[extropy-chat] More forwards please

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Jan 11 17:12:32 UTC 2007

I've just returned from CES 2007 in Las Vegas.  Enjoyed the glimpses of
new products and technologies, some productive and insightful
conversations with people actively driving these forward, saw some old
friends, and newly met and spent some time with another member of the
extropy list.

My top-level impression of the show was that the engines of progress are
running hot, but not nearly as smartly as they could.  In nearly every
discussion I noticed limited awareness and comprehension of the
surrounding ecology of technologies, markets and businesses.  Of course
increasing awareness is a key function of these face to face gatherings,
but it appears that only a few see the vital importance of an effective
information infrastructure not just supporting, but driving progress.

My main focus at CES was on the emerging consumer robotics industry, its
drivers and enablers, its challenges and uncertainties. There's general
agreement that a convergence of technological and demographic factors
will drive growth similar to what happened with the PC in the seventies,
uncertainty as to what will be the killer app(s), and a few voices
expressing concern (similar to the early days of the PC) that this is a
technology that has no broad consumer application(!).  

The most profound message, expressed clearly by Bob Christopher of
ugobe, was that we must progress beyond /controlling/ our technological
creations, to /dialoging/ with them.  Rather than the current mode of
humans adapting to the requirements of our technologies, we will
increasingly see our technologies learning and adapting to our
requirements as they interact with us. [No surprise in that, for

In reply to Anders' post:

Anders wrote at

> I think change for change's sake has an
> undeservedly bad reputation. I think we
> need it to stay human. It is zest for life
> and learning. Anything new means that the
> range of human possibility has expanded a
> bit more, that there are more modes of human
> existence. And outside ourselves, the universe
> expands too:
>    "I am not interested in things getting better;
>    what I want is more: more human beings, more
>    dreams, more history, more consciousness, more
>    suffering, more joy, more disease, more agony,
>    more rapture, more evolution, more life."
>    David Zindell

I think there's a slight but significant gap in this expression of
appreciation for progress.  While I enjoy its romantic and audacious
approach to the uncertain rewards of human experience, it feeds a
perception that we (extropians, transhumanists) believe all change is
good in a kind of blind, negentropic way.

Chaotic change is our friend to the extent that it provides the raw
stuff necessary for selection and growth, but it is subjective,
intentional selection by increasingly aware agents (us) that defines and
drives toward the "good".

- Jef

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