[extropy-chat] Futures Past--time-line

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 10 18:19:08 UTC 2005

--- Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:

> At 08:00 AM 10/10/2005 -0500, Max wrote:
> >And *ten* years ago, in Extropy #15, the Future Forecasts section 
> >"compared educated estimates of future breakthroughs by Gregory
> >Benford, Alcor's Steve Bridge, Eric Drexler, FM-2030, Mark Miller,
> > Max More, and Nick Szabo."
> >
> >I don't have the text handy on computer (but will eventually extract
> >it from old floppies). Anyone have the time and inclination and the
> >issue to type this up for the list?
> Haven't seen that, but here's something comparable, from THE SPIKE 
> (formatting will probably go nuts in email, alas):
> Here are their now somewhat superannuated but interesting estimates:
>                        Birge  Brenner  Drexler  Hall  Smalley
> Molecular Assembler:   2005    2025     2015    2010    2000
> Nanocomputer:          2040    2040     2017    2010    2100
> Cell Repair:           2030    2035     2018    2050    2010
> Commercial product:    2002    2000     2015    2005    2000

Another big complicator in these sorts of predictions is whether they
think that money will come available for their pet projects. We need to
recognise that silicon valley VCs have been rather pathetically anemic
in backing blue-sky speculative ventures. Even in the relatively
reasonable goal of suborbital flight, it took a Paul Allen to pony up.
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have their own rather conservative ventures
going which look successful or bound for it, but all the other ventures
out there are either dead on the vine, or living off of DARPA/NASA
table scraps. And that is just private space development. 

Have we seen similar or better VC support of other transhumanist
technology development, such as the areas above? Not really. Most are
looking to sponging off free money from Uncle Sugar. I talk about
getting out of advocating taxpayer funding for stem cell research and I
get pilloried here. The Howard Hughes Health Foundation funds quite a
bit, the Wellcome Trust funded the HGP, both private sources, but does
the Extropy Institute or the WTA hold workshops on grantwriting? How
about Angel Conferences?

Its easy to make rosy predictions, but what are they based on? Are they
based on "If I had a $100 million check in my pocket today"? Or are
they based on "I think the industry as a whole will get there by
default by that time"?

I happen to not put much stock in the Marxist view of history, if you
didn't know that already. I take seriously the idea that an individual
or group of individuals, and not just ANY individuals, but the right
ones, can make the history they wish to see, in whatever direction they
choose. I suspect that those resting on the laurels of history and sf,
waiting for the nano-santa to arrive, tend to support the Marxist idea
of "historical forces", or the Asimovian idea of psychohistory (which
is pretty much the same thing). 

The future you wish for is not inevitable, no matter how much you pat
yourself on the back that it is. As was proven with the Communications
Reform Act, individuals opposed to your goals can prevent what you see
as inevitable from happening if you refuse to take them on in the same
arena. Historical forces only accomplish things if there are people
willing and able to take the helm of those forces to make the change
they wish to see in the world (which explains why the Libertarian
movement is a failure: nobody believes in taking the helm).

Having 'the right' individuals involves not just those with
imagination, vision, and leadership, but those with assets and those
with connections. Heinlein's TMIAHM demonstrates this well: the
Committee keeps action at a low boil until a fellow comes along with
the money and connections on Earth to make the lunar revolution at all
a feasible idea.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
Founder, Constitution Park Foundation:
Personal/political blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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