[extropy-chat] Futures Past

Harvey Newstrom mail at harveynewstrom.com
Mon Oct 10 02:40:41 UTC 2005

On Oct 9, 2005, at 8:43 PM, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> Hold on, the first claim of success preceded SF writers by a long shot.
> Show me some SF from before 1916 that used the method....
> All this is fine, but I wouldn't actually use any SF as a reputable
> "prediction". SF writers are not in the business of accurately
> predicting future events accurately by date, they are in the business
> of selling words to publishers, who are in the business of selling them
> to people and making them want to buy more of them.
> I would prefer to look at the non-fiction published by SF writers. Even
> there, though, their motive is to motivate the reader to have a
> positive outlook on the future (so as to buy more sf), or to have a
> negative outlook on a technology (like organ legging (Niven), AI
> (Terminator), euthanasia (Soylent Green), etc) for political purposes.
> Popular non-fiction futurism rarely is produced that has an objective 
> outlook.

I think you are looking for something different than I am.  I am not 
looking for SF predictions that came true.  I am looking for cases 
where reality surprised us by arriving earlier than expected.  
Therefore, the exoplanet example does match what I am saying.  We kept 
thinking we had discovered exoplanets over the decades since 1916, and 
they kept turning out to be wrong.  The reality kept getting pushed 
back farther and farther.  The same occurred with repeated claims of a 
cancer vaccines, cheap energy, alien contact, detection of exo-life in 
meteors or on Mars, space exploration, life-extension therapies, 
nanotech, AI, body modifications, etc.  Repeated claims of current and 
imminent breakthroughs keep getting announced almost yearly, and they 
keep getting pushed back into the future further and further.

In fact, I am not interested in SF much at all for prediction purposes. 
  My real interest is whether transhumanists have been better at 
predicting the future than mainstream predictors.  I.E., have our 
claims of an accelerated future panned out so far?  As far as I can 
tell, I don't think so.  I think the past decade or two shows that our 
predictions are falling short.  The future is not arriving as fast as 
we predicted.  We are not predicting better than mainstream pundits or 
industry about future technological advancements.  Our main claim to 
fame is that the future is coming faster than people expect and that we 
are more in the "know" about its rate of advancement.  But evidence 
seems to be piling up to the contrary.

So I'll repeat my question again:  Are there any examples of 
transhumanist claims or predictions that actually have come true?  
There are dozens if not hundreds of examples of our claims that have 
failed to come true.

Harvey Newstrom <HarveyNewstrom.com>

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