Now that we’ve made it past the projected end of the world, I suppose it’s time to consider where do we go from here. And those of you who were counting on Apophis, NASA has nailed the orbit down enough to know it will miss the Earth on the two next passes.
When I look back at the last 40 years, some things have changed and some haven’t. There were no home computers in 1972, or all the computerized gadgets, no cellular phones let alone smartphones, no big screen TV’s, no video games, no CDs or DVDs.
There were no body searches just to take an airplane flight, no black list, fireworks were legal, we could actually celebrate our freedoms on the 4th of July, or New Years, or just whenever we felt the urge. Long distance used to hugely expensive, overseas calls could be $15-$30 per minute. You used to be able to have a wide choice in telephones, a model M500 desk phone, a “Princess” phone, or a “Trimline” phone.
It seems to me that one invention, the Integrated Circuit, is about 99% responsible for all the new technologies and changes to existing technologies, other than some rather modest incremental improvements. Integrated circuits made central processing units and semi-conductor memory possible, which in turn made computers and their cousins, the microprocessor and digital signal processor possible. These things made Smartphones, CD and DVD players, modern digital televisions, VOIP telephony which made long distance basically free, and much more.
So what will be the next big thing, the breakthrough technology that will make the next 50 years new gadgets possible?
And will the march away from freedom, the total annulment of the US Constitution, the march towards globalization, the continued increase in disparity between the wealthiest and the rest of the population, continue? Or is it a pendulum that has swung too far in one direction and in time will swing the other way? I sure hope so. One thing totalitarian governments seem to be good at is suppressing creativity.
We’ve become a people that have become so obsessed with safety that we’ve become willing to trade everything else for it. And yet, our obsession with it isn’t really providing it, not real safety. Look at the 9/11 event, around 3,000 people died in that event. Our response to that was to invade Iraq, which wasn’t responsible in any way to begin with, and we’ve lost another 4,000 plus US citizens according to official numbers there. Unofficially we’ve lost more of course, anytime a soldier was seriously wounded, they’d be flown to Germany, and if they die there, they didn’t count against those war casualty numbers. And that’s just soldiers, which doesn’t count all the security and supply line personnel outsources to private industry.
So our response was really not making us any more safe. What it did do is gain control over some oil resources and waste a lot of oil. We burned up more oil in air force operations over Iraq than Iraq produced, so in terms of getting our hands on oil, it was a net loss, but it shorted the world supply, driving prices up, and driving the profits of the oil companies up.
In 1972, I could freely enter and leave Canada, now, even if it weren’t for my crime, a passport would be required. This is all more fake safety. Legitimate citizens will either just give up and not go, or they’ll go through all these new requirements to enter/leave Canada. However, the terrorists will just take a boat and go from one port south of the Canadian border to one port North, or the other way around. No real safety, just restrictions on our freedom.
Whether you believe 9/11 was the work of a bunch of pissed off terrorists, or a false flag operation aimed at getting support for taking away our freedoms, the latter was certainly the result. So where are we going in the future?
The little RF ID chips we implant in dogs and cats so our lost pets can be returned, how long until they require these in humans? Or will biometric-identification technologies such as retina scans and fingerprint scans provide the same capability, the absolute elimination of anonymity less invasively?
I used to feel like I had a pretty good feel for where things are going but not anymore. I could never have anticipated the degree of apathy that exists with respect to our freedoms being taken away, or is it fear? I don’t know, I just know I didn’t think people would ever allow themselves to be treated this way.
And then technologies, who could have anticipated the Integrated Circuit, all of it’s ramifications, and the incredible densities of electronics that are now possible? And who can anticipate the next big thing?
I’ve always been fascinated by science and technology and I’m aware of some of the things in the pipeline and there are so many things now, ranging from technologies like nano-diode arrays capable of rectifying millimeter wavelengths that ordinary room temperatures radiate at, allowing background energy to be turned into electricity essentially violating the 2nd law of thermal-dynamics. Right now it’s just very experimental, tiny chips that generate a few micro-amps of current by drawing heat from it’s surroundings. Even these small currents have applications for things like self-powered biological implants but more than that, they prove that something is flawed with our understanding of thermal dynamics and the assertion that we could never tap background heat or zero-point energy is wrong. How will that play out in the future?
