Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
The Omega Technology

By Paul Johnson in Op-Ed
Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 06:01:58 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

The history of technology shows a progression of doing more and more with less and less. What happens if we extrapolate this trend? Could this be why we seem to be alone in the Universe?


Every improvement in our technology has allowed us to do more with less. Once it took thousands of men decades to build a cathedral. Today we can put up a building the same size in a few months with a few dozen people.

Our destructive power has followed a similar trend. The time was when destroying a city required an army. Now it requires merely a few dozen men. Behind those men is a huge technological infrastructure, of course, but the actual execution is simple.

Some time during the 1960s the human race gained the ability to destroy itself. At the time assembling this destructive power required the all the industrialised nations of the world to put it at the top of their priority list. Today it could be done by any one of those nations if the others did not do anything about it.

As technology improves in the future we can expect this trend to continue. New discoveries will make it easier to both build and destroy.

Eventually we will discover a technology which allows a small group, or perhaps even an individual, to assemble a device which will destroy civilisation, or perhaps even the planet. I don't know what this technology will look like. Maybe it will be an engineered virus, or perhaps a nanobot. Or it may be some principle or concept that would be as strange to us as a television would be to a Victorian steam engineer.

The precise form does not matter. Call it the Omega Technology. Sooner or later we will develop the Omega Technology.

So could the world survive if any small group could assemble a doomsday machine? I doubt it. If it can be done then someone somewhere will do it. They might do it to hold the world to ransom, or to demand that their ideal government be put in place, or just because they think that humanity is a Bad Thing. Someone will do it. Probably lots of people will do it. And sooner or later it will be set off, and the world will end.

Many people have wondered where all the aliens are. The universe is big, and there has been plenty of time for many civilisations to arise and become star-faring. Surely we are not the first.

I suspect that indeed we are not. On countless worlds strange creatures have evolved sentience, discovered fire, wondered what the stars were, and then found out what the stars were. And then they found the Omega Technology.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
The Omega Technology is:
o Bad science fiction 29%
o Good science fiction 23%
o Inevitable: the world is doomed 18%
o A bad dream 10%
o Rusty! 18%

Votes: 77
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by Paul Johnson


Display: Sort:
The Omega Technology | 80 comments (73 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Alien Warfare (3.66 / 3) (#1)
by SEWilco on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:40:30 PM EST

Now I'm trying to remember the SF stories in the last decade which pointed out that with life being so pervasive, there have been several stupid civilizations which produced interstellar killing machines.

Even if faster-than-light travel is not possible, there can be many fleets of killer ships wandering around our galaxy, building more of themselves, dropping rocks and bombs on life-capable planets. How long we survive may depend upon the travel time once we're detected, and the activities of the civilizations which are fighting the killers.

Fred Saberhagen, Berserker (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by weirdling on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:28:05 PM EST

Humanity is joined by a slightly prophetic race to defeat the Berserkers left over from an interstellar war. Very well written.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
More Subtle Than Berserker (none / 0) (#51)
by SEWilco on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 12:07:16 AM EST

Oh, I'm quite familiar with the Berserker series. But that was presented as an anomalous invasion of life-killing machines from another galaxy.

I was thinking of some less well known recent stories which presented the idea that it is likely that several of the numerous civilizations in this galaxy would have produced killing machines. If life is indeed likely to happen many times in our galaxy, then several times there must have been intersteller killing machines created. Even if faster-than-light travel is not available, that merely extends the time scales. Our own radio waves have been signaling our presence only out to a few dozen lightyears. If we've sent up a flare, it's a question of how long the travel time will be, and whether there are any galactic peacekeepers out there.

[ Parent ]

Interesting... (none / 0) (#54)
by Burrito Supreme Dictator on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 05:59:15 PM EST

"Our own radio waves have been signaling our presence only out to a few dozen lightyears. If we've sent up a flare, it's a question of how long the travel time will be, and whether there are any galactic peacekeepers out there."

If intelligent life is so prevalent that someone's construction of self-replicating interstellar death bots is inevitable, then surely for each civilization anomalously crazed enough to build these death bots (after managing to survive the spectre of self-destruction on their homeworld, and becoming advanced enough to build the bots themselves), there must be at least ten or so other civilizations with enough technology and foresight to send out self-replicating police bots to counter the threat.

[ Parent ]

Common Theme (none / 0) (#77)
by Matrix on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 09:14:16 AM EST

I can think of three or four books or series that I've read in the past year that use this theme somehow, although I can't remember any titles at present. Its a common theme in some form or another. From alien races that consume every kind of resource in a solar system to killer machines that destroy all life and then use nanotech to consume the resources of the solar system and replicate to wierd high tech devices or races that just destroy stuff. Although almost all assume some kind of feasable interstellar travel or hardware that can be hardened to survive and still function after hundreds of years in deep space.

Even Babylon-5 and Star Trek have used this theme to some degree or another. (B5 more than ST, though) As I said, its very popular.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Along those lines... (3.25 / 4) (#2)
by dze27 on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:42:06 PM EST

You might want to check out Why the Future Doesn't Need Us by Bill Joy which addresses the issue of self-destruction among other things. A very thought-provoking read.

"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey


Food for thought. (4.45 / 11) (#3)
by spaceghoti on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:42:28 PM EST

I believe Carl Sagan referred to this as our "technological adolence." In other words, our technological capabilities have outstripped our moral and ethical capabilities, providing us with the opportunity to destroy ourselves before we really learn how to control ourselves.

I'm fond of saying that we are a child race. We know a lot of neat tricks, but we can't agree on much of anything. We're still squabbling over toys and land when we could accomplish so much more by simply cooperating. We balance on a razor's edge, teetering on the brink of an explosive leap into a new era, or just a big explosion. I know I'm not the first to suggest such a thing, but it makes an awful lot of sense to me.

Omega Technology isn't a stupid idea. It's frighteningly plausible in our world. I don't know that this is why we haven't heard from any possible alien civilisations, but I accept it as one possibility.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

Sorry, elitist (2.55 / 9) (#12)
by weirdling on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:26:51 PM EST

If the vast majority of adults are behaving in a given fashion, how is this behavior not adult? This is a big problem I have with people referring to 'technological adolescence' and 'lacking morality to manage technology'. At what point in history did man have the morality to manage his technology? Trick question; you have to define the morality first. In other words, if you define morality as null, the current man has adequate morality to manage his technology. If you define it as 'all babies fed', then, manifestly, man has never had enough morality, although I'd argue that has more to do with the impossibility of the task. Of course, head back in time far enough, and man had no real technology to manage, but I'd submit that, by modern standards of morality, anyway, they still failed, using clubs to beat each other up ad nauseum.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
"Adult" behavior (4.44 / 9) (#15)
by spaceghoti on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:00:29 PM EST

Ignoring the obvious obscenity in this statement, let's consider what we consider to be "adult." So far as the world around me seems to think, maturity is defined when you can stop thinking exclusively about yourself and take other people into consideration. The willingness to share your toys, to let someone else have your seat, to be quiet when people are trying to listen to something, etc.

So let's look at modern society under that touchstone of maturity. "That's my spyplane! Give it back!" Or, "You can't tell us how to treat [insert ethnic subgroup here]. We're a sovereign nation, and we can govern ourselves!" Last but not least, my favorite: "If you don't appease me, I'm going to bomb you into (possibly radioactive) dust."

Combine these modern attitudes with massive growth in technology, and I get an image of a kid with a shiny new toy screaming that it's his and you can't have it. Make that toy a new way of manipulating genetics, or a new way to crack/scramble/invade computer systems or even just a new way to kill people, and I think you've got a pretty good "morality vs capability" issue. Consider the Taliban with genetic manipulation, or even just the Bomb.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
Ok, what I was saying (2.00 / 6) (#36)
by weirdling on Wed May 30, 2001 at 01:26:23 PM EST

Essentially, you have externally defined the term 'adult' according to a set of morals which are not apparent in humanity. I would posit that they have never been apparent and never will be. Such behavior out of homo sapiens is a pipe dream. The reason is the fundamental nature of the human: he is a product of evolution, hence driven to compete. As such, owning is a way of measuring status that one competes with. In modern civilization, we tend to emphasize cooperation as well, as often it is countries who are competing against one another.
Competition is good. It produces the new ideas. It drives the capitalistic markets. It creates a strong race. While at this point in time, nothing challenges homo sapiens, at some point in the future, something might, and a weak race would be a bad thing. Some of that vicious, adavistic behavior must still be extent to deal with the fact that, if nothing else, a genetic fault could produce a person who was not so 'adult', and then where would we be?
I guess I do not believe your version of adulthood to be all that desirable, either. It sounds good on paper, but in the real world, it is a good way to get eaten alive.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
You were saying? (4.75 / 4) (#58)
by Wah on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 10:53:07 PM EST

Essentially, you have externally defined the term 'adult' according to a set of morals which are not apparent in humanity.

