockpile of commodities, thus changing our relationship with the world around us in dangerous and unforeseen ways?
I went to college in Lancaster County which is like 65%+ Amish. A lot of people misunderstand them. They don't dislike technology. The fundamental overarching thing is that "technology should bring us closer together not divide us"
@Nicole yeah you're right. One of the topics I want to deal with in my novel is how those that cannot afford the fancy divices impacts notions of class and the digital divide. Apple's "groundbreaking" approach to textbooks is an example for areas that can't afford iPads
The whole Amazon.reader debate is a double-stupid. It's stupid to think that there's any e-book buyer who doesn't know Amazon's URL, and it was stupider to let ICANN launch the whole free-form TLD initiative to start with.
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