Our understanding of genetics is rapidly evolving. We used to believe about 97% of DNA was junk, now we know that not to be true, non-encoding DNA has other roles, one major role is to regulate encoding DNA. We now have a field of epigenetics, we know that although the DNA itself in most cases does not change in response to the environment, there are other molecules attached that can change the expression of that DNA in response to environment. Moreover, some of those changes can be passed on to future generations through mechanisms that we do not understand presently. This new understanding of ourselves will no doubt lead to technological breakthroughs in the field of medicine.
I wonder how some of our laws and customs that have changed drastically in the last 100 years will effect our future well being as a species. It used to be not uncommon to marry daughters off as soon as they reached puberty, now many women are delaying child bearing until their 30’s, putting establishing a career first a priority. Around 1-in-2000 children born to a woman 16 years old will suffer autism, by 45, that’s around 1-in-20. The same is true for many other genetic disorders. By delaying child bearing to later years, we are increasing the rate of harmful genetic mutations being inserted into the human genome. On the other hand, those that are born to an older woman and who are free of genetic defects are likely born to an individual who has better cellular DNA repair machinery, and in the long run will have an advantage, so perhaps this delayed child bearing ultimately will confer a longer life span on the human race.
The old saying, “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, is in many ways true of many environmental insults we suffer. Sure it will kill a portion of us, but the world is in no danger of human underpopulation, well at least until we destroy the environment to the point where it can no longer produce enough food to support our numbers.
One big disappointment for me is that after getting to the moon, we just kind of stopped. American’s curiosity, our fascination with space, science, discovering new things, seems to have evaporated. It seems now all we care about is, can we make a profit with it? And for what? What are we gonna do with that profit? Buy more cheap foreign made junk?
So I can’t predict where it’s going to go, I can only say where I’d like it to go. I’d like people to recognize that wars are not, as often stated, always or even frequently religious in nature. Wars are economic, they got something (like oil), we want it, but the leaders couldn’t get us fired up to go kill to take oil, that would be unethical, so instead they tell us God command it (Reagan, Bush), and our opponents tell their people the same thing, God commanded they kill the infidels, or at least enslave them. In truth, neither leader believes that, they just want the resources the other side has, but they used God toward their ends. I’m tired of God being blamed for man’s greed and I hope that, in the future, we come to realize this, and when one of our leaders tells us God told them to go kill someone, we’ll know better and remove that leader from power.
And even though it’s in the past, I happen to think the founders of this country put some pretty good ideas down in the constitution and we really ought to give serious thought to restoring those values. That’s not to say our forefathers were angels, they certain were not, our constitution tells us all men are created equal, yet, many of them owned slaves. None the less, the ideas that went into the constitution were good, and I think we should insist that our present government respect them.
I’d like to see our collective curiosity rejuvenated. Sometimes I wonder if the Internet and all the new electronic gadgets aren’t responsible for it’s demise, because we have access to so much information, we are already in information overload, so going out and looking for more when we have more than we can digest already, the appeal to that is gone. Yet, when we do real pure science, understand more about our nature and the nature of the universe we inhabit, there are always huge benefits to that.
Craftsmanship seems to be lost in the modern world, replaced by technology. I’d like to see the two combined. Most things we buy these days seem to be designed by accountants and marketeers, the aesthetics have much to be desired.
Speaking of marketeers, a very annoying recent trend is a vast increase in phone spam. I get at least three random sales calls a day, often more, often by automated robots using VOIP telephone facilities. I noticed that when Microsoft bought Skype, it seemed to take a quantum leap. Coincidence? Maybe, but one doesn’t have to spend much time in Google to find cases of people being harassed by Skype and other VOIP calls. The problem I think is that VOIP has made telephony almost as cheap as e-mail. I don’t know any good fix for this.
There are lot of interesting things happening in the field of controlled hydrogen fusion, some new approaches generating temperatures that would make aneutronic fusion possible. They haven’t achieved the necessary density yet, but who knows? That’s one of those game changers, like the invention of the integrated circuit, it would change life as we know it. I can see a lot of positive ways that things could change, but there are always unintended consequences and I wonder what those might be.
Well, some things to think about. Goodnight all.