(jumping in here) You have to define it externally, and I've seen lots of examples of "adult" behaviour, so it is quite obviously apparent in humanity.

The reason is the fundamental nature of the human: he is a product of evolution, hence driven to compete.

That's a good one. Umm, quick question, how many people in the audience have ever had a conscious thought about evolving? I think you have a weird concept of evolution. Sure competition is part of it, but random mutation and external competition (running away from a lion) are also important. Now, I'm no evolutionary scientist, but come on, you can't be an asshole just becuase you think it will help you evolve. This process takes 1000X longer than you'll be around to see it.

While at this point in time, nothing challenges homo sapiens, at some point in the future, something might, and a weak race would be a bad thing.

You'd have to define weak here. In light of this story, a weak race would be one that doesn't have enough wisdom to realize that continually marginalizing 50% of its population is a good way to convince someone that it all should go. Perhaps realizing that the pressures of constant cut-throat competition can force the hand of someone who would otherwise make a rational decision (and not doom the planet to thousands of years of brightly glowing snow). Combine this with the "strength" to carry through on such wisdom, and that might be precisely what saves us.

It sounds good on paper, but in the real world, it is a good way to get eaten alive.

That's interesting, because I've found that acting like an adult in modern society is a grand way to get exactly what you want.
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP
[ Parent ]

Aha, now I see (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by Steeltoe on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 02:59:53 PM EST

Since we're just a result of our evolution we should never have invented song, music, dance, art, painting, sculpturing, poetry and fiction. Those are just a diversion from our productive lives, without any REAL value but passing time.

My friend. Do you think we would ever do all these unuseful things if all that mattered was competition, survival and breeding? Why would I help anybody outside my family if genes were everything that mattered, especially in highly populated cities? Okay, so sure, the benefits of cooperation has molded society as it is today and made breeding more diffuse. But your belief in that evolution is all that we are is extremely limiting. Just reread what you wrote to see how many limitations you put on man and what he can do.

When people talk about maturity in civilizations, you don't compare it to an individuals maturity. Since a society should always have people from all ages, that is a bit meaningless. Besides, a society is much different than a single individual. Instead, people refer to man as a "children race" because they believe we still have much to strive for and should not rest on our laurels! And they don't mean technological advancements. We can advance science as much as we like, but we'll eventually just end up in self-destruction. (Hence this article)

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
Why can't you be more like the Martians? (2.00 / 2) (#57)
by Woundweavr on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 02:06:23 PM EST

Saying mankind is a child race, or we lack morality is silly. It could be true. It could be false. However, it's the equivalent of looking at an image of some vague and unfamiliar object with no backround or scale and calling it small. It is not as if mankind has other sentient species (sorry dolphins) to compare itself to. For all we know, mankind is the be all and end all of moralty, with other species acting like barbarians. Morality is vague, subjective and ultimately unknowable. There is no referee or judge giving us points. Humanity must judge itself by its own standards and not assume that we are some kind of moral weaklings as a practice in self-indulgent humility.

[ Parent ]
However we must (none / 0) (#69)
by Steeltoe on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 03:04:43 PM EST

If you never aim, you'll never hit anything. So we basically have to aim for higher goals to reach them, unless we enjoy chaos, turmoil and aimless development.

Actually, some humility would be a good start on the road.

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
AIM (none / 0) (#80)
by Woundweavr on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 05:40:01 PM EST

Claiming we are a child race does little to further ambition to create a more "mature" race. All it does is make the speaker feel intelectual and wise.

The fact is that maturation is not a straight line. It isn't a line at all in fact. It has multiple dimensions and subtlies and, most important, judgement calls. Perhaps maturity is something like a production curve. We can only go so far in one direction without sacrificing other aspects of 'maturity'. Add to that the fact we are running blind. We exist in a void with only our own perceptions and memories to go by.

For instance, if you or I lived to 92 years, we'd be considered old. However, trees are just hitting their stride at 92 more often than not. Dogs are long gone. Mountains are almost inconceivable older. And atoms are another order of magnitude or twenty older than that.

We are the ones called childish. If we are a child race, our perceptions are immature, and childish. Thus proposing a child race, with no other 'adult' or 'child' races to compare itself to could tell if it was a child race is doubtful at best.

It may be we are a child race, but we cannot say.

[ Parent ]

attention Kaki Nix Sain (2.33 / 3) (#59)
by mikpos on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 12:54:16 PM EST

Please FOAD. Your moderation is garbage.

Thank you.

[ Parent ]

A race against time (3.66 / 9) (#5)
by DesiredUsername on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:47:11 PM EST

Actually, let's call something that can destroy an entire planet Omega Zero. We just need to make sure the time when we populate an additional planet precedes the time of Omega Zero. Let Omega One be a technology that can destroy a solar system--we have to populate a second solar system before then. Omega Two is, oh, a 50 parsec region (or a galaxy, or whatever).

Play 囲碁
Omega 1 (3.50 / 2) (#6)
by SEWilco on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:50:34 PM EST

One planet-killing technology was described 30 years ago. Look up "mass driver drive". It's a way to move an asteroid. A single drive unit would be rather heavy, although one could be moved into orbit in pieces. At present there are already several countries which can launch large devices, and launch space can be purchased by anyone [who can disguise what they're really doing].

Fortunately, it would take decades to launch an attack. By then the rest of the planet might have arranged for our only known asteroidal defense system: having our own movable asteroids ready to use to play cosmic billiards.

But it still requires nation-level resources (none / 0) (#9)
by Paul Johnson on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:00:25 PM EST

But such activity requires an advanced space launch capability. Building nuclear bombs would be easier.

The point about the Omega Technology is that a small group will be able to do it undetected using resources available to anyone.

Think of Aum Shinriko. They came close to gassing hundreds of people. Now imagine that the Omega Technology is discovered. The next Aum Shinriko could aim for world destruction and succeed.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Ah, but... (none / 0) (#62)
by darthaggie on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 09:13:47 AM EST

But such activity requires an advanced space launch capability.

True enough. But access can be purchased.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Geh (4.11 / 9) (#8)
by trhurler on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:55:07 PM EST

For all intents and purposes, this has been possible for at least ten or twenty years. The world? No. All the people on and in it? Sure, if you've got money, time, and intelligence. Lots of people and more organizations have all three.

Motivation, though. That's the key. In order to be practical for use, this has to be something you can just go out and buy, because anyone who has to go to any real effort to build it will never use it. Consider the two motives for suicide and their related external symptoms and you'll see what I'm getting at.

The first one, everyone knows. You feel helpless, hopeless, and really depressed, and so you talk about killing yourself, or hint about it, or leave clues that you might do it, hoping that someone will help you. If nobody does, maybe you actually get around to trying, and if you try, maybe you succeed. This is the one the medical community tries to pretend covers all the cases.

The second is far less common, because most people almost instinctively avoid it. You simply find that you don't care anymore. You could go on living, but the effort would be wasted. With this, there's probably no hinting around, there's certainly no depression, but there's not much else, either. Not boredom so much as the conviction that boredom is all there is or can be in your life.

Neither one of those is conducive to making any real effort. The only other category of people who might kill themselves over such a thing are religious wackos. Yet another reason we should (by voluntary means) work to put an end to religion and mysticism in general.

The thing about the technology you're talking about is that if it ever became common, the other technologies that existed with it would be crucial in determining its impact. If it just wipes out a planet, then what are the odds we'll be limited to that planet? If it can conceivably be defended against, what are the odds there will be no defense? (And yes, most things can conceivably be defended against.) And so on.

In short, the odds are that the perfect killing machine will not be created and used by the people who would be killed. One of the prerequisites of our warlike societies has always been "something to gain." That's most of why the western world hasn't been out on major offensive landgrabs; we could beat the snot out of the rest of the world, but what would we gain, and at what cost? (It'd be nice to ascribe better motives to ourselves, and if we fought such wars, people would do so, but that wouldn't make them true.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

What about the fruitcakes? (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by Tatarigami on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:15:56 PM EST

Last week, in my city, a man killed his two-year old cousin because the devil told him to. He wasn't obviously crazy, he was an otherwise-average guy who had his first ever schizophrenic episode. Medical experts consulted by the newspapers agree that no-one could have seen the episode coming because the condition came upon him as an adult and he had a supportive environment which made it possible to deal with the stress that could have triggered previous episodes.

He might be certifiably sane for the rest of his life and never have another episode, but the damage is already done. I'm glad he didn't have his finger on a Big Red Button at the time.

[ Parent ]
That's my point. (none / 0) (#19)
by trhurler on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:25:00 PM EST

Unless he can buy the big red button at Wal-Mart, he's not going to have one. He won't want it while he's sane, and sudden bouts of mental illness are not the sort of thing that often lead to successful covert research and development efforts of any magnitude - not to mention the fact that if it is a sudden episode, it'll probably end before you have a button to push. This sort of thing requires a cold, calculating, premeditated decision and a lot of hard work and expenditure, all carefully managed to stay out of the spotlight. And it requires you to be willing to die senselessly. The two don't combine well.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Who needs R&D? (none / 0) (#22)
by Paul Johnson on Tue May 29, 2001 at 06:17:37 PM EST

sudden bouts of mental illness are not the sort of thing that often lead to successful covert research and development efforts of any magnitude

Who said anything about needing R&D? Once the Omega Technology is discovered the R&D has basically been done. All that is needed is for someone to assemble the device.

