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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Tihamer Toth-Fejel: on 5/28/14 at 0:39am UTC, wrote Dear Marc, > the most important type of power is carried by ideas." ...

Brent Pfister: on 5/23/14 at 16:40pm UTC, wrote Tihamer, Very informative, well researched essay. I learned a lot about...

James Hoover: on 5/20/14 at 21:42pm UTC, wrote Tihamer, Time is growing short, so I am revisiting and rating. I like it...

Jayakar Joseph: on 5/17/14 at 18:36pm UTC, wrote Dear Tihamer, You say that: "Life has been modifying Earth ever since the...

Tihamer Toth-Fejel: on 5/17/14 at 13:28pm UTC, wrote Dear James, You wrote "the question might be who controls how [the three...

Peter Jackson: on 5/13/14 at 15:40pm UTC, wrote Toth, A very proficient, thoughtful and thorough essay. Two thins stood...

Aaron Feeney: on 5/11/14 at 1:28am UTC, wrote P.S., If you do read my paper, please also read my conversations with...

Domenico Oricchio: on 5/9/14 at 16:52pm UTC, wrote I think that in a different possible evolution, with intelligent being...


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FQXi FORUM
May 25, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Three Crucial Technologies to Steer Our Future by Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel [refresh]
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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 18:05 GMT
Essay Abstract

Moore’s Law and Kurzweill’s Law of Accelerated Returns predict that technology will significantly change our lives –not only directly by giving us more power to meet our basic physical needs, but indirectly in art, society, governance, war, ethics, and religion. Progress is being made in three areas which are not only new, but have exponential and far-reaching impacts: 1. Nanotechnologies that can precisely and programmatically control individual atoms, 2. Aerospace technologies that can spread our biosphere beyond Earth, and 3. Computer technologies that can improve our thinking.

Author Bio

Tihamer Toth-Fejel is a software engineer working for a small government contractor. He earned his MSEE from the University of Notre Dame, where his master’s thesis was on “Self-Test: From Simple Circuits to Self-Replicating Automata” and resulted in his first article on Transhumanist themes: Angels of Steel. His 1996 LEGOs to the Stars: Kinetic Cellular Automata, and Parallel Nanomachines for Space Applications anticipated much of the subsequent work in modular robotics, and led to his being PI for the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts’ project "A Kinematic Cellular Automata Approach to Self-Replicating Systems"

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Mark Avrum Gubrud wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 13:49 GMT
Quite a wealth of very relevant ideas here.

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 11:04 GMT
Thank you for reading my essay.

I think that a poetic imagery have broader audience, so that I prefer to write for all, and it is more funny for me, and I hope for others.

When I say that the ethical behaviour is genetic, I don't say that there is a solution to the evil, but the the world could be worse: I don't like some situations in the world, like in Syria, or North Korea, but I am sure that it is a temporary situation (the evil don't exist forever); we have seen many collapses of unethical economic system, and I think that it is the rule.

I think that with life on the Earth have some chemical elements available (with some proportions), and some chemical reactions (with some restrictions): I am willing to bet that the more efficient system are these natural biological product; so I think that with an artificial extension (of chemical element, and means of constructions) it is possible to improve the usual technology.

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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel replied on May. 8, 2014 @ 19:02 GMT
Dear Domenico,

You wrote, "I don't like some situations in the world, like in Syria, or North Korea, but I am sure that it is a temporary situation (the evil don't exist forever); we have seen many collapses of unethical economic system, and I think that it is the rule."

I get the impression that you are afraid to condemn North Korea and other dictatorships as objectively evil. Is that true?

Also, I think that you are being overly optimistic when you say that evil is temporary; Given our past, it seems more likely that evil will be with us until the end of time. True, all evil empires have eventually fallen, but water-based ones have lasted for many centuries. What will happen if a dictator controls an immortality drug?

Finally, to ask a question closer to home: What keeps a not-so-evil empire from becoming evil? One thing that is necessary for that is an objective, unchanging definition of what evil is.

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Domenico Oricchio replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 08:17 GMT
I think that the humans are social animals, like the elephants, dolphins and wolves; we help, we have empathy, we are moved when we see a beautiful movie, or when we see someone suffer; it is not a natural state what happen is Syria (shabiha), or in North Korea (concentration camps), it is only a horror (no fear).

There was horror in Aztec Empire, in the Nazi Germany but also in Germany there was the White Rose and the Widerstand, because the dictatorship have always natural antibodies.

The wolf that hunt a prey is not evil, because the weak prey are killed, and the prey race is improved, reducing sick animals and genetic disease; the human hunting, without discrimination, is evil because there is not natural selection; if evil is to hurt another man, then an evil empire hurt the people.

