[extropy-chat] Futures Past

Harvey Newstrom mail at harveynewstrom.com
Mon Oct 10 05:54:32 UTC 2005

On Oct 9, 2005, at 11:26 PM, The Avantguardian wrote:

> --- Harvey Newstrom <mail at harveynewstrom.com> wrote:
>> 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.
> Well for one thing, the human genome was mapped way
> faster than any one, either transhumanists, pundits,
> or even the scientists that were working on it
> themselves thought possible. It was due to an
> unforeseen but fortunate synergy of different
> technologies, namely computers and molecular biology.
> So in my book the human genome takes the prize for the
> development that caught even the optimists by
> surprise.

Sorry.  I really hate to throw cold water on this example, because it  
is the best example of technological progress today.  However, it is a  
bit of a stretch to claim that it arrived substantially earlier than  

Take a look at the timeline at  

- 1986 Project Announced
- 1987 A congressionally chartered DOE advisory committee proposed a  
15-year timeline
- 1990 The 15-year project officially starts
- 1999 The first chromosome mapped
- 2000 A working "draft" announced
- 2001 A working "draft" published
- 2002 Project declared complete (but only four chromosomes were  
actually completely mapped)
- 2003 Four more chromosomes completely mapped
- 2004 Five more chromosomes completely mapped
- 2005 Three more chromosomes completely mapped
- ???? And there are still more chromosomes to be completed....

The official story is that the 15-year project was completed in  
13-years.  This sounds good, but that would only be a 10% reduction in  
predicted time.  This is not an exponential accelerations that was  

But, they don't count the four years set-up time before the project  
officially started.  This means that it was announced that the human  
genome could be mapped in 15 years, but the announced completion didn't  
occur until 16 years later.

Furthermore, their is still substantial work going on beyond the  
"completion" date.  We still haven't finished completely mapping all of  
the chromosomes 20 years after the project's announcement.

This was a wonderful achievement.  It shows that scientific projects  
can be successful and achieve what they set out to do, even on  
long-term schedules.  But it did not arrive dramatically in advance of  
early projections.  It arrived pretty much as predicted.

Harvey Newstrom <HarveyNewstrom.com>

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