Think Aum Shinriko.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Aum Shinriko (none / 0) (#23)
by trhurler on Tue May 29, 2001 at 06:25:36 PM EST

Notice that their attacks did little real damage. Why? Because just knowing that this gas and that liquid are highly toxic does not give you a weapon. Successful weaponization of most technologies is an art and science unto itself, which typically proceeds by trial and error and careful measurements and lots of planning and peer review. Barring some of that on grounds that this must be covert, you need even more money, even more time, and even more care. Even if you studied the lessons of history, such as the pioneering 1940s Japanese work on biological weapons, you'd still need lots more work to duplicate it, and that program was far from optimal by today's standards.

If this "Omega technology" is just "mix these things together and the world ends" then yes, but the odds of that being the case seem quite slim; essentially every technology we've found has increasing customization and support requirements in proportion to the leverage it gives you in whatever you're trying to achieve.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
K-Mart Blue Light Special: The Big Red Button (none / 0) (#33)
by error 404 on Wed May 30, 2001 at 11:11:51 AM EST

I think that was the point of the article: the inevitable advance of technology means that eventualy The Big Red Button will be available at K-Mart.

I disagree. The advance of technology, and the spread of technology once developed, is not entirely inevitable. The uncontrolled developement of technology is an unusual feature of the current version of our culture. And the spread is far from universal and uncontrolled. We've had nukes for over half a century. They aren't fundimentaly complicated - I found enough information (except for the critical mass) to build one in an encyclopedia in my high school library back in the '70s. And yet, nobody on my block owns one. We don't even have a company nuke, and we have lots and lots of techno stuff here.

But the real limiting factor preventing the Omega Device from being tomorrow's Flashing Blue Light Special is economic. Computers have gotten cheap because lots of people buy them. And then buy another one next year. I'm going to echo an old mistake and suggest that the worldwide market for Omega Devices is under 20. Destroying all life on the planet just isn't something everybody and his brother's dog is going to do for fun and profit.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

"People are only briefly crazy" -- NOT (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by Mr.Surly on Wed May 30, 2001 at 02:10:20 PM EST

Here's the key points I believe the author was trying to make:

1) Eventually world-destructive technology will be relatively easy to obtain by the average person (singular). Whether this will actually occur is moot.

2) Given #1, it's obvious that the odds are great that someone will "push the button."

The argument that "people will only have brief psychotic episodes, so they won't have time to get a button to push," is ridiculous, when you consider extreme religious/political fanatics that believe they are doing "what's best." These people can and do put the effort and time into building destructive devices. Look at Tim McVeigh. He (someone, anyway) researched and built a very powerful explosive device using easily-obtainable materials (diesel fuel and fertilizer). I think what the author is trying to say is that sometime in the (distant?) future, another Tim McVeigh type is going to get his hands on something that can indeed destroy the planet (or "life as we know it," to coin a phrase).

Personally, I think that almost immediately after this sort of technology is commonly available, the world will end. To trust that 6+ billion people will "do the right thing" is naive.

[ Parent ]
Terrorists (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by sigwinch on Thu May 31, 2001 at 10:43:03 PM EST

Look at Tim McVeigh. He (someone, anyway) researched and built a very powerful explosive device using easily-obtainable materials (diesel fuel and fertilizer). I think what the author is trying to say is that sometime in the (distant?) future, another Tim McVeigh type is going to get his hands on something that can indeed destroy the planet (or "life as we know it," to coin a phrase).
McVeigh is the classic incompetent terrorist: he only managed to deliver one blow, the blow only destroyed half its target, and afterwards he practically wore a giant blinking sign that said "I did something terrible! Arrest me!"

A carefully planned campaign with the same cost and personal risk could have killed vast numbers of government employees. He could have done things that were much more effective, like putting low-level arsenic injectors with timers on the water supplies of hundreds of federal buildings. Even with a single tanker truck full of ANFO explosive, he could've blown up a fission reactor upwind of D.C. He could've mailed the Feds envelopes with bubonic fleas in them.

He could have done so many hideous things, but he didn't. The same madness that made him do anything at all prevented him from doing something truly horrible. I think this effect would also apply to Omega Technologies like nanotech. A nanotech terrorist would make replicating bots that try to convert the entire Earth into bots. That sounds horrible, but you can just nuke out the affected regions. What would be truly bad, and I don't think a terrorist could conceive of, would be slow-spreading nanobots that replicate minimally for 15 years, then kill all the mitochondria they can find. That would be a real wrath of god type problem. In general, unless you can find some sort of instant planet killer (like the molecular disintegration device in Ender's Game, stupidity of terrorists and countermeasures will minimize the effects of the technology.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Religion as anti-religion (4.00 / 3) (#50)
by sigwinch on Thu May 31, 2001 at 11:22:12 PM EST

The only other category of people who might kill themselves over such a thing are religious wackos. Yet another reason we should (by voluntary means) work to put an end to religion and mysticism in general.
"I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife." -- Dogbert

A world full of non-mystical physical science types would have no defense against the sideways arguments of religion. It is only by constantly rubbing up against religion that you learn how basically foolish it is. Remember the case of Uri Geller, mentalist, clairvoyant, and spoon-bender extraordinaire: The distinguished physicist bought it hook, line, and sinker. The professional illusionist ripped him a new asshole. (Ripped several new assholes, actually. Then rubbed in Tabasco sauce.) Paradoxically, the best defense against televangilists may be a continuous supply of televangilists.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Yea, I saw that episode of the Outer Limits too... (3.50 / 6) (#11)
by Electric Angst on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:20:48 PM EST

This is, simply put, a load of crap. You're attempting to extrapolate the entire future of our species based on a viewpoint of technological advancement with a two-hundred year sample (at best) and some heavily interprited history. Extending this to alien sentience displays a hubris that I can barely begin to contemplate. (After all, you don't see dolphins developing bombs...)

This is nothing more than sci-fi masturbation, and I hope to see it fall off the queue in short order.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
"heavily interprited history"? (none / 0) (#27)
by DesiredUsername on Tue May 29, 2001 at 09:29:38 PM EST

Are you saying that maybe the ancient Greeks (Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Sumerians) weren't violent?

"Extending this to alien sentience displays a hubris that I can barely begin to contemplate. (After all, you don't see dolphins developing bombs...)"

Neither have I seen convincing proof that they are more intelligent than dogs. But back to your main point: why is it "hubris" to conclude that a species adept at dominating the environment (that's what technology is, after all, which also lets out dolphins) wouldn't also be adept at dominating life forms (which are also in the environment) including each other?

Yeah, I saw "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" too (and I read ET)...but the "aliens are peaceful, mankind is barbaric" ideology is, if anything, more hubristic--but in the opposite direction.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
It's not peace vs. violence I was talking about... (none / 0) (#29)
by Electric Angst on Wed May 30, 2001 at 02:03:18 AM EST

I'm not saying that the Greeks and Romans are less violent, I'm just saying that technology has NOT developed in the kind of exponential pace of advancement that tech-heads are so fond of saying it has. All you need to do is look up Byzantium to check that fact.

Also, I'm certainly not trying to speculate on the nature of any alien sentience, but to assume that their technological advancements would happen in any similar manner to ours is the hubris that I deplore. (As in, assuming the way our technology has advanced in the last two hundred years is the only way it could advance...)


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Quite inevitable (4.00 / 6) (#14)
by weirdling on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:33:00 PM EST

This has been a problem for some time. People outlaw all sorts of things because they're afraid of them. With the simple availability of weapons of mass destruction, sooner or later, someone will mass-destruct. That's a given.
However, so the theory goes, it takes a certain mix of factors in an intelligent being such that it makes it to the diaspora before it creates something that can destroy the creche: doomsday mark one takes out a neighborhood, but since there are multiple neighborhoods, this isn't a problem. Domsday mark two takes out a continent, but there are multiples of that, too, so no problem. Now, if we don't get off this planet in the near future, we are very near to the cheap, easily made doomsday mark three that can sterilize the world. Of course, we need to get to some other system before doomsday mark four...
Whether other races failed to make the diaspora before self-destruction is an interesting thought that might explain the lack of intelligent beings out there...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
nanotech (none / 0) (#16)
by John Milton on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:11:06 PM EST

Self-replicating nanomachines which spread and disassemble everything they touch. That would kill everyone.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


yeah, ok. (none / 0) (#18)
by nickco on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:21:41 PM EST

including themselves, therefore rendering them harmless.

