Archive for June 3rd, 2008

The transition to Type I civilization

That video on the future of our civilization by Dr Michio Kaku today made me think (enough that I was late putting that lamb to roast for dinner).

You see, there is no major transition without violence. And as Kaku says, it’s very possible that we won’t make it, because a lot of people will oppose the changes it brings. Harnessing huge powers requires more security measures, more “globalization” of thought and culture. This is not about just a few cultures not wanting anything to do with it, but even modern people who live in US or EU would protest. Such a transition would put a stress test on the limits of your own open mind.

You see, it might be essential to a Type I civilization, to take decisions that today are thought to be immoral: genetic experiments, termination of infants that are not healthy, pre-determined choice of profession, behavior and thought control. In other words, think of “1984”, times 10. With great power, comes great responsibility, and to ensure order, such measures might be unavoidable. This kind of future frightens all of us, not just “the anti-new world order” individuals. However, think that we already live in such an environment it’s just that the governments of the world don’t have enough technology yet to make our lives even more restrictive: all our communications are recorded, we are watched by hidden cameras on the streets, while the TV is doing its best to shape our opinions.

Even myself, who I try to have an open mind regarding most things (including ugly genetic experiments), I have opposed additional security measures and RFID on humans. So if I can barely take it, how is the average Joe Christian is going to? This is where Kaku rings the bell and says that it’s a very dangerous transition exactly because whatever freedoms you are taking for granted today won’t necessarily be present in such a Type I civilization. And removal of basic freedoms, or loss of culture with one sweep, always breeds guerrilla fighters.

I know that many will say that “humans are meant to be free, people won’t take it and will revolt“, but that’s hogwash. Humans are resilient and know how to intelligently change their lifestyle in order to fit in any ‘New World Order’. No matter how dictatorial such a future might sound to us right now. Once upon a time people would take a dump in a main street and no one would care, today it’s common sense not to do that, but for them, our society would already seem too restrictive. Study sociology on many cultures, including dictatorships, and look how people were living their lives just fine. Besides, thought and behavior control is going to be big business for governments in the future so “terrorism” can be eliminated this way.

So what are we to do? Embrace this frightening change that’s so incompatible with our ideas of how life should be, or fight it? Speaking as a human living in 2008, I’d say “fight it”, meaning only “delay it”. However, if I was to be somehow transported to the year 2108, I would accept that civilization’s traits: I would voluntarily get an RFID and a thought control chip, and whatever else they do for fun in that time. In other words, unless things are really-really shitty and your family starves because of that new economo-political system, don’t bother fighting the status quo. If you have food in your table, it obviously works. But what about freedom, you ask?

In the popular mythology of our time, the Greys don’t have independent thought, not because they were originally incapable of having one, but because their socio-political system have removed all their independence from them through genetic or artificial means (think of them as a kinder, gentler Borg). This way there are no “terrorists” among them thinking that “ooh, Jeez, we should stop doing anal probes to humans, it’s not ethical“. Instead, they all do what their collective thinks it’s the right thing to do for their species: “we should do anal probes to humans so we collect that bacteria that live in their gut that make these great face lotions“. And that’s that.

We have to look at the problem from a 1 billion feet high, in other words, we must get the big picture and ask ourselves: what’s more important in the long run: our personal freedom, or the survival of the species? If we don’t make the transition to Type I, WE DIE as a species. There’s no way around this, it’s just how it is. And when I say “we die”, I mean in the long run. Simply starting a nuclear war and killing off a few billion people in order to make humans go back to a prehistorically simpler way of life doesn’t solve the long run survival problem as the sun is bound to eat up Earth eventually.

What if, the only reason why every species is pre-encoded with a survival instinct, is not just to survive here and now, but to survive the species for the eons to come? What if, when the universe goes bust, from all the billions and trillions of intelligent civilizations in the universe, only a handful of them “make it” to another, warmer universe and continue to live on? Kinda like the millions of sperm shot from a male, but only one makes it and continues to be living in a female’s egg. Wouldn’t that be a noble reason to advance ourselves? Wouldn’t ultimate survival be the reason to lay off personal freedoms in order to preserve life itself, and the history of a whole universe that was?

Michio Kaku on stuff

Dr Michio Kaku Ph.D, astrophysicist and theoretical physicist, professor in the City University of New York, book author and science TV personality, on several cool topics. If you are available for 15 minutes today, watch the following:

* Michio Kaku on the future of civilization, explaining the different Types of it and why we are currently living in the most important part of the human history. Kaku is explaining in terms of economy, technology and sociology the steps we will take to become a Type I civilization (aka “New World Order”) and how people who oppose this are simply “terrorists living in fear unable to embrace change”. Must see.

* Michio Kaku on aliens and physics, explaining how limited SETI is, and how limited we are as a species to be remotely interesting to aliens that pass by. Kaku, like most modern scientists, obviously believes in the existance of intelligent life elsewhere, and he thinks that it’s possible that we have been visited, it’s just that we are too stupid to even take notice that we have.

* Michio Kaku on String Theory, explaining how the string theory might be “our” only way out of a dying universe in a few billion or trillion years.

* Michio Kaku on the possibility of Time Travel, and why there are no time paradoxes (e.g. killing your mother before she gives birth to you) as the harmony of the multiverse will create an alternative timeline in order to cater for the paradox.

* Michio Kaku on Artificial Intelligence being 100 years off as of yet and people who say otherwise are just way too optimistic. I fully agree with him on his opinion, and it’s something that I have discussed before.

Indiana Jones and the mystery of the Lost island

Usability, usability, usability…

Only 5 percent of consumer electronics products returned to retailers are malfunctioning–yet many people who return working products think they are broken, a new study indicates,” says PCWorld.

This just shows how important usability is and how bad the industry is providing good usability on their products. Usually, that’s because the engineers and designers who design these products never use them in their personal life and therefore they never use the devices properly. Every time I happen to review a bad product the first thing that comes to mind is “I don’t understand. Don’t these people actually use their products?“.

It’s just sad that companies don’t realize that the money they must spend on usability is a good investment as the fewer returned devices would mean more money for them. I am going to bet that the iPhone is among the lowest returned devices, because it rocks when it comes to usability and user expectations.