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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 15:30 GMT
Dear Domenico,

You wrote that the Syrian shabiha and the North Korean concentration camps are not part of our "natural state".

I beg to disagree; Every history book in every country is full of wars, and murder is ancient (Otzi was murdered 6000 years ago).

Am I understanding you correctly when you say that killing the weak is OK? Hmm.. I was once one of the top wrestlers in the USA (I also learned judo and ju-jitsu, and was undefeated in boxing). What if you and I are the only survivors of a shipwreck, and there is only one bottle of water left? Why shouldn't I kill you for it? What if you have gun? Why shouldn't you kill me for it?

The only reason we must not kill each other would be if it were objectively wrong--something along the lines of "We are both made in the image and likeness of God, and if we murder each other, then we are reducing ourselves into mere beasts. And that would be worse than dying."

Alas, this is a fallen world, so people do act like animals. Most humans see ourselves in a zero-sum-game, where anything you win results in my loss--so I better get it so you don't.

However, molecular manufacturing can provide everyone with a billionaire standard of living in the endless frontier of Space. The problem is that it may take a generation for zero-sum thinking to give way to the mentality of abundance. The Open Source model gives reason to hope that this is already starting to happen.

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 11:45 GMT
I read your interesting essay.

I don't think that the world is increasingly religious fundamentalist, I see a world that become more ethical, less religious when there are countries with contacts, intersections, exchanges of ideas: I like the city on the sea, where there are ports, different peoples, and different languages; people are more personable.

I think that the "angels" exist in people who do good, and each country has many, the examples are worth more of recomandations.

The programmable nanofactory is a good idea, is the end of the chemistry and metallurgy, with optimal materials for energy use and for characteristics; I think that the personalized nano-medicine will arrive.

I think that new form of engineered life on the Earth can be a danger, without containment (some problems with the simple genetically modified organism have occured, it is like a medicine that we cannot stop to take).

I think that self reproducing replicator are possible in a bioreactor for nanocubes with the right precursors, temperature, pressure and mixing (to break randomly and randomly bond the covalent bond) until the self replication.

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Anonymous replied on May. 8, 2014 @ 19:44 GMT
Dear Domenico,

You wrote, "I don't think that the world is increasingly religious fundamentalist."

The statistics of demography say otherwise. See http://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/10755

Let's say that we have two groups of people: one group believes that life is meaningless; therefore the everyone should grab all the pleasure out of life at all times (and do it rationally, i.e. sometimes balancing short term sacrifices with long term pleasures). The second group believes in a deity who created them and who loves them enough to sacrifice himself for them, and encourages them to have children. Who do you think will have more children?

You also wrote, "I see a world that become more ethical." Maybe; I'm not sure. It seems to me that we can't even agree what constitutes ethical behavior. I'm fairly certain, for example, that many of the actions defended by bioethicists today are the opposite of what most philosophers two centuries ago would stand by.

As far as engineered life on Earth being dangerous... well, yes. Photosynthesis was *very* dangerous to Earth when it was first evolved by the microbial ancestors, causing the great Oxygen Crisis 2.3 billion year ago. It wiped out most of life on this planet, and caused the 300 million year ice age known as the Huronian glaciation. Doubling photosynthetic efficiency might have similar effects. The solution is to back up the Earth's biosphere elsewhere in the Solar System, and back it up many times. Also, experiments should be done elsewhere, rather than on Earth.

Self-replicating nanosystem will not occur in a bioreactor because they will not require random breaks and bonding between molecules. Such stochastic thermodynamic processes are inefficient compared to deterministic bonding. Self-replicating nanosystems will be robotic at the nanoscale.

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Domenico Oricchio replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 08:40 GMT
There was a time, a long time ago, where the humans had no religions, so the religion is not a human necessity, but in distant places (in the time and in the space) the religion has existed, as a natural consequence of the human development.

The ethic is always changing, how to change the human nature, the culture, and what offends us, or that make us enjoy.

The genetic algorithms are like the Artificial Intelligence, learn from real data without human intervention; it is only an optimization algoritm like the gradient descent, but in the gradient descent it is necessary to know the function, and the derivative, and there must be the theory; in the genetic algorithms is necessary only a measuring apparatus and a random generator.

I am thinking a different example to simplify: a number of furnace robots that try all the superconductors with random compositions, and random metalworking, with no theory until to obtain the optimal material, so that the final product can be studied to undestand the theory; if in some month it is possible to try hundreds of years of metallurgy, then some casual results can be obtained (and the superconductivity was a casual results, like many other technological results).

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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 14:34 GMT
Dear Domenico,

You wrote that "There was a time, a long time ago, where the humans had no religion."