[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#21)
by John Milton on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:36:30 PM EST

They would recognise each other. They'd also have something close to an exponential rate of growth.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
So? (none / 0) (#53)
by Burrito Supreme Dictator on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 05:48:25 PM EST

If they recognize themselves, then spray on Goo-B-GonTM, some synthetic or transmitted signal to trick the molecular little bastards into thinking that you (and all matter on your planet) are allready one of "them".

[ Parent ]
Already Invented (none / 0) (#55)
by mcherm on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:29:12 PM EST

Sorry, the Infinitely Reproducing Nanomachine (Exponential growth curve) [with optional non-self-destructive mode] has ALREADY BEEN INVENTED AND DEPLOYED.

It's called a bacterium.

Of course, they're limited by the fact that they require some sort of fuel source (though the current models are surprisingly good at using a wide variety of different possible sources), and by the fact that the materials they are capable of disassembling, while actually extremely extensive, is still limited (eg: can't disassemble crystalized metals).

Seems to me that any nanomachines that WE invent would have to suffer from the same limitations. What makes you think that nanomachines we invent would be any MORE effective than bacteria (and their ilk)?

-- Michael Chermside

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

Don't underestimate those limitations (none / 0) (#56)
by roystgnr on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 11:57:10 PM EST

You don't see any animals with rolling wheels instead of legs, do you? Steel internal combustion engines instead of chemical metabolisms? Turbines instead of flapping wings? Steel teeth/armor? Do you think this is because there is no evolutionary advantage to being able to move at hundreds of miles an hour, fly across oceans, and break your prey's shells or your predator's teeth?

No - it's because there is a gulf which prevents biologically evolved systems from taking advantage of materials and processes which designed systems can use. Gradual evolution from down to flight feathers is amazing enough; gradual evolution from a digestive tract to a rotary engine is impossible. Mark my words, an analogous situation will be true on the nanoscale as well. Intelligently designed nanobots will be able to make use of chemicals and designs that bacteria cannot. Even genetic algorithms can explore areas of design space that would be impossible for real genetics, because the algorithms can be programmed to jump arbitrarily large "gaps" without worrying about whether the intervening designs are viable or not.

"Gray Goo" is a fantastic scenario, true. I just don't think the energy density of the biosphere is high enough to make exponential reproduction on a large scale possible, and I think we can deal with a slow enough O(n^2). If it does turn out that, say, free aluminum gives nanites the ability to outcompete any living bacteria, that still means the nanites have to spend a lot of time sucking up solar power or chewing through forests to liberate that aluminum from ore.

[ Parent ]

You make some good points (none / 0) (#60)
by mcherm on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 09:03:35 AM EST

You make some good points. Let me comment on a few:

You don't see any animals with rolling wheels instead of legs, do you?
Nope. But a simple white-tailed deer can outdistance nearly any wheeled vehicle when traveling across rutted, tree-filled forests. Traveling on paved roads is a different story -- but they didn't exist long enough for animals to evolve for them.

Steel internal combustion engines instead of chemical metabolisms? Turbines instead of flapping wings?
Nope. But where would you get fuel with the kind of energy density needed to power these kinds of systems?

...it's because there is a gulf which prevents biologically evolved systems from taking advantage of materials and processes which designed systems can use.
Very, very true. Design is the one thing that evolution lacks, and it's quite powerful.

Mark my words, an analogous situation will be true on the nanoscale as well. Intelligently designed nanobots will be able to make use of chemicals and designs that bacteria cannot.
In fact, I'd say that the effects of careful design for a particular task will be, if anything, STRONGER on the nano scale.

"Gray Goo" is a fantastic scenario, true. I just don't think the energy density of the biosphere is high enough to make exponential reproduction on a large scale possible.
Agreed. Design will make nanomachines that are better at a PARTICULAR TASK than naturally occurring microorganisms, but when asked to perform general tasks like surviving and growing in an energy-poor, dangerous, and varried environment, can hardly be expected to do much better than the evolved stuff. Surviving (and succeeding) in a PARTICULAR environment is another story however.

-- Michael Chermside

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

gray goo is HARD but we work in vacuum anyway... (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by sayke on Tue May 29, 2001 at 08:55:35 PM EST

just in case. the idea being that if none of our badass nanomachines can survive outside a vacuum, we don't have to worry about them getting out and eating everything. gray goo has been a concern for ages - hell, drexler wrote about problems like that in the 1st ed. of "engines of creation".

smart people have been thinking about this for a long time, man. check out the papers here for some background - but especially relevent is this paper by robert freitas which gives The Lowdown on the gray goo problem.


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

In the HHGTTG (3.83 / 6) (#20)
by tiamat on Tue May 29, 2001 at 05:34:04 PM EST

The author describes a bomb designed to link the core of every sun to every other sun, thus making a blast that would obliterate everything. Of course, the computer that designed it figured out that there would never be a situtation when using the bomb would have a better effect than not using it, so the computer designed it so it would fail. "No amount of artificial intelligence will make up for human stupidity." Maybe not. We can hope.


Doomsday Device (3.37 / 8) (#24)
by djabji on Tue May 29, 2001 at 06:28:45 PM EST

Remember that if you build a doomsday device, you have to tell the world.

The whole point of a doomsday device is to tell the world.

You have to tell the world!

A basic philisophical concept (3.66 / 9) (#25)
by DranoK on Tue May 29, 2001 at 07:31:18 PM EST

That being that intelligence is by nature self-destructive. This philosphy has its roots deep in nihilism and to some extent Budhism. Oh yeah, time for my customary insult: Fuck the people who are calling the author arrogant; true hubris lies in those who would deny the problems of thought.

The philosophy starts simple. A being without intelligence (and to define intelligence here as to what I use it is the ability and desire [note desire] to better oneself through tools. Thus, no, dolphins are not intelligent. Yeah, I know you're gonna argue with me, but I need to define intelligence to mean something so that's what I pick. It's just a conceptual definition people, get over it if you disagree with my definition.) A being without intelligence exists without meaning. Survival instict is a driving force without awareness or thought, but more importantly (and thus the reason dolphin's are not intelligent) without the ability or desire to alter the world around them. This is an important issue and certainly explains why non-intelligent creatures are vastly superior to intelligent ones. Intelligence is, IMHO, a hideous evolutionary mistake.

Without intelligence, without the desire or ability to alter the world, it is impossible to purposefully destroy yourself. Sure you can go extinct, but never because a disgruntled postal bunny decided to build a bomb.

Now take intelligent creatures. First thing that happens is some kind of analyzation. Some kind of interpretation. Something clicks. Attribute it to God or a monolith or whatever the fuck you want, sometime the species will figure out the concept of downhill. Not just instinctively know downhill, but understand the concept. Create a form in the mind. Eventually define the concept, and be able to communicate this concept with others. Thus the first abstraction is added to reality. The rock no longer exists rolling down the hill; forever after this abstraction has been created only the concept exists. Over thousands of years these abstractions breed like horny bunnies and create layered abstractions of reflected reality, as we can see in our own society.

A good portion of these abstractions are commonly refered to as morals. You shouldn't kill people. You shouldn't steal. You shouldn't destroy your species. You must understand that none of these morals is real; they are nothing but concepts which have evolved over millenium. A worm crawling over another dead worm has no understanding of the worms death being good or bad; these are abstractions unique to intelligent creatures. We, however, live entirely within abstracted and reflected reality. We attatch meaning to everything. Nothing exists without purpose, nothing is viewed without some kind of analysis. As these meanings are merely the common interpretation of synaptic response developed thru evolution, it is arrogant to believe such notions could in any way be real.

And here is the root of the problem. Once technology, magic, whatever exist with the *power* to destroy the world, it is *innevitable* that these devises/powers will eventually *be used* to destroy the world. This is very simple to understand: any mortal creature with intelligence must comply to evolutionary concepts. You can't possibly argue about some silicon-based entity never evolving but still intelligent as intelligence as I defined it stands completely in the hallway of interpretation. No interpretation can exist without some kind of interpretation before it, nor without the interaction with other interpretations. This is commonly refered to as culture. Simple thing is, these very ideas and concepts evolve over time. Which necesitates the need to be taught about the reflections of reality we believe in.

A newborn child does not understand that stealing is wrong until it is taught to him.

Now we get to the meat within the heart: Once something exists with the power to destroy the world, it is only the reflected abstractions we call morals which can possibly hope to stop the action. And for the most part, it does. People have morals, and a fundamental moral is that xenocide is wrong.

Until someone is born without the ability thru evolutionary or environmental reasons who does not understand the abstractions we live in. Someone whose mind does not understand the need to take reflected reality as reality.

As soon as one person, or a group, or whatever, exist in defiance of majorital abstraction morals, the difference between right and wrong simply becomes an idiotic concept built over the years by interpretations and abstractions. Such a person, or group, needs only the desire.

And you say its fruitless to claim other species might be different? How so? If a species will survive for an infinite amount of time every possible permutaiton of interpreted realities will eventually be played out. If every permutation of reality is created, then certainly the 'let's-kill-the-world' perception will be created. And thus doomsday.

