[extropy-chat] Futures Past

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Sun Oct 9 21:06:26 UTC 2005

On 10/9/05, Mike Lorrey <mlorrey at yahoo.com> wrote:
> However, some unusual ones I don't recall having been predicted:
> a) discovery of exo-planets (as soon as they did).

Sadly, I recall reading about discovery of exoplanets - not just prediction,
but repeated, announced discoveries (which were presumably subsequently
retracted, though I never read about the retractions) - in the 70s and 80s.

> most sf oddly
> ignores much astronomy and expects interstellar missions to fly blindly
> to new stars in search of habitable planets.

*nods* Intrepid survey teams charting the unknown offer a lot of
possibilities for interesting plots that you can't really have any other
way, so we can grant artistic license on that one, while not taking it as a

> The reality is coming to
> be that when and if we ever launch interstellar probes, they will be
> directed at star systems with planets that we pretty much know about,
> and whether they are life-bearing or capable of being life-bearing.
> Thus the likely primary cargo of any such probe will be some form of
> FTL entanglement technology, either for communication or travel, if
> such tech is ever developed.

Or, if it remains impossible to use FTL entanglement for communications,
just a plain old-fashioned laser receiver will still get the job done.

b) Seti at Home and similar distributed computing projects giving huge
> computational capacity for nano-pennies on the dollar compared to
> commercial supercomputers. While Vinge predicted such with True Names,
> I don't recall similar predictions before him.

True Names was damn good. That's still a prediction a decade or two in
advance, though.

Cross-pollenization is a problem. If we count Vinge as the first truly
> transhumanist writer

Smith was predicting AI and superintelligence quite awhile before Vinge. I
don't know if he was the first, though I'm guessing he wasn't on the grounds
that, empirically, there's always an earlier X.

- Russell
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