How long ago? Paleontologists have found undisputed evidence of religion (burial rituals) going back 130,000 years. We weren't even Homo sapiens yet (and there is disputed evidence from 300,000 years ago). Physical evidence for shamanism is 30,000 years old. Ptahhotep, the oldest author whose name we know, wrote extensively 4,500 years ago about the teachings of Maat, the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth and justice.

You wrote: "so religion is not a human necessity",

If your premise is incorrect, then your consequence is unsupported. In addition, by the United States Supreme Court's definition of a functional religion, any set of beliefs that a person believes is a religion. Most atheists share the non-provable metaphysical Judeo-Christian assumptions on which science depends: that the universe is ordered, and that it is understandable. Pagans don't believe either. Non-pagans take it on faith because we have no other choice; and besides, it does *seem* to be true (i.e. it works most of the time); but it cannot be proven.

You wrote that genetic algorithms only need a measuring apparatus and a random generator.

Well, yes, except that random walks have serious problems, as Doug Lenat discovered when he build and extended AM and EURISKO. The discoveries of genetic algorithm are limited by the representation of the domain knowledge. Typically the machine is only shuffling symbols, so it has little "understanding" of what it is doing. That is why I like RDF/OWL--the subject-predicate-object triplet form, along with a descriptive logic, makes it possible for the machine to make inferences. In addition, the grounding of nodes to unique tokens makes it possible for the machine to make inferences about it's own symbol-manipulation). This may be the beginning of a primitive type of consciousness.

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James Dunn wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 15:31 GMT
Tihamer,

You cite 3 necessary tools.

1. Develop physical tools that give atomically precise control over bulk matter,

2. Multiply the size, diversity, and hardiness of Earth’s biosphere (by transplanting it elsewhere),

3. Develop tools that help us think better.

I believe I have produced a foundation to provide one of your tools.

Regarding building...

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James Dunn replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 15:43 GMT
If you have an interest in becoming involved with Better Thinking, please consider becoming a part of:

UA-KiTS.com

Unlocking Aptitude - Knowledge in Translational States

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James Lee Hoover wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 02:59 GMT
Tihamer,



1. Nanotechnologies that can precisely and programmatically control individual atoms, 2. Aerospace technologies that can spread our biosphere beyond Earth, and 3. Computer technologies that can improve our thinking.

Three worthy technologies will have impacts but the question might be who controls how they are used. Right now the control is in the hands of monolithic corporations who in turn control governments, media, and culture. Spending on war and war materials is now more significant than spending on aerospace technologies with pure research/discovery goals. Certainly the above 3 are promising though some cite a limit of Moore's Law, seeming to discount 3D circuits, materials other than silicon, and quantum computers.

My concern though is marketing focus and control with short-term myopia.

Jim

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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel replied on May. 17, 2014 @ 13:28 GMT
Dear James,

You wrote "the question might be who controls how [the three crucial technologies] are used. Right now the control is in the hands of monolithic corporations who in turn control governments, media, and culture."

Yes and no. Who controls the technologies is an important question. But how many currently powerful corporations existed 50 years ago? I don't know if you've...

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James Lee Hoover replied on May. 20, 2014 @ 21:42 GMT
Tihamer,

Time is growing short, so I am revisiting and rating. I like it that you took time and thought to answer my concerns. Your last comment, "In a society of abundance, this shortsightedness might be alleviated, but only if that society recognizes that giving brings more joy than getting. Most philanthropists recognize that fact because their needs for basic material goods and for security have been met for a few years," is realistic and hopeful. When you speak of a society of abundance, are you speaking of a future where technology has brought abundance. Certainly my novel, Extraordinary Visitors, describes visiting ETs bringing patience and understanding, even with hamfisted aggression from our leaders. Having abundance due to an advanced technology (they are a type II civilization), they have no desire for our resources. Most of our science fiction depicts warlike ETs.

My essay looks beyond (more pure motivation and advanced science) and within (utilizing the brain's less-used capabilities) to steer.

Have you had a chance to read it?

Jim

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Mohammed M. Khalil wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 15:37 GMT
Hi Tihamer,

Great essay! I agree with you; technology has great impact on humanity's future. In addition to nano-, aerospace, and computer technologies, I would add biotechnology and robotics. The recent advances in those areas promise to radically change our future.

In my essay, I touched upon the relation between technology and science, and the importance of accelerating the rate of scientific and technological discovery. I would be glad to receive your opinion.

Best regards,

Mohammed

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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 15:43 GMT
Dear Mohammed

I read your essay. It was great!

I plan to leave many comments on your essay page soon (hopefully on my flight home tomorrow night).