Oh yeah, but species will die out eventually and not exist infinitely. Jesus, if you argue this point you will have agreed with mine.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



This is so wrong it made my head hurt. (3.71 / 7) (#30)
by Electric Angst on Wed May 30, 2001 at 02:44:56 AM EST

Let's see, you say that your highly debatable definition of intelligence is just a conceptual one and that we souldn't argue with it. You then use that definition as the very foundation of your argument. Do you think we're stupid?

Now the very fact that you don't seem to understand the difference between "intelligence" and "sentience" plays heavily against you in your "but I have philosophical backing for this bullshit, I swear!" There are plenty of lower forms of primates who fit your definition of "intelligent" (as they use tools to enhance their ability to survive in their enviornment) and yet they don't fit into this "conquer the world and then destroy it" ideal with which you seem fascinated.

Basically, you seem to be attempting to take certain properties (thought, intelligence, desire) and making a definition for them that would fit only human beings, and then attempting to take some known human problems and attributing them as inherent of those properties. Fortunantly, you're wrong, and unfortunantly for me, I had to be the one insulted by it enough to rebutt your drivil.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
I've read a lot of what you write Electric Angst (1.25 / 4) (#35)
by DranoK on Wed May 30, 2001 at 01:24:40 PM EST

and you are one of the most foolish people alive. You seem to have discovered my entire point in your response, VALIDATED IT, then claim it has no meaning?

Fuck dude, how pathetically stupid do you have to be to NOT see my point when you confirm it with each word you write???

The point IS EXACTLY THAT THE NOTION OF FUCKING INTELLIGENCE IS A CONCEPT AND NOT REALITY AND THUS DEBATABLE AND NOT SOLID!

Jesus fucking christ I spend a long time writing that to have a comment as dumb as this one attatched to it, one which states the obvious and *still* misses the point.

Let me explain it as I would to a child:

As the entire concept and notion of intelligence lies completely within the eyes of the beholder, i.e., is not a constant but abstracted, not real, and reflected, thus you can define intelligence to be precisely whatever the fuck you want it to be, and thus can use it to prove any concept in broad philosophical terms. Because of this ability to define we can *prove* that all inteligent beings will eradicate themself. Why? Because there is no 'true' definition of intelligence; the word must be defined and then used as a basis for argument.

I don't know how to explain it otherwise. If you still don't understand, methinks you should be shot.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
No, I didn't validate your point... (2.50 / 6) (#37)
by Electric Angst on Wed May 30, 2001 at 02:09:44 PM EST

I simply repeated the point you were trying to make in more simplified form, to point out to everyone who read it exactly how mind-blowingly stupid it is.

Intelligence is not in the eye of the beholder. It is a property that, while we can't pin an exact definition on due to our limited understanding of the universe, certainly has a definition and certain properties, which can generally be recognized if not exactly defined by people. (Much like the property of Quality.)

Your attempt to pull a definition of intelligence out of your ass as some type of masturbatory exercise while trying simultaniously to tack on self-destruction as a inherent quality of that property, was an abusive and very harmful route to take (Imagine if a suicidal teenager was simply considered to be that way because of being an intelligent creature, instead of much more obvious causes such as social rejection or abusive home life. Lives could actually be lost that way.)

Oh, and trust me, DranoK, I've read your stuff too, and the primary effect its had on me it to make me proud of any insult you throw my way. After all, when you're as far off the mark as you seem to be, your insults could only mean that I'm closer than I thought.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Dude (1.50 / 4) (#39)
by DranoK on Wed May 30, 2001 at 03:38:24 PM EST

are you honestly that dumb? I thought we were just having fun, I enjoy flaming, but if you actually believe what you right you're positively insane.

You think a CONCEPT like INTELLIGENCE is NOT in the eye of the beholder? WHO then defines it? How can it possibly have a definition? How can any definition proven to be correct?

If I decided intelligence was based on longevity of survival, sharks would be a multitude of intelligence higher than humans. How can you negate this definition? Ah, with your own silly definition? But how can you claim your pathetic little definition is better than mine? Oh, because it makes more sense?

Jesus...I do hope you're just pulling my chain here and silently laughing at me for believing you mean what you say. Please tell me your world view is some kind of sick joke -- I never thought it possible someone could be so naive as to assume concepts can be defined, that 'intelligence' has some kind of global meaning.

And, perish the thought, but if you DO mean what you say, I pity those who know you and care for you, for your mind is more deserving of a worm's body.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
I hate arguing with high schoolers. (2.42 / 7) (#40)
by Electric Angst on Wed May 30, 2001 at 04:25:58 PM EST

You think a CONCEPT like INTELLIGENCE is NOT in the eye of the beholder?

Ding! You hit the nail right on the head there, mister.

WHO then defines it? How can it possibly have a definition? How can any definition proven to be correct?

Well, since you are so willing to throw a definition onto intelligence, it would seem you're in opposition to the very point you're trying to argue, dumbass.

I'm saying that intelligence is not a subjective concept, while you keep trying to say that it is. If it were subjective, you could go on about how ceiling fans, computer programs, and various other inanimate objects have "intelligence" and no one would be able to truely critique your judgement. That isn't the case, so your entire argument falls to your ankles like a drunk cheerleader's panties.

Go to your school's library (If its closed for summer, try your municipalities') and check out some books on philosophy, you might learn a thing or two about what you're talking about. (While you're at it, check out some books on composition, too, your poetry was just too painful. -Except the Unix one, that was kinda cool.-)


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Ah, finally we get to read what you REALLY think (1.66 / 6) (#41)
by DranoK on Wed May 30, 2001 at 04:54:02 PM EST

I love flame. Flame elicits such profoundly honest responses. I can see now that you're angry. Good. I can see now that you're annoyed. Good. You are now prepared to reply to this with some wonderful joyous flame I can laugh at all night with my boyfriend.

You do nothing to argue your pitiful little concept that intelligence is not subjective. Which is fine, you can think whatever you like; but then you go on to attempt to discredit my own reasonings in the subjective nature of things. *knuckles cracking* This oughta be fun...

Now you go on to suggest I know nothing of philosophy (ooh big mistake there mister if you've ever read some of my *published* articles [which by necessity are written in a far kinder tone than I take on K5, but still deal greatly with philosophy] you'd understand your own falicy here) and that basically gives me open season to that rotting slab of meat in your head you call a brain.

Let's begin. You seem to argue your entire point from some kind of neo-Platoism platform; you have misguidedly applied his notions of pure forms into notions of pure concepts. You seem to think there is some kind of definitive concept of what intelligence is that we simply need to find. Oh how Star Trek of you; everything in the Universe is the same, eh? All peoples have the same basic morals, the same basic Truths? Well, from a follower of Plato's point of view, you could argue in this vein for quite some time. I, however, find Plato to be an ignorant fool, his ideas justified simply because of his excessively old age.

So, let's go to some more current philosophies, and by current I mean still being refined in contemporary improvements, not the time the philosophies were actually stumbled upon (some of which are quite ancient). Two in particular: Nihilism and Buddhism. Oh yes, in your pathetic little idiotic world you're gonna call Buddhism a religion, not a philosophy. *sigh* Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

Nihilism suggests that nothing exists. Oooh, now you're going to go off about how stupid that notion is. Tell me then, if its so stupid why is it still very much alive today? Films such as The Matrix, Dark City, etc., can all be shown to have very nihilistic properties. Enough of that for now, lets view another contemporary philosophy: Buddhism. One point of this philosophy is that everything is an illusion. Again, several modern examples of art can be shown to demonstrate the current vitality of this train of thought.

I won't insult you by pointing out the obvious now...oh, what am I saying -- of course I'll insult you. It is my goal, you realize. You are simply too easy to insult. But I wander...

Both nihilism and Buddhism have the notion that the abstractions we consider real are in reality not real. This facet of contemporary philosophy seems to completely escape you; I fear it is you who needs a refresher course on philosophy. But don't do it in college; I made that mistake. In order to accept my Pres. scholarship, I was required to take one philosophy course a year. Maybe it was that these courses all took place at 6am, or maybe it was just the stupidity of discussion, but you really can't learn anything in these classes. But do check out relevant books from your own High School library (don't molest any of the students while you're there now), possibly starting with 'See Spot Run'. After a few months you might be able to move up to more challenging work by Dr. Suess. Just don't strain yourself; go slowly.

My point here is (sorry I keep getting sidetracked with insults -- it's just too much fun) many contemporary philosophies are quite clear in their rejection of Platistic thought that reflected and abstracted reality (such as the concept of intelligence) can have One True Definition. After all, since this abstracted concept is based in a world of abstracted concepts, layered over thousands of years of human thought, any definition is only relative when viewed in conjunction with the abstractions which it is based on. Thus intelligence is very subjective; change the very nature of societal reality and you change the very nature of intelligence.

But then, I think you merely dozed off halfway through Plato when you first learned philosophy and never bothered to read what other people have thought.

