[extropy-chat] technological equilibrium

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Thu Jul 15 16:29:01 UTC 2004

--- Spike <spike66 at comcast.net> wrote:
> Are you still reading down here?  Are we getting
> conditioned for hit-and-run information gathering
> from the internet?  How many of you read tomes such
> as Asimov's Foundation novels in your missspent
> youth?

*raises hand*

> Could you do it today?  Do you read long books
> today?

It would be difficult to find the time to do so,

> When did you stop?

About the time I left college and started working for
a living.  For a time, I thought that was the major
difference between the "adult" and "child" worlds -
the time pressures resulting from having a major chunk
of one's day dedicated to work, and the logical
consequences of that on many aspects of day to day
life - but now I'm not so sure.

> About the time you took up the
> internet?  Or video games?

I've been doing both since I was 10, maybe younger
(depending on one's definition).  Then again, I was
raised in a family of early adopters.  At that age, I
had time for longer works, but now...

I've also written fiction - some short stories, some
long - for a while.  For several years now, it has
been difficult to find the time to write longer works;
I tend to write short stories as inspiration strikes,
and some of my readers have commented they tend not to
have time to read longer things anyway.  (By means of
comparison: the longest single story I have written to
date comes to 503 kilobytes of pure ASCII text, over
17 chapters and an author's note.  Some have told me
that, if commercially published, it would easily meet
the Hugo definition of a novel, at well over 80,000
words.  It took about 3 years to write, from first
typing of chapter 1 to posting the final version of
the final chapter and the note.  This was several
years ago; by contrast, the story I've most recently
written measures but 26.4 KB/about 4,700 words, again
in ASCII, taking less than half a day to write the
first version and the same time to later revise.  This
is typical of my works over the past few years.)

> Perhaps society's change rate will saturate or reach
> some kind of equilibrium because we will
> overstimulate
> our minds beyond our ability to maintain focus.

Or perhaps we've simply gotten better at compressing
information, and *that* is one of the reasons we're
developing things so fast today.  If it takes you a
few days to learn a complex topic, where previously
the fastest option was a college course that took
months, then it becomes more feasable to incorporate
said complex topic into a short development cycle - so
a lot more people can practice said complex topic.
Which means that new discoveries can be incorporated
into the next wave of new things faster - including,
say, new discoveries about how to further compress
information and accelerate learning, or at least how
to package new discoveries in such a way that others
can uptake them faster.  Which feeds back on itself.

Various forms of cyborgization - uploading at the
extreme, but even these days, offloading some thought
processes to computers (especially wearables, or at
least PDAs or others that are almost always available)
- are either already employed or being seen as one
path to further this trend.

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