-Tee

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Joe Fisher wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 14:28 GMT
Dear Mr. Toth-Fejel,

Your essay was truly absorbing and I do hope that it does well in the competition. I do have to wonder about the stupidity of nature. I mean there is no way that nature could have filled all of space with naturally produced trillions and trillions of real particles, a considerable number of which must be millions of times smaller than the Higgs Boson abstract one was is there? And I must ask why has nature waited this long to allow a small group of men to devise machinery that could effortlessly re-arrange atoms so that they work more efficiently and properly and produce more 3d printed guns and 3D printed ammunition? Why did God not mention this trickery to Moses instead of lumbering him with two chunks of stone?

Regards,

Joe Fisher

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Member Marc Séguin wrote on May. 5, 2014 @ 00:36 GMT
Tihamer,

I really enjoyed your essay. I agree with you that we cannot really predict the future, but that we can create it, day by day. I also liked your list of the characteristics that we all share, and that must be taken into consideration in any solution. As I said in my essay, we already live in the science-fiction of yesterday, and I really like your quote, from Christine Peterson:

If someone is talking about the future, and what they're saying sounds like science-fiction, it might be wrong... but if it doesn't sound like science-fiction, it's definitely wrong.

You say that the most important type of power is carried by ideas. I believe that it is through improved education that we will raise the awareness and the knowledge of humanity in order to steer the future better. If you have the time to read my essay on "Futurocentric education", rate it and comment on it, it would be quite appreciated!

Marc

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Author Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel replied on May. 28, 2014 @ 00:39 GMT
Dear Marc,

> the most important type of power is carried by ideas."

Yes, ideas have consequences. Ideas that correctly describe how humans think (like democracy) tend to bring prosperity and happiness. Incorrect ideas can be fatal. The most notable example of this, of course, is the attempt to create the Master Race, which ended up in the Final Solution. Similarly, beliefs in racial inequalities naturally led to slavery and apartheid.

> "I believe that it is through improved education that we will raise the awareness and the knowledge of humanity in order to steer the future better."

There are two problems with education.

First, education does not always convey correct ideas. Many Nazis learned their eugenics at University of California, Berkeley. Even worse, at the time, it is often difficult to determine that some novel idea will lead to disaster.

Second is that some people do not want to be educated at all; others just are not interested in being educated in virtues or wisdom. Or future studies. I.e anything that may require them to make a change in the way they live (because change is painful, plus change is a reminder of impending death). Future Studies has been taught at universities for decades, and on-line courses are available (e.g. http://www.csudh.edu/global_options/introfs.html).

>"If you have the time to read my essay on "Futurocentric education", rate it and comment on it, it would be quite appreciated!"

It's the least I can do.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on May. 7, 2014 @ 11:06 GMT
Hi Tihamer,

I like that you have clearly identified a really big difficulty, Quote "Ultimately, we really cannot predict the future accurately; we can only create it, day by day." Yes I agree we can create it, but we are also at the mercy of nature/the universe in many regards.

I like this following quote because that is what I have written. "Science fiction is good at inspiring...

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Peter Jackson wrote on May. 13, 2014 @ 15:40 GMT
Toth,

A very proficient, thoughtful and thorough essay. Two thins stood out for me;

"new scientific knowledge must be gained before significant progress can be made"

and probably essential to enable advancement to that end;

"Develop tools that help us think better."

A nice job, well done, worth a high finish. I also develop both in my essay which I hope you'll read; deriving QM understandably with classical mechanics and dynamic geometry, but also a touch of romance!

Best of luck in the contest.

Peter

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on May. 17, 2014 @ 18:36 GMT
Dear Tihamer,

You say that:

"Life has been modifying Earth ever since the evolution of photosynthesis."

In relevant to this, I would like to point out that,

The Causality of cosmic connectivity of the Earth with the deterministic dynamics of the Universe effects Chemosynthesis on the origin of life.

As per the paradigm of, Eigen-rotational Clusters of String-matter Universe, imbalance in the input and output eigen-rotational mass-energy (string mass with eigen-rotational energy) of Earth is causal for its metamorphosis.

Thus massive solar energy harvesting with reflective solar panels may delay the metamorphosis of Earth my increasing its anisotropic radiation and I think it is one of the most essential technologies of Humanity to Steer the Future and in that Virtual real-time data of the Universe is much imperative to determine the quantity of anisotropic radiation to be boosted.

With best wishes,

Jayakar

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Brent Pfister wrote on May. 23, 2014 @ 16:40 GMT
Tihamer,

Very informative, well researched essay. I learned a lot about nanotechnology and new ways of storing knowledge. Thank you for writing your essay!

Brent Pfister

Happy Path

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