One last point, quite important: Never read my poetry again you motherfucking asshole -- you are far too naive and childlike to offer relevant critique.

Cheers!

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
Well well, it looks like we're in for something... (3.50 / 6) (#42)
by Electric Angst on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:24:32 PM EST

Well, congratulations on getting published. I would even go so far as to say that perhaps we were just mis-reading each other (given that excess flames can typically lead to misunderstandings). Then again, adding this to the knowledge that one prof. at our University got a lame-ass "first-cause" argument for the existance of the Christian God published I might instead take it as the very poor state of philosophical journals in this day and age. Of course, you could very well be lying, as it seems that you haven't brought forth anything that would prove you have any more understanding of philosophy than a 101 class and your incessent pop references (I mean 'The Matrix', oh please!)

Now, calling me a neo-platonist is probably the worst insult you hurl in your entire comment. I'm not claiming that there is some form of static, ideal intelligence. I am saying that intelligence is a property, not mearly a concept, such as the color blue. There can be many types, shades, etc. of blue, and while it is very difficult to define exactly what it is, it is very easy for an individual to know what it is NOT. In the same manner, I can say that the thing you were trying to call the definition of intelligence has no relation to that property.

The example I was trying to use (and if you haven't read this book than I'm pretty sure you are bullshitting) was Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintinence. The method by which he goes about showing the existance of the property of Quality should perhaps use some study, and get you past this adolescent nihilism you seem enamored upon.

Now, if you don't mind, I have a much more interesting and important polotical argument to get back into.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
I do mind (1.00 / 7) (#44)
by DranoK on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:51:17 PM EST

but you don't have to read this or answer it.

I was using movie references because somehow I doubt you've ever read anyone or anything I base my philosophy on. If you have, then great. Just for the record: Ginsberg (too political and asinine but a great sense of laughing at stupidity), Burroughs (who tought me incoherence is a marvleous thing), Keruac (Ah the great Keruac...jizz), Blake (Need I say more), Rimbaud (the most georgous young poet ever to grace our world). Now, I know what you're thinking. Gee, none of these poets have ever given me reason to think the way I do. Of course not! They are merely my inspirations. I assure you my insanity is all my own.

Your pathetic little problem is you are unable to think for yourself. You are unable to spew your own beliefs as you are constantly self-conscious of whether you are 'right' or not. You lack the ability to talk without wondering if others will agree with you. This is why you are pathetic.

You are pathetic because you take a book most HS students are required to read and treat it like gospel. I've read that book, and yes, I think it's full of shit. It's crap. Why? I loved the book. It was wonderful. It made me think. It's crap for the same reason the Bible is crap -- it's caused people to worship it and base their belief system around it. You can't find your own philosophy by reading -- reading merely gives you the tools you need to open your own mind. This is why you are pathetic.

And now just to piss you off, I shall redefine my definition of intelligence to be "that which has three eyes". You are now no longer intelligent.

You never know; I might be a solipsist after all.

Oh, and until enough of my comments get rated so low I lose my 0-rating ability, all comments by you I see will be modded 0. Why? I dunno. To piss you off =)

Cheers!

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
Mod away. I don't fear the mojo! (3.80 / 5) (#45)
by Electric Angst on Wed May 30, 2001 at 07:42:09 PM EST

Okay, kid, you've officially gone over the deep end. Congratulations, you were inspired by the beats. Take a closer look at their writings, particularly their totally illogical white-boy worship of black culture, and perhaps you'll realize that their stuff isn't the be-all, end-all of literature, much less philosophy. In fact, if you're so into Kerouac (nice version of the spelling, by the way) perhaps you've read 'The Scripture of the Golden Eternity'. the idea that while all things are mearly manifestations of the Golden Eternity, the Golden Eternity is, and so as these things are part of it, they exist as well.

Now, onto your pathetic Pirsig bashing. (Or rather, your bashing of my use of him as an example.) So you're saying that I'm wrong for citing another philosophical work while attempting a philosophical argument? Have you ever heard of citing work? (I certainly hope so, since if you haven't that probably means the journal you were published in was 'Seventeen'.)

As for your definition, it seems that you're just so infatuated with attempting to prove the meaninlessness of a meaningful property that you've descended to the point of incoherent nonsense. Then again, I guess we shouldn't expect and form of accurate definition from you (prepare for a low-blow here) given what you've descided to term "poetry".

Sure, I could go on now with other insults and attempts to explain my point to you, but I am feeling secure in the knowledge that no little brat who slept through their "cold, morning" philosophy classes and claims to have been published while only quoting sources from pop literature and film and not understanding the concept of citing other work can do no more harm to me in argument other that getting to to reply yet again and issuing an unfair '0' rating.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Do you read what I write (1.00 / 2) (#46)
by DranoK on Wed May 30, 2001 at 08:13:15 PM EST

Or ignore it?

I don't agree with much ANYONE says, even my idols. Yeah, Kerouac (sorry about the spelling it never was my strong suit) says a lot of things that differ from what I say -- anyone who lets anything they read or anything they hear influence them into a mode of thought or basis of philosophy is a fucking fool. So of course my viewpoints differ.

I'm not basying you personally for citing work. I was using your own example as a reason to explain my spontaneous thesis directed entirely that you which states in essence you can't learn philosophy by reading what others write. Of course you should read, of course you should allude. Jesus, I think I have alluded to around ten different works in our discussion, albeit usually indirectly. But whereas I use them to HELP prove my point, you use them in an attempt to prove your point. I'm not arguing with Pirsig; I'm arguing with you. Don't hide behind those authors you agree with. Try to be fucking original.

"Meaninlessness?" OK, you stooped to knocking my spelling so I had to pay back in kind ;) Anyhow, "Meaninglessness of meaningfull property that you've descended to the point of incoherent nonsense." Wow. I think your eyes might be opening young gwasshoppew. *sigh* And then you ruin it with your next insult.

Why did that ruin it. Because you pathetically attempted to almost appologize for the insult. You have no spine you invertibrate jar of jelly! You argue you bitch you scream you flame! Good! Good! Good! And then you appologize. Had you simply critisized my poetry, insulted me for writing it, tore apart the stupidness which lied within, I would respect you.

But for appologizing for your own hatred I despise you.

I was going to read that last sentence but couldn't find a period and ran out of brain to restructure the entire thing back into a coherent fashion.

This conversation ends as soon as you stop replying. I always get the last word in. No matter how you look at it, I win. At least in my happy little world of competition. =) You see, if you don't reply I made you get too pissed off to bother. And if you do reply, I win because you are unable to step back; oh yes, there is a part of you just as animal as am I, a part of you who needs to reply to everything. And, to your credit, from the 30 posts I modded (didn't bother going to next page) you do seem to reply to every post someone makes.

Which is why you cannot possibly destroy my smirk. Ah, the beauty of living in reflected abstractions! I am the solipsist, hegemon of my creations. You are my creation. You cannot leave my posts unanswered for to do so is to conceed. And you cannot answer my posts because you lack the spine to simply walk away.

Of course you could disagree with me...ah, but that would require a reply, would it not? *grin*

Cheers!

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
Paradox right back at'cha (none / 0) (#73)
by Wah on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 07:29:38 PM EST

so you plan of disproving intellect as evolutionary bonus (And in fact argue the existence of intelligence) to a world-wide audience, (whole bunch of tech skipped here).. ..using intellectual discourse, and basically saying, you think therefore you aren't. Which I certainly don't agree with. But luckily, in your world nothing exists anyway, so what, possibly could any response my imagination could come up with (through your entity disturbance [probably the sushi I had{didn't have} for lunch]) have any effect on the non-world anyway?
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP
[ Parent ]
Destruction. (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by mattc on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:54:34 AM EST

Survival instict is a driving force without awareness or thought, but more importantly (and thus the reason dolphin's are not intelligent) without the ability or desire to alter the world around them.

Birds don't build nests? Beavers don't build dams? Yes, all animals alter the world around them... it is just that humans do so excessively.

It is not intelligence that is causing us to destroy our world, but ignorance. If people were really fully aware of what they were doing do you think they'd still be doing it? I'm sure some would continue to act destructively, but most would not (and those who are not could act to stop those who were being destructive).

Many people today have been raised in a totally artificial urban environment and have no concept of wilderness or "outdoors," thus they cannot really understand the effects of overconsumption, IMO.

Even those who are not raised in an urban environment are influenced by urban and christian belief systems via their television and local church. None of these outlets even begin to explain the effects of man's actions on the world. It is all exploit and get rich = virtue. We have a culture which values destruction for personal gain (not just of the environment, but of other people too).

Anyway, my point here is that we are awash in a sea of ignorance and that is why we are so self-destructive. There are two possible solutions to this that I can see, but I'm not going to get into that tonight.

Until someone is born without the ability thru evolutionary or environmental reasons who does not understand the abstractions we live in. Someone whose mind does not understand the need to take reflected reality as reality.

As soon as one person, or a group, or whatever, exist in defiance of majorital abstraction morals, the difference between right and wrong simply becomes an idiotic concept built over the years by interpretations and abstractions. Such a person, or group, needs only the desire.

Exactly! I don't know if you are familiar with Nietzsche, but he explored similar concepts.

Personally, I feel that a system of ethics can be built upon such "desire."

[ Parent ]

You have good points (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by DranoK on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:53:12 PM EST

You're right about animals altering the world around them. I hadn't thought of that. OK, since you had enough sense to give a good example (and not just rant =) I'll change my definition here to accomidate this minor exception. =) That's the great thing about abstractions -- you have the freedom to define at will. So just add the word 'major' in front of alterations; thus intelligent creatures majorly alter the world around them. =)

You seem to be defining ignorance here as those who do not subscribe to a more so-called 'enlightened' point of view. I am a firm believer that reality does not exist -- at least, not in terms an intelligent creature can understand. I would propose bacterium have a cleaner sense of reality than we do. The reason for this is simple; if you analyze something (famous quantum observer theory) you are in effect changing it -- well, changing your own perception of it anyway. Laws, morals, religions -- all simply abstractions or reflections of reality which bring a bit more order to the world. Well, you could call it chaos too, but...*sigh*

Yeah, I'd say Christians are ignorant. But a devout Christian (like my father) would be equally correct in calling me ignorant -- after all, I do not understand why some things in Christianity are important; I am ignorant to the particular reflected reality Christians live in. *shrug*

But you hit my point square on the head when you say the 'majority' will abide by enligthened senses and not commit xenocide; problem is when it is within the power of an individual to destroy the world, he may be 'ignorant' of the majority's view of reality.

Yes, I am very familiar with Nietzsche, and no, I wasn't aiming to a reference to him with those sentences, although upon re-reading what I wrote I can understand where you could think I was. Hell, I probably was but just wasn't thinking of it at the time. Reguardless, comparing that concept to him is the best compliment I could think of receiving. ;) Not that I like Nietzsche that much -- a lot of his crap is mindless shit -- but some things I really dig.

That said, I have thought of one case where my argument falls down, but my brain hurts too much to really think about it. Maybe you can help. The one intelligent species I could think of which would be immune to individualistic self-destruction is the Borg. yeah yeah yeah cite me for liking Star Trek. Not the Borg exactly, but a collective socieity. On which exists for all intents and purposes as a single entity, and not a society of multiple entities. I can see how such a civilization could possibly be immune from the Omega device (If y ou'd like to call it that).

Anyhows, cheers!

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
Borg (none / 0) (#65)
by eudas on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 12:10:11 PM EST

Aren't the Borg just built upon the concept of a Hive mentality, such as is found in insects like bees, ants, termites, etc?

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Sorta... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by DranoK on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 01:04:50 PM EST

but more to the point they exist as one single entity. One mind. Thus, there is *always* a majority of one. The majority (of one) would need to decide to suicide the specieis. Since there is no free thought among individuals, such a specieis should be immune to the Omega Device, no?

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
Extend it to telepathy (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by Steeltoe on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 03:26:39 PM EST

You can extend this to social telepathy. You don't have to limit free thought. Everyone can have it as much as they please, but everyone can read other people's thoughts as well. If this happened, major disruption would occur first of course, but eventually we would probably stabilize and understand each other deeper than ever before. We would have a totally different society, not built upon differences as today, but on similarities.

I wish I get a dream about this soon. It sounds really intriguing ;-)

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
To quote you: (1.00 / 1) (#71)
by Steeltoe on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 03:30:07 PM EST

Jesus. Why don't you just define intelligence as something we humans possess and no other creature? It seems you'll be changing your definition until you reach this one anyways.

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
People Change Too (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by tudlio on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:25:54 PM EST

The interesting thing to me about this sort of speculation is that it's based on a very curious assumption: that humanity will be essentially the same at the Omega point as we are today.

Why would we make that assumption? Human nature is very different today than it was even fifty years ago. Just think about how television changed the way we form opinions, how we interact with one another, how we understand the world we live in.

Human nature will change along with the technology we develop. The humans that will be faced with Omega point technology will be very different creatures than you or I, even without conscious self-modification.

But what about self-modification? We already use chemicals to alter the way we think. We already place machines in or on our bodies to change the way they perform. Why would one assume we'll stop here?

Any society capable of developing an Omega machine would also be capable of significant and coercive behavior modification. Imagine a self-reproducing nanomachine that automatically rewires your brain to make it impossible for you to contemplate violence, a la A Clockwork Orange, but more effective?

Sure, an Omega point is possible. But inevitable? Sorry, don't buy it.


insert self-deprecatory humor here
Would that be Alpha Technology? (none / 0) (#72)
by Wah on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 07:16:02 PM EST

The other part of the curve that saves us. TV as you mentioned it is a great example of it. Right about the time we have a device that can destroy the planet, we get one that lets us see into every home on the planet. Live and in color, so we can burn the images in our memories and feel the emotions of these people. This was a large part of why the U.S. had difficulty subduing Vietnam. We couldn't just do what we wanted, because graphic images came home to the families of those fighting, and their younger brothers and sisters. This emotional attachment makes it difficult for a nation, and I think even individuals to make such a decision.

Long parapgraph, but here's a link about making that kind of decision.
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP
[ Parent ]

Go Read... (none / 0) (#75)
by Matrix on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 09:02:04 AM EST

Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Earth centric (3.00 / 2) (#52)
by Burrito Supreme Dictator on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 05:43:07 PM EST

"Eventually we will discover a technology which allows a small group, or perhaps even an individual, to assemble a device which will destroy civilisation, or perhaps even the planet."

The planet?

What makes you so sure that by the time this fabled technology is invented, human civilization will still be stuck on just one planet, or that the destruction of a single planet at that time will be of any more consequence to civilization as a whole than a modern h-bomb taking out a big city? Which, btw, humanity is already technically capable of doing. Yet we've managed to stave off total ruin so far. Because of these considerations, your article strikes me as unnecessarily alarmist.

Earth-centric, -1

Re: Earth Centric (none / 0) (#63)
by readams on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 11:01:38 AM EST

We have the technology to destroy a city, but no small group or individual has the resources to use this technology. We're getting closer though, and we will probably begin to see at least nuclear threats from terrorists within a few decades.

[ Parent ]
Re: Earth Centric (none / 0) (#64)
by cbraga on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 11:20:54 AM EST

And what makes you think that a device to destroy a civilization spread across 1000 planets is impossible? So even then can the doomsday device exist.

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]
If we get that far... (none / 0) (#61)
by tapir on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 09:05:53 AM EST

Four hundred horseman stalk our civilization. Every new technology we introduce has new impacts on ourselves and our environment. One of these days we're going to overstep the planet's ecological limits and start a downhill slide.

In fact, it might already be happening. We've pumped about 50% of the Earth's oil supply, and, if we go through with Bush's plan to "dash for gas" natural gas production in North America will peak around 2011. Some ecologists think that the human "carrying capacity" of the Earth is about 2 billion people and that we're destroying our "natural capital" such as soils and underground water to support our current population. It's quite likely that we'll lose 2/3 of our population before the next century is through.

Now, we might be able to avoid some of the horsemen with social and technological change. For instance, we mght be able to switch to nuclear energy or solar energy. We might be able to switch to hydrogen fuel cell cars that don't cause global warming. However, if our soceity keeps growing, we'll soon run into another batch of "limits to growth."

What about regulating growth? If we don't do it, nature will do it for us. Stopping growth will have it's own negative aspects. A growing soceity can easily take care of it's old, because there will be many young, strong workers to support them. A growing soceity can acquire new ideas, can adapt better to a changing situation -- science and industry can make progress because more positions will be available to talented young people.
A zero population growth society could be dangerously conservative.

Anyhow, I think that civilizations (on this planet and other) don't last because they don't learn ecology. They don't learn how to be stewards of their planet until it's too late, deplete their energy reserves, cause a mass extinction, and ultimately can't feed themselves.

Does space travel change anything? Hardly. If man is going to migrate to space, man is going to need to learn to operate closed-loop ecologies. If Biosphere 2 is an example, than it's clear that we're even worse at doing that than we are at managing the one we've got. We've inherited a beautiful world with millions of species that already works... If we can't keep it working, there isn't much help for us building a survivable ecology in a tin can.

what a load of hooey! (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by dutky on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 02:01:26 PM EST

And here, on a paragraph by paragraph basis, is why:

The history of technology shows a progression of doing more and more with less and less. What happens if we extrapolate this trend? Could this be why we seem to be alone in the Universe?

If you extrapolate a trend without any understanding of where the trend comes from or how it operates, you get meaningless and absurd results. Consider what happens if you take some measurements of a cyclic phenomenon where the sample set is smaller than the cycle period, or where the inter-sample time is longer than the cycle period. You will either see an apparantly linear trend (rising or falling depending almost entirely on luck/random chance) or an apparantly randomly distributed set of values. If you don't understand the mechanics behind a phenomenon, you can't meaningfully extrapolate from limited data (and, as far as we can tell from the author's argument, the size of his sample set is less than or equal to one).

Every improvement in our technology has allowed us to do more with less. Once it took thousands of men decades to build a cathedral. Today we can put up a building the same size in a few months with a few dozen people.

Here we have an argument based on a circular definition of improvement. By the author's definition, technology N+1 is only an improvement over technology N if it provides an increase in efficiency. It doesn't help any that there is no mention of what sorts of resources are being considered for the purposes of efficiency calculation.

Our destructive power has followed a similar trend. The time was when destroying a city required an army. Now it requires merely a few dozen men. Behind those men is a huge technological infrastructure, of course, but the actual execution is simple.

Here the author demonstrates exactly how flimsy his arguments really are. Does it really make a difference if the army required to destroy a city is located in the city at the time, or mustered thousands of miles away a few months or years earlier. That army still had to be provisioned and managed. The work still couldn't be done by only a few dozen men.

The simple fact is that modern technological culture can't be maintained by a small group of people: it is dependant on a vast army of millions of people working at all levels to provide goods and services that feed the mechanism. Without all the support structure, the 'god-like' knowledge of nuclear fission, nanotechnology, or biochemistry is just so many words and figures.

This brings us back to the question of doing 'more' with 'less': Two thousand years ago a small handfull of men with simple bronze or iron weapons, could muster an army that could bring the greatest cultures of europe and asia to their knees. How much effort do you think a similar feat would take today? I'd say that Alexander and Ghengis Kahn had the better deal on this score.

Some time during the 1960s the human race gained the ability to destroy itself. At the time assembling this destructive power required the all the industrialised nations of the world to put it at the top of their priority list. Today it could be done by any one of those nations if the others did not do anything about it.

In fact, any one of the top five economic powers has had the ability to assemble this kind of destructive power since the mid-fifties. The rest of the world, however, is so dirt poor and so badly educated and organized, that even with active help from other nations, assembling a working nuclear weapon is still a major undertaking.

Modern technology is fiendishly expensive. It requires all sorts of support structure -- both physical and intellectual -- and tends to break down if that infrastructure is not perfectly maintained.

As technology improves in the future we can expect this trend to continue. New discoveries will make it easier to both build and destroy.

Well, aside from the inference that technology can improve in the past I have to wonder about what might become of technologies specifically targeted at making 'it' more difficult to destroy. The current president of the U.S.A. seems to think that such things are possible (anti-missile defenses) and I can think of a few other discoveries that have had similar effects (radar, kevlar, fire-resistant materials). Again, we are faced with the author's circular and self-serving definitions, not with any matters of actual fact.

Eventually we will discover a technology which allows a small group, or perhaps even an individual, to assemble a device which will destroy civilisation, or perhaps even the planet. I don't know what this technology will look like. Maybe it will be an engineered virus, or perhaps a nanobot. Or it may be some principle or concept that would be as strange to us as a television would be to a Victorian steam engineer.
The precise form does not matter. Call it the Omega Technology. Sooner or later we will develop the Omega Technology.

Here we have pure and undiluted fantasy. I might as well say "Eventually we will discover a technology which allows faster than light travel." The author explicitly declaims any knowledge of what this magical technology might look like, but is clearly convinced that it will have no shortcomings or possible defenses. If the history of technology has shown us anything it is that no technology is perfect, and all technological solutions must bend to practical realities.

Even if we accept that this fabled 'Omega Technology' is a certainty, the author leaves the time period in which we can expect it to arise completely open ended. With an upper bound of billions of years, why should we even care?

So could the world survive if any small group could assemble a doomsday machine? I doubt it. If it can be done then someone somewhere will do it. They might do it to hold the world to ransom, or to demand that their ideal government be put in place, or just because they think that humanity is a Bad Thing. Someone will do it. Probably lots of people will do it. And sooner or later it will be set off, and the world will end.

Here the author makes the unfounded assumption that anything he can't personally imagine is, by necessity, impossible. Fortunately, human imagination, in the mean, has proven far more limited than physical reality. In this case, the author is blinded by his desire to prove his own thesis.

The author also assumes that self-preservation is a very weak human instinct. A suicide bomber who is willing to kill himself and twenty strangers may be much less sanguine about pulling the trigger if those twenty strangers are replaced with his entire family or all of his friends. The fact that modern technological devices require the input of hundreds or thousands of people just in order to get built, means that there are likely to be many more cool heads involved in the process. This was (and is) the logic behind the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Many people have wondered where all the aliens are. The universe is big, and there has been plenty of time for many civilisations to arise and become star-faring. Surely we are not the first.
I suspect that indeed we are not. On countless worlds strange creatures have evolved sentience, discovered fire, wondered what the stars were, and then found out what the stars were. And then they found the Omega Technology.

Finally, the author shows his full (if paltry) hand, and, in the process, tramples all over Occam's razor. His argument is so powerfull, so all encompassing, that even explains one of the greatest mysteries of all time: where are all the little green men?

Of course, the obvious answer to this question isn't nearly as sexy as an Omega Technology, doomsday weapons and a lifeless universe: All the little green men are sitting at home doing something usefull and productive!

Rather than positing some magical doomsday device, we could simply assume that interstellar travel is too costly or dangerous to ever be worthwhile. If faster than light travel is, in fact, impossible, and if the interstellar medium is as dirty as it appears (bits of rock, dust and gas everywhere, high levels of ionizing radion streaming about, etc.) then it is easy to imagine that travel between stars is extremely hazardous. Any super-intelligent culture would more readilly Dyson spheres, ring-worlds, orbital habitats, or even entirely new planets, before it tried flinging perfectly good people and materials off into the aether.

More likely, however, is that industrial cultures like ours are simply not very long lived. They consume lots of resources and require a great deal of commitment from their members. A brief overview of history proves the point: History is dotted with technologically effective cultures that either collapsed under their own weight or were invaded from without and dismantled for loot. The human race continued on quite nicely even though the cultures themselves were destroyed.

The same is probably true of all the little green men out there on other planets. Their advanced technological cultures just couldn't keep it up long enough to send representatives to many of the surrounding start systems and they collapsed back into some more barbarous state (possibly a more relaxed state as well, but that's beside the point).

We can probably expect something similar to happen in the next several hundred years or so, without the intervention of some exotic Omega Technology. The destroyer will be something far more mundane and far less deadly: greed, sloth and fanatacism.

While the author is, I am sure, banking on the existance of human greed and fanatacism as the means by which the Omega Technology will be utilized, he is, oddly, ignoring the fact that these same forces tend to mitigate against technological progress over the long run. If these forces are loosed on the world, it is far more likely that they will bring a cease to the rapid technological progress to which we have become accustomed in recent centuries, than that they will be the engine that constructs and wields the Omega Technology.



followed by a bigger load of hooey (1.00 / 1) (#78)
by arouse on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 01:46:23 PM EST

Do you have to have everything laid out in legalese like prose?

The original author has a good point. It seems as if there is a trend that seems to be accumulating more and more power of various types in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

You point out, correctly, that this is not possible without substantial infrastructure. So? That is the way of things for humans. The fact that a farmer in the Midwest can, at a personal whim, produce more per season than all of his predecessors illustrates the point. Sure there are legions behind him in the agro-chemical-finance-biotech-government complex that orbits around that industry. But it still comes down to him alone to wield.

The "Omega Technology" is already here. It is getting better all the time. It is biotech. It allows a single person to develop and release a plague that can wipe out the human race.

[ Parent ]

Well, It here. What ya talking about? (none / 0) (#74)
by OmegaIndustries on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 07:25:47 AM EST

Yeah. Its called a "Neutron Bomb". I don't know the exact details but they exsist. it was an evolontionary (hehe, cant spell) step. it went from the atomic bomb, to nuclear to neutron. Just say the explosive core on a Nuc-Bomb was 50 k. a Neut-Bomb would be roughly 10 k. If the fallout on a Nuc-Bomb was 200 k a Neut-Bomb would be 1000. So happy happy joy joy happy joy.

Neutron bomb. (none / 0) (#79)
by SnowBlind on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 05:08:18 PM EST

The neutron bomb is not as you describe. It is designed to kill only organics with little or no damage to the structures. The fallout was to be minimal, so as to make the area reinhabitable by humans quickly.

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]
The Internet's Omega Technology is almost here... (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by Kasreyn on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 09:06:10 AM EST

...WinXP Home Version.

http://grc.com/dos/grcdos.htm

Read it and weep. Here comes IP spoofing for zombie trojans. Now any 13 year old still smarting from getting a swirly at school can come home and vent his aggression by blowing www.yourcompanynamehere.com out of the water. I see no difference between this and these world-ending Omega technology concepts; the idea is the same - unlimited destructive power in the hands of one person.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
The Omega Technology | 80 comments (73 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!